This article was written for Hey Zomi by Endo Articles, Australia’s go-to community for young people living with endometriosis. For more, check out @endoarticles on Instagram or head to www.endoarticles.org.
Have you ever had that moment during your period when you think, "Is this normal?" We've all been there, wondering if our flow matches up with the experiences of those around us. But, too often, we are made to feel nervous about asking, taught that some things should be left unspoken about and dealt with quietly. Well, not here! This article aims to break that silence and dive into the topic of heavy periods, or ‘menorrhagia’ as it’s referred to medically. Understanding our bodies and discussing our experiences can empower us all.
When talking about periods, the term "normal" can be quite subjective. What one person deems heavy might be routine for another. However, there’s a fine line between the usual flow and what is clinically classified as menorrhagia. So how do we identify it? According to the Cleveland Clinic, menorrhagia is when you lose over 80ml of blood per cycle (⅓ cup) and/or your period stretches beyond 7 days.
In the Endo Articles community, those with menorrhagia speak about soaking through a pad or tampon every hour for several hours straight while on their period, or regularly passing blood clots larger than a 50cent piece. Many in our community also bleed for 7+ days, sometimes going months without a break. Our community also speak of the social impact of menorrhagia: like, having to wake up in the night to manage your flow, or needing to cancel social/sporting activities because of the fatigue/discomfort associated with the heavy bleed and, sometimes, even having to manage the risk of anaemia due to the heavy bleeding.
If any of this resonates with you, it might be a good idea to see a healthcare professional. They'll take a deep dive into your medical history, maybe conduct a physical exam, or even recommend blood tests. Sometimes they'll recommend tests like an endometrial biopsy or ultrasound to get a clearer picture. For a closer look at these procedures, the Mayo Clinic goes into more detail.
Now, if you're scratching your head, wondering what might cause such heavy periods, you're not alone. From hormonal imbalances (thanks, estrogen and progesterone!) to non-cancerous growths like uterine fibroids, there are a stack of reasons. Conditions like endometriosis or even certain intrauterine devices (IUDs) can be culprits, too. If you're curious for more, the NHS has a detailed page that’s worth a read.
To wrap things up, if you ever find yourself questioning your menstrual flow, you're not overreacting. Recognizing the signs of menorrhagia can lead to better management and, most importantly, peace of mind. Always remember, though: it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional about any period-related concerns. Remember, this isn't medical advice – it's a conversation starter. Stay informed, and always prioritise your health!