We hate heavy periods.
Women’s health issues don’t get the attention they deserve. But by talking openly about common issues, like heavy periods, we can improve the way we approach women’s health and the quality of our lives. This is key! I have a mom and an older sister, but aside from them, if I had an issue they weren’t experienced with – I wouldn’t know where to turn.
So, let’s talk. All – or most – women hate their period, but did you know that 1 in 5 women experience a condition called abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB), aka heavy periods, that truly affects their ability to live life to the fullest?1 In addition to affecting quality of life, AUB can cause symptoms like constant pain, exhaustion, and in some cases anemia.1,2 And what’s more? Many women don’t even realize that what they’re experiencing isn’t normal. In fact, in a recent survey 85% of women agreed that heavy periods were “normal” – and 69% agreed that pain is “something to be expected.”3
Women often wait years to seek treatment for AUB because they don’t know that heavy bleeding is abnormal, as I wouldn’t either! I don’t even know that I’d think of talking to my doctor about it – especially since I only go to the OBGYN for an annual check-up, and there are other topics I tend to focus on during those visits – like birth control, disease detection, and general health. But 1 in 5 is a lot of women, and many are not even thinking their heavy bleeding is something worth bringing up to their doctors. FACT: Heavy periods do not have to be your normal – and that’s exactly why we need to educate ourselves about AUB and treatment options.
Let’s talk treatment. Most women are not aware of the full breadth of treatment options for AUB, and worry about side effects from hormonal therapies or the lasting effects of major surgery for treatment. In a recent survey, nearly half of the respondents agreed that hormones were the only method to lighten menstrual flow (48 percent3). In reality, there are many treatment options for heavy periods that range from lifestyle changes, to hormones, to minimally invasive procedures. Women who are finished having children can explore a minimally invasive procedure called endometrial ablation.1,2 It’s a quick, 5-minute procedure that can reduce or eliminate your period. This may be a great choice for abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB). I was so surprised to learn about this option – have you ever heard of endometrial ablation?
Why is this important?
Well, 1 in 5 women is a lot! Chances are you know someone or many ‘someones’ with AUB. I know I do! I can think of three close friends who deal with heavy bleeding and pain. And while they have not passed their childbearing years, yet, I know they’d be interested in learning more about the treatment options available to them, at all stages of life. Topics like heavy periods are often under-discussed because most of us view periods as being a “part of life,” even if they do bring with them painful and embarrassing symptoms. We don’t even realize that symptoms are debilitating and limiting us from our living our lives, because we have no benchmark to compare ours to!
Myth busting time!
Because periods are so under-discussed, there are a slew of myths out there. Let’s set the record straight:
- Myth: A heavy flow is totally normal. Answer: Heavy periods are common but do not have to be any woman’s version of normal, and can be indicative of a treatable gynecological condition. If your period is so heavy that you’re doubling up on tampons or pads, or missing work or time with loved ones, talk to your doctor about options.
Myth: Birth control/IUD are the only ways to regulate your period. Answer: Hormones are ONE method for managing your period but if you’re experiencing painful or heavy periods, you can explore minimally invasive options like endometrial ablation. This removes the lining of the uterus to control or eliminate menstrual bleeding. For women with bleeding caused by fibroids, you can explore hysteroscopic myomectomy, a minimally invasive way to remove fibroids and polyps.2
Myth: Women are supposed to lose a lot of blood during their period. Answer: Not completely true. The average amount of blood loss should actually be 2-3 tablespoons.1 Anything more than 2-3 tablespoons could elicit a visit to your OB/GYN, as you may be experiencing abnormal uterine bleeding. To put it in other words, if you’re changing your pad or tampon every hour, that’s too much.
Myth: Some women have periods for 14 days. Answer: True, actually. One survey revealed that on average, women who have excessively heavy periods experience their period for 14 days a month.3
1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heavy menstrual bleeding. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html. Accessed July 05, 2017.
2) The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG committee opinion no. 557: management of acute abnormal uterine bleeding in nonpregnant reproductive-aged women. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;121(4):891-896.
3) Hologic, Inc. Data on File; AUB Patient Journey Research, conducted January 2017. Survey of 1,003 women who self-identified as currently or recently experiencing heavy bleeding with need to change feminine hygiene product every hour or more.
You can learn more about AUB and endometrial ablation here and check out this doctor discussion guide here to discuss your symptoms with your physician. It’s time to start talking about heavy periods, so more women can start living life to the fullest again!
Compensation was provided by Hologic via Momtrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hologic or Momtrends.