Heavy Periods FAQ

Are you looking for more information about heavy periods? Please visit our main Heavy Periods page.

Whether you’ve suddenly noticed heavy periods, or they’ve gradually worsened over many years, you don’t have to allow this problem to impact your health and quality of life. The Long Island gynecology specialists at The Woman’s Health Pavilion are available to offer you helpful information and practical advice. We look forward to providing you with an effective solution that will restore your freedom, comfort, and peace-of-mind. Below, you can review answers to some common questions we are commonly asked about heavy periods.

To find out about your treatment options for heavy periods, request an appointment with a gynecologist or support staff at any of our Long Island locations. We see patients 7 days a week and offer same-day appointments for urgent conditions.

How much bleeding is considered a “heavy” period?

The medical term for heavy periods is menorrhagia, which is defined as bleeding that is very heavy, lasts abnormally long, or both. The following table provides a general comparison between what is considered heavy and what is considered normal.

Measurement Normal Period Heavy Period
Length of period 4 to 6 days More than 7 days
Total blood loss during period 10 to 35 ml (2 to 3 tablespoons) Over 80 ml (Over 6 tablespoons)
Number of regular tampons or pads used during entire period 1 to 7 More than 9 to 12
Need to change regular tampon or pad 3 to 5 hours More often than every 2 hours

If you saturate pads or tampons quickly, have to “double up” on protection, pass clots, or frequently have accidents, it’s likely that your periods are abnormally heavy.

Do many women have heavy periods? I feel so alone.

According to the CDC, excessively heavy periods affect more than 10 million women in the U.S. each year. It is one of the most common reasons women see a gynecologist.

When is it time to see a medical practitioner for heavy periods?

We always welcome women to schedule an appointment with us when they have questions or concerns about menstruation. If your period interferes with your enjoyment of social, leisure, and physical activities because you’re worried about leaking, please come in for a visit. If you have heavy periods and have been told of anemia (low blood counts), you should see us. Also, if you feel extremely bloated, crampy, and/or fatigued during your period, we’d like to see you.

Are heavy periods more common at a certain age?

Abnormal uterine bleeding can occur at any age, but it is more likely to occur at certain stages in a woman’s life. For instance, young women who have just begun to menstruate often have heavy periods. Also, it is estimated that 20% of women have excessively heavy periods in the years leading up to menopause.

Why is my teenage daughter having heavy periods?

In teens, heavy bleeding is often caused by an imbalance between the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This imbalance allows the uterine lining to build up longer and become thicker than normal, which may make menstruation heavy and/or unpredictable. A thick uterine lining can cause heavy bleeding when it is shed. In most cases, teenagers’ periods become lighter and more predictable within 2 years of their first period.

Why are my periods heavy?

There are many conditions that can cause heavy periods, including:

  • Hormone imbalances
  • Adenomyosis, a condition in which the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows into the muscular wall of the uterus
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Endometrial Polyps
  • Bleeding disorders that prevent the blood from clotting properly
  • Endometrial or cervical cancer

Most causes for heavy periods can be effectively treated, but an accurate diagnosis is essential for maintaining your health.

Why do I have such bad cramps with my period?

Menstrual cramps are caused by natural substances released in the body called prostaglandins, which make the smooth muscle in the uterus contract. These involuntary contractions help shed the uterine lining during your period and can range in intensity. Some women produce high levels of prostaglandins, which can make periods more painful. If cramps frequently last longer than the first 3 days of your period, it’s a good idea be evaluated by a gynecologist.

How are heavy periods treated?

The optimal treatment for heavy periods depends on the cause. Common treatment options include:

  • Birth control pills can be used to control both the timing and the flow of your period.
  • An intrauterine device (IUD) that contains progesterone such as Skyla® or Mirena® can reduce menstrual flow.
  • Lysteda® is prescription medication used to treat heavy periods.
  • Endometrial ablation is an outpatient procedure which permanently inactivates the inner lining of the uterus. After endometrial ablation, women can expect to have extremely light periods, or no periods all.
  • If heavy bleeding is caused by endometrial polyps, removal of the polyps effectively treats heavy bleeding
  • If heavy bleeding is caused by fibroids, removal of fibroids effectively treats heavy bleeding. In many cases, definitive treatment can be performed using minimally invasive techniques.

The first step towards a solution for heavy periods is an accurate diagnosis. If you suffer from heavy menstrual flow that affects your quality of life, we invite you to make an appointment for consultation with one of our gynecology specialists at the The Woman’s Health Pavilion.