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7 Ways to Deal with Heavy Periods

7 Ways To Deal With Heavy Periods

A new study commissioned by Wear White Again [1], a campaign group that’s trying to remove the stigma around heavy periods, reveals that 43% of British women have missed work as a result of this problem, which adds up to 5,581,186 sick days each year.

The survey also revealed that the women’s bosses were unlikely to know the reason behind these absences, as 73% confided they would rather lie and say they had diarrhoea, than say it was period pain.  This is because few women realise that heavy periods, known medically as menorrhagia, are a recognised medical condition that affects 1 in 5 (20%), so wouldn’t want to bother their GP about it.

So not only do heavy periods impact on our day-to-day lives – 72% said it affected their sex life, 58% feel they are unable to carry out their usual daily routine while 74% have experienced anxiety, 69% depression and 49% anaemia, but it also has implications for employers. The survey estimates it costs the British economy £531 million each year. So where to start remedying the problem? Here’s what we suggest..

1. Sturdy knickers

Setting aside your most robust pants – Bridget Jones style – for the time of the month is a shrewd move. Or even wearing those gym knickers over your normal ones can give you that added protection. In the same vein, avoid light-coloured trousers and dresses. You may like to take a look at some of the sepcially-designed underwear for heavy periods, such as Carol Smillie’s Pretty Clever Pants.

2.Tranexamic acid tablets

Reach for the Tranexamic Acid tablets. Ideally, you should talk to your GP or gynaecologist as to whether these are suitable. You can also buy these over the counter in a chemist. They work by slowing the breakdown of blood clots, which helps to prevent prolonged bleeding. They’ve been shown to reduce blood loss by around 50%.

3. Fibroids removal

Many women don’t even know they have any of these tissue nodules growing in their womb, fallopian tubes or ovaries. But, although benign, they can sometimes be the cause of heavy bleeding.

It may be worth asking your doctor or gynaecologist to investigate. They may suggest a hysteroscopy, which is a procedure that allows your doctor to have a clear look at the lining of the womb using a slim telescope (hysteroscope) and a small camera. The procedure is minimally invasive and is performed by a skilled gynaecologist. When fibroids are present, they can usually be removed straight away using the specialist MyoSure system, which treats without cuts or scarring.

4. Get a blood test

Most of the time, having a heavy period isn’t a cause for immediate alarm, but there are underlying medical conditions that can cause periods to be heavier. It’s best to see a doctor for a full blood test to identify if this might be the case. Possible causes include, blood-thinning medications, hormonal imbalances such as an underactive thyroid, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, conditions like Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis and Pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID) caused by infection.

5. An alternative to hysterectomy

Some women feel so unwell during their periods that they are willing to undergo the knife, just to be free of the monthly curse. However, a traditional hysterectomy is major surgery and long recovery time.

An alternative, is endometrial ablation, which treats just the lining of the womb rather than removing it entirely. The leading method of ablation is the NovaSure, which requires no incisions and uses precisely measured radio frequency energy. It’s minimally invasive and performed under local anaesthetic, so you can go home the same day.

6. Pass the painkillers

Popping a pack of painkillers like ibuprofen into your handbag can be a lifesaver. This is because nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), not only take the edge off the tummy camps, but they also reduce hormone-like chemicals that interfere with blood clotting. Studies show that these NSAIDs can reduce the blood flow of your period by 20-50%.

7. Swap the ice cream for a multi-vit

If you’re marooned at home on the sofa feeling sorry for yourself because all your friends are out socialising, and you just don’t feel up to it, don’t be tempted to wallow in a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. Studies show that a healthy balanced diet rich in key minerals and vitamins will not only up your energy levels, but may also reduce bleeding.

The NHS says women are at risk of iron deficiency or anaemia if they suffer from heavy bleeding over consecutive menstrual cycles, as they are losing more red blood cells than they can produce. To remedy this, and curb the symptoms of tiredness and headaches, you can take an iron supplement, or eat more iron-rich foods, such as; beef, chicken liver, seafood like clams, mussels and oysters, and canned sardines in oil. To help your body absorb iron better, eat foods rich in vitamin C, like sweet potatoes, oranges and apples, green leafy veg and berries.

Intriguingly, some research (2)  suggests low levels of a number of key vitamins and minerals can increase menstrual bleeding, and that supplementing with a good multi-vitamin and eating a healthy diet can reduce heavy flow. Vitamin K, iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin D can help alleviate heavy menstrual bleeding .