According to ‘Women’s Health Concern’, 1 in 20 women see their GP about heavy bleeding every year.
Heavy periods are common and are not always a sign that there is an underlying health concern. Heavy periods can have an emotional and physical impact.
It can be hard to determine if someone is experiencing heavy periods as everyone’s periods are different. However, there are some guidelines that doctors use to decide, including
- Change your period protection every two hours
- Pass blood clots larger than 2.5 cm (size of a 10p)
- Bleed through your clothes
- Need to double-up on period protection
Causes of Heavy Bleeding
Often there isn’t a reason behind why someone will have a heavy period. However, if your doctor has concerns they may examine you for conditions such as
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- In rare cases it can be a sign of womb cancer
Diagnosing Heavy Periods
To determine the cause, your doctor may ask you a series of questions such as the length of your period, how often you change your period protection, if you are experiencing stomach cramps, and if you have irregular bleeding.
They may wish to examine your tummy to see if your ovaries are enlarged or feel tender and look at your cervix to help them find out the reasons behind the heavy bleeding. If the thought of having a physical exam is scary then take steps to make yourself feel comfortable such as taking a friend with you or asking for a female doctor.
Your doctor may request a blood test and are likely to test for iron-deficiency, as it is common for women who bleed heavily to become anemic. They may also refer you for an ultrasound, or a hysteroscopy.
There are a range of treatments available to manage heavy bleeding, both medical and herbal
Medical Treatment For Heavy Bleeding
There are a range of treatments that your doctor can try to reduce your heavy bleeding such as
- Combined pill
- Progesterone tablets
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets (NSAID)
- Anticoagulant medication to prevent blood clots
There are other procedures, including surgery, available for women with severe bleeding where the above has not been effective for them.
Herbal Remedies Used For Treating Heavy Periods
Herbal treatments are an option that some women use to reduce their heavy bleeding. Herbal remedies also have fewer complications for the immune system.
Studies have shown that ginger can be effective in reducing heavy periods. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that inhibit prostaglandin production, which can reduce cramping and inflammation related to heavy periods.
Ginger can be consumed
- In a tea by boiling a slice of ginger in a pan of water for 5-7 minutes, strain, and then add honey or sugar to drink
- Grated into a soup or a stir-fry
- Dandelion leaf may help stomach bloating
Chaste Tree - Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus)
Vitex is a berry-bearing shrub which is grown in hot countries and is used to balance hormones and to treat abnormal bleeding. Studies have shown it to be effective in treating heavy bleeding. Vitex is not fast acting and may take a few months to have an effect on your menstrual bleeding.
Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
Shepherd’s Purse is a plant that grows all over the world. It can be used to reduce heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding and cramps.
Taking Shepherd’s Purse may cause uterine smooth muscle contractions which indicates that this is one way of reducing menstrual bleeding as the contractions serve to constrict blood vessels.
Shepherd’s Purse can be used in a tincture form by adding drops to a glass of water or in a tea. It is advised to start with a lower dose and build up to a larger dose if needed, taken at certain points within your cycle. You can buy Shepherd’s Purse online or in some natural food shops.
All herbal remedies should be taken under the guidance of an herbalist or doctor to ensure it is taken correctly and that it won’t interfere with any other medications you may be taking.
More research is needed into herbal medications and how it can help women with heavy periods. Please bear this in mind when deciding upon which treatment option to follow and always seek medical advice.
Heavy periods are common and are not usually anything to worry about, however, they can be annoying and interfere with daily life. It’s advised to chat to your doctor if you are concerned about your heavy bleeding as they can rule out any underlying causes and recommend treatment options.
There are a range of herbal treatments that can be tried to help reduce heavy bleeding. If you prefer to use herbal remedies then it’s important to seek the advice of a doctor or qualified herbalist first to make sure it is safe to do so.