Why Is My Period So Heavy ---
Causes and Top 8 Natural Remedies
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Last updated May 8, 2017, originally published November 25, 2012

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Doctors and Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and
other members of our Editorial Board.]

Do you dread your time of the month?  Do you suffer from a
heavy period that interferes with your sleep and your daily
life? Heavy periods are when you lose an excessive amount
of blood over consecutive menstruations. You could have
heavy bleeding by itself or in combination with menstrual

You may have been told to put up with it, but a heavy period
is a form of abnormal bleeding and it has a technical name –
menorrhagia. In severe cases, a heavy period can lead to
anemia which produces symptoms like fatigue and shortness
of breath. What can you do to stop heavy periods and get
back to leading a normal life? Are there any remedies, short
of surgery, that work for a heavy period?

Is My Period Heavy?

You probably know if you have a heavy period – the major
sign is enough blood to soak through a tampon or pad every
hour or so for many hours. Other signs include having to get
up in the night to change your pad or tampon, passing large
blood clots, and if your period last
s more than seven days.
You may need to use tampons and pads together.

Scientists have now arrived at a definition of heavy
menstrual bleeding. You have heavy menstrual bleeding if
you flow more than 80 ml
(about 2.7 ounces), according to
a 2013 study led by Dr. Sally Rafie of the University of
California San Diego Health Center.

How Many Women Have Heavy Periods?

Heavy or prolonged bleeding is the most common form of
abnormal bleeding from the uterus. Around one in 20
women between the ages of 30 and 49 goes to their doctor
for heavy periods each year, according to 1992 research
from Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, UK. And about one third of
women describe their periods as heavy, according to
Lethaby and Farquhar, 2003, “Treatments for heavy
menstrual bleeding” published in the British Medical Journal.

What Are the Causes of a Heavy Period?

There are several possible causes of heavy periods. You may
have a hormonal imbalance between your estrogen levels
and your progesterone levels. Hormonal imbalances are
more common in teenagers and in pre-menopausal women.

Pelvic inflammatory disease can also cause a heavy period, as
fibroids or noncancerous tumors of the uterus, and
endometriosis. If you have an intrauterine contraceptive
device fitted (otherwise known as the coil) you are likely to
experience heavier periods.

An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is also a
cause of heavy periods. In rare cases heavy menstrual
bleeding is a sign of uterine, ovarian or cervical cancer, a
miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. (Read more about the
signs of pelvic cancer.)

If there is an underlying cause
for your heavy period, this
should be treated first. If your period is extremely heavy and
does not respond to any drug treatment
, you may have to
have surgery.

Having a heavy period does not necessarily mean you have
something badly wrong – in fact, the UK’s National Health
Service says that no underlying cause is identified in 40 to 60
percent of heavy bleeding cases. But a heavy period can
affect how you live your life and how you feel, physically and
emotionally. We looked at the scientific evidence for heavy
period remedies to tell you how to get a lighter flow.

Top 8 Remedies for a Heavy Period

1. Treat Heavy Periods with Non-Steroidal Anti-
inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are over-the-counter
painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen. In addition to
reducing the flow of blood every month they also help
relieve associated cramping and menstrual pains.

The UK’s National Health Service says NSAIDs taken three or
four times a day can reduce blood loss by 20 to 49 percent.
How do they work? NSAIDs reduce your production of a
substance called "prostaglandin", a factor linked to heavy
periods. You can take NSAIDs over many cycles, although
the drugs may cause indigestion and diarrhea.

Iron is a Remedy for a Heavy Period

Losing a lot of blood every month can cause anemia and iron
deficiency, which in turn causes fatigue. A 2012 study from
The Ohio State University, Columbus showed iron deficiency
and fatigue are common in young women who suffer heavy
bleeding and severe fatigue was significantly higher in
women with heavy periods than those with a regular flow.
(Read more about
reasons for severe fatigue-- why are you
so tired?)

If you suffer from anemia you may be treated with iron
supplements. According to a 1964 study by Taymor, Sturgis
and Yahia entitled “The etiological role of chronic iron
deficiency in production of menorrhagia” 75 percent of
women who took iron to treat heavy periods saw an
improvement. (Read more about
foods that help anemia)

You may also suffer from a form of anemia known as
pernicious anemia, which can be helped by increasing the
amount of Vitamin B 12 in your diet.

Try Vitamin A for A Heavy Period

Vitamin A is an antioxidant, fat-soluble vitamin that helps
protect your cells from free radical damage. Vitamin A is
suggested as a treatment for heavy periods, as
demonstrated in the 1977 study by DM Lithgow and WM
Politzer “Vitamin A in the treatment of menorrhagia” which
saw women taking 25,000 IU daily of vitamin A and seeing
improvement in 92 percent of cases.

However, you must be careful to not take too much Vitamin
.  Because Vitamin A is fat soluble, if you take more than
your body needs, the excess is stored in your body's fat
tissues.  As a result, Vitamin A can
build up to potentially
toxic levels and must be used with caution if you are
pregnant or think you may be pregnant. (Read more about
Vitamin A deficiency.)

In any case, you should never take excess Vitamin A without
first consulting your doctor.

Fish Oil is a Potential Pain Reliever for Heavy Periods

Along with a heavy flow of blood comes cramping and often
severe menstrual pain. One suggested pain reliever is fish oil.
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which are believed to
have anti-inflammatory effects. Young women who took 6g
of fish oil a day experienced less menstrual pain in a 1996
study from the Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati.
(Read more about the
health benefits of fish oil)

Treat Endometriosis to Treat a Heavy Period

Endometriosis – the chronic and painful condition that
happens when uterine tissue grows outside the uterus – can
cause heavy menstrual bleeding as well as inflammation and
damage to other tissues.

Many women who suffer heavy periods as a result of
endometriosis find conventional treatment is not effective.
Many people try traditional Chinese herbal medicine,
including the herbs bupleurum, perilla, corydalis, dong quai
and cnidium. However, there has been no formal, scientific
trial to prove the benefits of this combination for treating
heavy period caused by endometriosis. (Read more about
remedies for endometriosis.)

As a last resort, some women may have to undergo chemical
menopause to treat endometriosis. (Read more about the
side effects and remedies for chemical menopause.)

Treat Hypothyroidism, a Cause of Heavy Periods

Having an under-active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can
cause your periods to become heavy and long-lasting. There
are some alternative treatments for hypothyroidism that may
be used, although check with your doctor to both ascertain
your thyroid status and to see what could help you best.
Some experts suggest avoiding soy – soy can percent
thyroid medication from working correctly, as shown in a
1997 study by researchers at the Hurley Medical Center,
Flint, Michigan.

Some people have treated hypothyroidism with acupuncture,
including the participants of a 1993 study from the Shanghai
Medical University, China where patients experienced
improvements in symptoms of hypothyroidism, which include
heavy periods. Acupuncture may also be effective for
reducing the pain that comes with heavy periods. A 2002
study from the University of California-San Francisco, which
tested a special garment designed to press the acupuncture
points related to pain during menstruation, found
acupuncture was useful.

Can Magnesium Help Women Who Suffer from Heavy

Experts suggest that the pain which accompanies a heavy
period may be eased by
magnesium supplements. Treatment
with magnesium significantly improved symptoms, according
to a 1989 study from the Medizinischen Akademie
Magdeburg, Germany and similar results were discovered in
a 1990 study by the Universitätsspital Zürich, Germany.
(Read about almonds and other
foods high in magnesium.)

Oral Contraceptives as a Heavy Period Remedy

In many cases heavy periods can be lightened by taking the
oral contraceptive pill. As well as giving birth control benefits
(to those women who are sexually active) the pill can assist
in regulating your menstrual cycle and reducing episodes of
heavy or prolonged bleeding. A 2005 study from Wright
State University School of Medicine, Dayton, Ohio showed
that oral contraceptives were effective at managing heavy
periods in adolescents.

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Connection / Are Diet Sodas Bad for Your Health? / Ideal
Breakfast for Diabetics / Ideal Breakfast for Arthritis
Healing Foods Links /  Foods That Shrink Your Waist /
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Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure

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almonds can help ease heavy periods
Almonds can help ease symptoms of a
heavy period.