Heavy periods - what you can do

How to cope with heavy periods


For some women, heavy periods are a regular occurrence every month which are often accompanied by period pain, bloating and PMS. Most of the time heavy menstrual bleeding is normal, but in some cases, it can be a sign of an underlying condition.  

Your periods are considered heavy if: 

  • You are having to change your tampon or pad every hour or two
  • You are passing clots of blood that are larger than a 10p coin 
  • You are bleeding through your sanitary products or clothes
  • You need to use both a tampon and pad at the same time 

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What causes heavy periods? 

There isn’t always anything causing your periods to be heavy but it could be a symptom of the following conditions: 

  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Fibroids
  • Cancer of the womb

The IUD (copper coil) can also lead to heavy periods and there are some medications- anticoagulants, chemotherapy and some herbal remedies which can cause heavier bleeding.


When should I see a GP? 

If you’ve noticed any changes in your menstrual bleeding, or if you are worried at any point, then it’s always okay to see your GP for advice.  There are other symptoms to look out for which could be a sign of an underlying problem. These include: 

  • Painful periods which have a significant impact on your day to day life
  • Pelvic pain
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Irregular discharge
  • Irregular periods
  • Fatigue 


How are heavy periods treated? 

The combined contraceptive pill is a popular way to control heavy periods. It contains both oestrogen and progesterone hormones which take control of your menstrual cycle and stop ovulation. When you take the pill, it essentially overrides your period, replacing it with an artificial cycle. This means that your periods will be lighter, less painful and more regular. 

This is a good option for women with conditions like endometriosis and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) as it regulates endometrial tissue and your cycle. It will also help to manage pain and make your time of the month more manageable. 

Some women may choose to delay their period ahead of certain events through the use of period delay tablets like Utovlan and Norethisterone


Can I use an IUS for heavy periods? 

An IUS (intrauterine system) can also help with heavy periods. This is a small, t-shaped plastic device which is inserted into the uterus, releasing hormones to prevent pregnancy from occurring. It helps to thin the lining of the womb, resulting in lighter periods but it can cause your periods to be irregular at first. 

The IUD (copper coil) can’t be used to treat heavy periods as it can have the opposite effect- heavy bleeding being one of the possible side effects. 



NHS> Heavy Periods:

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