An Introduction to Heavy Periods in Perimenopause
Perimenopause is the 4-10 year time frame before your periods cease and you enter into menopause at around 50. It’s a time characterized by fluctuating hormones, and symptoms caused by that (hot flashes, mood changes, weight gain, etc).
Perimenopausal periods can do just about anything!
- Getting heavier or longer
- Becoming shorter in the number of days bleeding
- A shorter menstrual cycle, or a longer one.
What happens really depends on your body. In addition, some people experience almost no symptoms like hot flashes, or insomnia while others are plagued by them for years.
If you’ve having very heavy periods in the years before menopause, keep on reading. We’ll talk about some of the causes, as well as treatment options and how to handle them.
Please know that you’re not alone, heavy periods in menopause happen to around 25% of people.
Heavy Periods in Perimenopause: Causes
There are a number of different reasons why you may experience heavier bleeding during perimenopause. Please see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
The most common reason for heavy pre-menopausal periods is hormonal imbalance. The balance between estrogen and progesterone fluctuates, causing menstrual cycle changes.
In this cause, estrogen levels are higher than progesterone, which causes the uterine lining to become thicker. When it does shed, it’s very heavy and/or prolonged.
Fibroids or Polyps
These growths are (usually) non-cancerous, but they can cause heavy bleeding. This is especially true when they’re growing in the uterus.
Other Reasons for a Very Heavy Period
There are some additional reasons you may have a heavy flow. They include a blood clotting disorder, taking blood thinners or anti-inflammatories, infection, miscarriage, etc.
Heavy Periods in Perimenopause: Treatments
There are a number of different treatment options that your doctor may recommend. Some of them could include:
This will not stop the heavy periods you may be having, but it can help deal with a common symptom of them: Anemia (low iron levels).
A simple blood test is all it takes to find out if you’re low on iron. If you are, you’ll probably feel fatigued, weak, dizzy, etc. Your doctor may recommend iron supplements in this case.
Studies have shown that taking NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen regularly during a heavy flow can reduce it by 25-40%. Check with your doctor to see if this option is right for you, and also what dosage you should be taking.
If the cause of your heavy periods is a hormonal imbalance, your doctor may get you started on progesterone therapy. This is known to reduce menstrual flow.
Alternatively, your doctor may get you started on a standard course of Hormone Replacement Therapy for Perimenopausal Women.
Finally, if polyps or fibroids are the source of your excessive bleeding, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove them.
Or, they may recommend removal of the uterus altogether. This is known as a hysterectomy.
Final Thoughts on Treatments
Remember: we are not doctors. Please see your doctor who will be able to offer you the best advice. The treatment really does depend on the cause, which nobody is able to accurately diagnose over the Internet.
In addition, there are some serious conditions that can cause heavy bleeding which should be ruled out. Only a doctor will be able to do this.
Do I Have Mennorrhagia?
If you have an extremely heavy, or extended period, your doctor may diagnose you with Mennorrhagia. Some of the signs of Mennorrhagia include:
- Bleeding through a pad or tampon every hour for multiple hours in a row
- Getting up multiple times in the night to change out your period protection
- Bleeding for longer than 7 days
- Inability to continue with normal activities during a period
What’s the official definition? It’s losing more than 80 ml of fluid during your period. The average person loses around 30 ml. A menstrual cup can be really useful for keeping track of this.
Do I Have Menometrorrhagia?
If you have a heavy and also irregular period, it’s called Menometrorrhagia. Some of the signs of this menstrual disorder include:
- Bleeding between periods
- Seemingly random menstrual cycles
- Very heavy flow that can hinder normal activities
- A flow longer than 7 days
How Do I Track My Flow?
It can be really useful information for your doctor if you track your flow. A simple way to do this is in your phone calendar. Keep track of:
- When you started your period
- How many days you bled for
- How much menstrual fluid you lost
- Other symptoms like PMS, cramps, etc.
- When you started your next period
- If you spotted between periods
Learn more about tracking your menstrual cycle here:
Perimenopause Heavy Periods: How to Deal with Them
It can be really annoying to deal with Perimenopausal heavy periods. However, here are a few quick tips for handling it in style.
Consider Using a Menstrual Cup
A jumbo tampon holds around 10 ml of fluid, while a regular one holds 5 ml. A normal menstrual cup (the Diva Cup for example) holds 30 ml, while there are some high-capacity ones with room for up to 42 ml.
This extra capacity will give you a lot more freedom if you have a very heavy flow. Instead of changing your tampon every 2 hours, you may have 5-6 hours with a cup.
Pair a high-capacity period cup with a heavy pad and you may be able to sleep through the night. It’s kind of a game-changer, right?
Sounds like exactly what you need? You’ll want to check out the Super Jennie. It’s soft, comfortable, and the large size is one of the biggest menstrual cups you can buy.
Check out the Super Jennie for yourself over on Amazon:
Make the Switch to Reusable Cloth Pads or Period Panties
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A couple additional options to consider for dealing with a very heavy period are period panties and reusable cloth pads.
Cloth menstrual pads are similar to disposables, but they’re eco-friendly, affordable, and better for your health because they contain no toxic chemicals.
Check out some of our top picks for cloth pads here:
Period panties have a leakproof layer, and some of them have absorbent padding in them. They can give you a bit of extra confidence during a heavy flow that you won’t have any embarrassing leaks.
Check out our favourite period panties here:
More information here: Period Protection Options for Perimenopause.
Heavy Periods in Perimenopause: Have your Say!
What are your thoughts about Perimenopause heavy periods? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Reference: Our Bodies, Our Selves