It is often surprising to me when patients describe their periods as “normal,” particularly when pain, heavy flow, and mood swings are involved. So long as they bleed consistently around the same time every month, they consider these symptoms routine.
While every woman’s period varies (length, heaviness, PMS, etc.), these “common” symptoms shouldn’t be considered “normal”.
SO WHAT IS NORMAL?
A normal menstrual flow lasts between 3-7 days and happens every 26-34 days. For some women, their periods are very predictable, but it is normal to vary a little month-to-month.
Periods can be affected by many factors, including stress, sleep, hormone levels, as well as diet and lifestyle.
HOW MUCH BLOOD LOSS IS NORMAL?
The normal range is 30-80ml, but varies from person-to-person. The easiest way to measure volume is with a Diva Cup (silicone menstrual cup), but a general rule of thumb is that soaking more than 3 pads or 6 regular-absorbency tampons for more than 3 days would be excessive bleeding (and likely over 80ml during the period).
The heaviness of your period can change over time. If you have heavier periods for more than a few cycles, it may be worth looking into the underlying cause. Below are a few common causes of heavy periods:
- Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- Hormonal imbalance (low progesterone, high estrogen, lack of ovulation)
- A bleeding disorder (such as low platelet levels or a hereditary clotting disorder)
- Inflammation – largely affected by environmental factors (diet, lifestyle, and hormone-disrupting chemicals)
- Medications (NSAIDs, hormone medications, blood thinners, and nicotine) and certain forms of contraception (copper-IUD for example)
Not only are heavy periods uncomfortable and inconvenient, they can have more serious health consequences. The most common complication is low iron levels, causing extreme fatigue.
Don’t let your periods get in your way!
Pain-free, normal flow periods are possible!
Talk to our team of Naturopathic Doctors to get to the bottom of your period woes.
Dr. McNaughton, ND