Any alterations from a normal menstrual cycle may result in irregular or heavy periods. Periods are regarded as heavy if the blood loss is more in quantity and quality. If uterine bleeding occurs for more than 7 days and soaks more than 4-5 pads, the periods are termed as heavy and irregular.
The Menstrual Cycle and Period Problems
Monthly periods usually starts in young girls around 12-14 years of age and lasts till 40 years of age. The menstrual cycle reflects the commencement of puberty in girls. Menstruation is caused by periodic shedding of endometrial lining of the uterus.
This monthly cycle is affected by hormones and psychological factors like stress, depression, etc. On an average the menstrual cycle every 25 days and the bleeding phase lasts for 4-7 days.
What is Irregular or Heavy Periods?
The menstrual disorders can be in the form of scanty bleeding, heavy or prolonged menses (menorrhagia), metrorrhagia, polymenorrhoea and absence of periods (amenorrhea). Irregular and heavy periods are a common medical problem encountered in young women and menopausal women.
Jeanette Winterson has said,” When she bleeds the smell I know change color. There is iron in her soul on those days. She smells like a gun.”
Causes Of Irregular or Heavy Period and Risk Factors
Hormonal change is the most common cause of irregular and heavy periods. Other causes for irregular or heavy periods are listed below:
- Endometrial cancer
- Bleeding disorders such as Von Willebrand Disease
- Changes in the diet
- Changes in routine exercise
- Endometrial hyperplasia
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Heavy Periods due to Uterine Fibroids
- Polyps of uterus
- Medical conditions like pituitary and thyroid disorders, Systemic lupus erythematosus, cirrhosis of liver
- Pelvic inflammatory diseases
- Complication so pregnancy such as ectopic pregnancy, miscarriages, etc.
- Recent weight gain or weight loss
- Stressful conditions causing heavy periods
- Recent uterine surgery or injury causing heavy periods
- Intrauterine contraceptive device or contraceptive pills causing heavy periods
- Drugs like warfarin and steroids may also cause heavy periods
Common Symptoms of Irregular Vaginal Bleeding
Common Manifestations of irregular vaginal bleeding or heavy periods are enlisted below:
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse
- Spotting or bleeding between periods
- Vaginal bleeding for more than normal days such as bleeding lasting beyond seven days
- Menstrual cycle lasting less than 28 days or more than 35 days
- Bleeding from vagina even after the onset of menopause
- Bleeding for normal number of days but the quantity of blood loss is more than the normal
- Abdominal cramps or discomfort
15 Ways to Feel Better During Heavy Periods
It is very important to learn about the ways to handle heavy periods. Do not panic rather know how to effectively and intelligently deal with such situation.
1. Make a Record
Make a record of the onset of menstruation and the time when it ends. You should also mention the nature of blood flow and presence of pain or discomfort during heavy flow. This record will help you prepare with the coming predicament and will ease your worries.
2. Personal Hygiene
You should maintain good personal and vaginal hygiene. Take bath and use deodorants to feel better and smell good at the same time.
3. Good Quality Sanitary Napkins
Use good quality sanitary napkins and change them twice a day to avoid the invading infection. Never use homemade cloth pads, they are unhygienic and messy.
4. Avoid Aspirin
If you experience abdominal cramps during menses, use ibuprofen instead of aspirin. Aspirin is known to prolong bleeding while ibuprofen reduces blood loss.
5. Adopt Lifestyle Changes
A deranged lifestyle affects your menstrual cycle and may result in prolonged or heavy periods. The painful symptoms may be exacerbated by sedentary lifestyle and increased intake of beverages and alcohol.
Too much of stress can not only traumatize your mental health but also adversely affects your hormonal secretions and alters the normal menstrual cycle. The outcome is heavy and irregular periods.
Resorting to yoga and introspection prove beneficial in dealing with stress. Sound night sleep is also very important so make sure you had slept soundly and peacefully at night. Incorporate complex carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits and water in your daily diet and be sure to have normal periods.
6. Drugs and Surgery
In severe cases, medical interventions are required, as drastic steps such as endometrial surgery, are to be done. Seek the services of a gynecologist for further treatment and do not wait.
7. Alternative Medicines
Alternative medicines promise effective and useful treatment to treat the frustrating symptoms experienced by a woman with irregular periods. Unani medicine and Ayurveda claim to have proven treatments for heavy periods and in conjunction with a positive lifestyle, they are known to treat the agonizing situation.
8. Increase the Iron Content
Increase the iron content in your diet. This can be done by eating green leafy vegetables and fruits. It will compensate the iron lost from your body in the form of precious hemoglobin.
9. Avoid Hormonal Contraceptives
Oral hormonal contraceptive pills contain estrogen and progesterone hormone. These have direct role in altering the menstrual cycle. Avoid taking them and adopt other methods of contraception.
10. Get Your Hemoglobin Tested
Get your blood test done to find out your hemoglobin level and find out any blood disorder. Blood tests will show whether you are anemic or not. Anemia will further worsen the situation.
11. Keep yourself Hydrated
Drink plenty of water and maintain hydration while you are having periods. Dehydration may further prolong heavy periods and make you weak.
12. Moist Heat
Apply moist heat such as hot water bottle to deal with abdominal cramps.
13. Take Sufficient Rest
During periods make sure you rest and keep your self de-stressed. Adequate rest can alleviate your down mood and uplift your spirit and will also decrease the blood flow.
14. Take Multivitamins
Take multivitamins tablets throughout the month to replenish the vital ingredients lost from your body during heavy periods. This will reduce the generalized weakness that you complaint of.
15. Eat Between Meals
Avoid keeping your stomach empty, eat in between meals. Take some light snack or healthy biscuits. This will lessen the abdominal cramps.
What to do during Irregular and Heavy Periods?
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