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Menorrhagia is another name for what you might call heavy periods. These are very painful and very heavy period bleeding that make daily life difficult and can be caused by many factors. Underestimating them can have major consequences for our health.

Find out the common symptoms of menorrhagia and how to get help.

Table of contents:

What is menorrhagia?

Heavy periods are the worst. They’re draining, they’re annoying, and sometimes they really hurt! A very heavy period, also called menorrhagia, can be caused by many things – changes in hormone levels, weight loss or gain, changes in diet and exercise routines, medical conditions and more. If you are experiencing several of these changes, consider talking to your doctor about menorrhagia symptoms or heavy menstrual bleeding.

Heavy menstrual bleeding may have consequences to your sleep, causes pain in the lower abdomen and makes it hard to enjoy your usual activities. If you are experiencing weakness, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Very heavy period - how often does it occur?

Super heavy period is a problem that affects around 10-30% of women. Unfortunately, only about 5% of patients affected by menorrhagia seek help from a specialist. This is due to various conditions, including difficulties in objectively assessing the volume of bleeding or, for example, the fact that similar bleeding runs in the family of a mother or sister.

Is heavy period bleeding serious?

Heavy periods can have various causes, not just anatomical ones. When you have a suspicion that this has happened to you, do not underestimate the symptoms, as very heavy periods can be caused by a variety of factors, including diseases and anatomical changes:

  • uterine myomas - most commonly those that grow inside the uterus,
  • uterine polyps - can cause prolonged periods,
  • endometriosis - in addition to heavy and painful menstruation, there will also be e.g. chronic pain, diarrhoea, constipation,
  • adenomyosis - a type of endometriosis,
  • endometrial cancer - heavy periods may occur in the middle of the monthly cycle (between bleedings),
  • cervical cancer - bleeding may occur between menstrual periods,
  • pelvic inflammatory syndrome - there is pain in the pelvis and lower abdomen,
  • functional uterine bleeding - is caused by a non-ovulatory cycle, leads to bleeding,
  • defects in anatomical structure - for example, a double uterus,
  • diseases of the ovaries - ovarian cancer, ovarian cyst,
  • extrauterine pregnancy,
  • blood coagulation disorders,
  • hypothyroidism.

Menorrhagia (heavy periods) symptoms

If you’re not sure if your heavy periods cross the line to qualify as menorrhagia, compare your experiences to the ones listed below. This may help you to determine the causes of your menorrhagia.

  1. Are your periods heavier than usual? Do they last longer?
  2. Does your bleeding soak through a pad or tampon every hour for two or more hours back to back?
  3. Do you notice sudden gushes in your flow? Are there large blood clots?
  4. Do you need to wake up to change your pads at night?
  5. Are you bleeding for a week or longer?
  6. Do you restrict what you do in your daily life because of your very heavy periods?
  7. Are you feeling symptoms of anaemia (fatigue or shortness of breath)?

It’s important to speak to your doctor – they may want to do a physical examination. They may recommend a cervical smear test or blood tests to check your iron count or thyroid. They can help you much better when they understand what else is going on in your body.

When you see your doctor, bring a record of your symptoms, notes about when your period begins and ends, and how many pads and tampons you use in a day and whether they are soaked through. This information will help your doctor to understand as much as possible before making a diagnosis.

In the meantime, make sure to protect yourself from leaks during heavy periods. There are a variety of ALWAYS pads designed for heavy-flow days. Have a look at our selection of ALWAYS pads for overnight protection.

Why's my period so heavy - how long does the bleeding last?

The heaviest period bleeding is during the first two or three after the start of bleeding. If very heavy period is prolonged - it lasts longer than 7-10 days, but occurs at regular intervals, it is called menorrhagia.

Find out: how to calculate your menstrual cycle!

Causes of menorrhagia (heavy periods)

Heavy period is one of the most commonly diagnosed menstrual disorders. In the course of heavy menstruation, a woman loses blood in excessive amounts, i.e. more than 100 ml (30 to 80 ml of blood can be lost correctly.) There are many reasons and factors that can causes of heavy periods - for example, anatomical or hormonal.

Here are some conditions that can cause heavy period symptoms:

Hormone imbalance

If your levels of oestrogen and progesterone get out of whack, the uterine lining develops in excess and eventually sheds more menstrual bleeding than usual. Such disorders can be caused by a malfunction of the thyroid gland - hypothyroidism. This causes the production of excess oestrogen, which can lead to premature or delayed menstruation and heavy bleeding.

Ovary dysfunction

If you don’t ovulate, your body doesn't produce as much progesterone as it would during a normal menstrual cycle. Ovarian diseases cause the ovaries not to function properly. Ovarian cancer - granuloma is responsible for irregular periods and heavy bleeding in women during their reproductive years. It is one type of ovarian tumour. Early symptoms of ovarian cancer are uncharacteristic, as they may alternate between constipation and diarrhoea and there may be a feeling of fullness in the epigastrium. Ovarian cysts also cause heavy menstruation. They cause a range of symptoms - enlarging abdominal girth, various types of pain, nausea, vomiting.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

This infection of the reproductive organs that can have severe complications if not treated. It can involve the endometrium or the cervix, or attack both. It can be acute or chronic. The coil (IUD) can be the source of infection, as it can cause local inflammation of the endometrium resulting in excessive bleeding.

Pregnancy complications

This could signal a miscarriage or an unusual location of the placenta. In addition, the appearance of sudden heavy bleeding in a woman can also result in an ectopic pregnancy. In the case of such intense and unexpected bleeding, prompt medical attention is necessary.


Certain anti-inflammatory medications, hormonal treatments and anticoagulants can affect bleeding. For example, heavy bleeding can be caused by anticoagulants and even dietary supplements that affect blood clotting. Also, the use of contraception in the form of the so-called IUD can significantly increase bleeding during a period.

Endometriosis and adenomyosis

Endometriosis causes around 70% of pelvic pain, including causing painful and very heavy periods. Adenomyosis may or may not occur along with endometriosis. It causes spotting, bleeding between periods, and heavy and painful periods. It can lead to anaemia.

Uterine myomas

Uterine myomas, most often the submucosal ones, grow towards the center of the uterus, towards the mucous membrane lining the uterus from the inside. These are the ones that cause periods to be very painful, prolonged, heavy, with clots. This is due to the hindered contraction of the blood vessels of the uterus and the prolonged healing of the mucosal spaces during menstruation.

Uterine polyps

Polyps cause spotting and bleeding between periods, bleeding after intercourse, and prolonged, painful and heavy periods.

Other medical conditions

Ask your doctor about other possible reasons for your bleeding, based on your personal symptoms. For example, pre-menopausal women may suffer from heavy periods as a result of endocrine disruption of the reproductive system - the cessation of ovarian function.

There can be other medical conditions to menorrhagia, you can ask your doctor about other possible reasons for your bleeding, based on your personal symptoms. Your doctor will want to know when your period starts and stops, how many pads or tampons you go through in a day and whether they soaked through, and what your period symptoms are.

What causes heavy periods - proper diagnosis

During the visit, the gynaecologist will carry out a general interview with the patient, in which it is worth noting how many sanitary pads or tampons you use in one day during your period. In addition, he carries out a gynaecological examination and a speculum in the gynaecological chair. This initial assessment of the reproductive organs, allows the detection of inflammatory changes, anatomical anomalies, the presence of erosions, cysts, nodules, ulcers and other pathologies. This is followed by an ultrasound examination (usually transvaginal), which gives an excellent insight into the condition of the uterus, ovaries and surrounding tissues. Laboratory tests are also important - determination of beta-HCG, blood count, coagulation parameters, iron levels, FSH, LH, oestradiol, prolactin levels, TSH thyroid hormones and other tests depending on the patient's condition, age, possible chronic diseases.

How to stop heavy periods - treatment for heavy periods

The treatment of heavy period bleeding depends on its cause. Causal therapy will address cases of anatomical abnormalities such as myomas, polyps, complications of pregnancy or trauma to the reproductive organs. In cases of haemorrhage or when there has been a large loss of blood and deterioration of the patient's general condition, transfusion of blood products may be necessary.

On the other hand, if the patient's condition is good, pharmacological treatment is sufficient, which, depending on the indications in the individual woman, includes: oestrogens, antifibrinolytic drugs, hormonal contraception, IUD. Treatment will always be decided by the doctor. In patients diagnosed with a specific haemorrhagic diathesis, treatment is supervised by a haematologist.

It is very important to see a gynaecologist early for diagnosis and implementation of treatment.

Sanitary pads for heavy flow

To ensure that you are comfortable every day of your period, especially when you are struggling with heavy bleeding - you need to start by choosing the right hygiene product. First of all, choose the right size of sanitary pads and adjust their absorbency.