Let's Talk Period - How Do I Know if My Periods Are Heavy


In our line of work, the questions that are often the most personal ones are the ones we are asked the most. Menstruation is not something that’s talked about openly and it is for this reason that many women are in the dark about whether or not their bodies are “doing what they are supposed to be doing.” While normal is difficult to define, understanding what a heavy period is can be the difference between suffering in silence and getting the treatment you need.

The medical term for heavy periods is Heavy Menstrual Bleeding (HMB). HMB is defined as “excessive menstrual blood loss which interferes with the woman’s physical, social, emotional and/or material quality of life… [that] can occur alone or in combination with other symptoms.” 

We know that up to 30% of women report HMB at some point during their reproductive years, many of whom seek medical attention for this problem. Objectively, HMB is more than 80 mls of blood loss per period, but that definition is of no value clinically. Features that correlate with more than 80 mls of menstrual blood loss include:

  • Regularly having to change sanitary protection more than every hour
  • Frequently soaking through pyjamas and bedsheets at night
  • Being iron deficient, particularly if this leads to anemia
  • Having periods that consistently last longer than 7 days

Identifying HMB is important because untreated, it can lead to missed days of work and school and a decreased quality of life. Effective treatments are available, whether the cause of HMB is an underlying bleeding disorder, or another cause such as uterine fibroids.

To learn more about effective treatments or to continue the conversation, please get in touch with us by writing to us at the
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Singh S, J Obstet Gynaecol Can, 2013; Warner, ACOG, 2004; Kadir, Lancet, 1998; Kouides, Haemophilia, 2002.