Most women can agree upon one thing: having your period is arguably the worst time of the month. But imagine the pain being so unbearable you have to miss days of work, or having such a heavy flow, your tampon needs to be changed every hour.
Abnormal uterine bleeding can have a devastating impact on a woman’s life, affecting their physical, mental and even social wellbeing. The good news, however, is that it can be treated. Here’s everything you need to know about the condition.
How can you tell if your period is ‘normal’?
According to Wear White Again, you should lose between 4-12 teaspoons each period, bleeding should occur every 24-31 days, and should last between 4-7 days.
What are the signs to look out for of an ‘abnormal period’?
Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Rachel Green shared the red flags women need to look out for that indicate an abnormal period. These symptoms include relying on painkillers to cope with the discomfort, nausea and vomiting, bladder symptoms (such as needing to urinate frequently), bowel pain, or having to get up through the night (either through discomfort or through frequently having to change sanitary protection).
At what stage should a woman see their doctor about their heavy bleeding?
‘A woman understanding what is normal and what is abnormal is critical,’ says Dr Green. A visit to the GP is recommended if a woman suffers from bleeding in-between periods or after sex, relies on painkillers to cope with period pain, is passing clots, has to change sanitary protection excessively (every 1-2 hours) or feels tired all the time (which may be caused by low iron levels).
What treatment options are available?
There are hormonal and non-hormonal treatments a patient can choose depending on their personal preference. Hormonal medication, such as the pill or Mirena IUD, can impact on a woman’s fertility, whereas non-hormonal medication is something a woman takes during their period that aims to reduce blood flow and doesn’t affect fertility.
There are also surgical options available, including endometrial ablation, [a procedure] where the lining of the womb is removed.
‘Often the first line management strategy is Mirena or ablation,’ explains Dr Green. ‘If I see someone who really needs contraception and doesn’t want to have surgery then Mirena is a good option. With patients who want a hormone-free option, want to have their tubes tied or have good contraception then ablation is a really good option … the speed of resolution is what sells ablation so well, whereas Mirena will take 3-6 and sometimes 12 months.’