This is a sponsored post from Change the Cycle. All opinions are my own.
Menstruation. Something that most all women have to deal with since we were in our early teens (or younger.) So many names for our monthly event; The curse, Aunt Flo, period, that time of the month and one I literally just heard for the first time last week; shark week! Lol.
There are so many more names for it because it is just a way of life. We know it is coming every few weeks and we have to just deal with it. For some, it is no big deal and for others, unfortunately, it can be debilitating each month.
The days up to your period can be rough with symptoms of PMS. Then when you finally are menstruating, it can bring a whole list of grievances: cramps, heavy bleeding, headache, backache, tiredness and the list can go on-and-on.
As women, we have talked about our periods with our girlfriends, family, co-workers because we can all relate that it isn’t the most fun time of the month. But do we really know when some of those grievances can be a health issue? I think we know that each and every month we’ll have our period and that we just have to deal with it. But there could be some issues that may be happening that never cross our minds, even if they could indicate that something is seriously wrong.
When thinking about your menstrual cycle it is important to evaluate if your annoying period has crossed over into abnormal heavy bleeding. Because what you might think is just a normal period may not be.
Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) can occur at any time and any age, but is more common for women at reproductive age. And did you know that 1 in 5 women will experience heavy bleeding in their lifetime?1
Not sure where your period stands? You may have abnormal uterine bleeding if you experience the following:2
- Have a menstrual flow that soaks through one or more pads or tampons every hour for several hours in a row.
- Need to double up on pads to control your menstrual flow.
- Need to change pads or tampons during the night.
- Have menstrual periods lasting more than 7 days.
- Have a menstrual flow with blood clots the size of a quarter or larger.
- Have a heavy menstrual flow that keeps you from doing the things you would do normally.
- Have constant pain in the lower part of the stomach during your periods.
- Are tired, lack energy, or are short of breath.
If you think your period may be abnormal, you can fill out a quick checklist to bring to your next OBGYN appointment; or share it with a loved one who may be suffering.
Most women don’t even realize they have AUB, or they suffer in silence because they think they just have a rougher menstrual flow than others. But there are treatment options.
I am sure if you’re like me, you hate to wear white during the week of your period in case there are any “accidents”. We don’t want the embarrassment of blood on our pants for all to see and of course we don’t want to ruin our beautiful white pants, shorts or skirt with a stain.
But we don’t have to live in fear. Especially those with a heavy flow. Once you have a discussion with your OBGYN about your concerns, you both can come up with a solution to relieve or eliminate your AUB, so you can wear white all year long without fear! Yes, even after labor day!
I had a chance to ask Dr. Jessica Shepherd, Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, some questions about what is considered normal vs. abnormal flow. Below are her answers
Q. Should we expect any changes to our period after we have a baby?
Dr. Shepherd: After having a baby, the first period can be surprisingly different, and may be slightly heavier than your periods from before pregnancy. This may not last long however it can alarm some women. Also keep in mind that it is possible to become pregnant before your period arrives, and to take precautions if you aren’t ready to get pregnant again right away.
Q. What are some of the important warning signs related to our period that we should bring up to our doctor?
Dr. Shepherd: Any bleeding that is excessively heavy and lasts longer than 7 days or has bleeding that requires changing a pad in less than one hour should be discussed with your doctor.
Q. Are blog clots normal?
Dr. Shepherd: Blood clots can be normal in periods and sometimes are larger than a quarter. If the sizes of the clots become progressively larger over time or the bleeding becomes heavier in a matter of hours or with each period, one should consult their doctor for consultation.
Q. If I had bad cramps before I had a baby, will they be less painful after giving birth, or does nothing change?
Dr. Shepherd: Many women may experience extremely painful cramps after giving birth and that can be caused by the hormones known as prostaglandins. Pain can be correlated often to the amount of blood that is being shed from the uterus, and is because of the prostaglandins released from the body during a menstrual cycle. These cramps may be just for a few cycles however if they continue for more than 6 cycles, you should see your gynecologist to discuss possible causes and also ways to help alleviate the symptoms
Q. How much is too much blood during your period?
Dr. Shepherd: When periods increase in flow that is much different than previous periods or you feel symptoms like lightheadedness, shortness of breath or heart palpitations, you should have it checked by a doctor. Also if your period causes you to change your daily routines like going to work or going out with friends, then that may be an indication that is time to see your doctor.
Q. What are some causes of an abnormal cycle?
Dr. Shepherd: An abnormal cycle can happen when there is a lack of regularity due to hormonal changes as your body transitions to find its normal equilibrium. These changes in a cycle can happen because of a change in the hormonal balance from stress, change in a job, a divorce, loss of a loved one or even after a delivery.
Q. Are there ways to regulate an irregular period?
Dr. Shepherd: Every woman is different, and every woman’s cycle is different. While the average cycle may be 28 days, it’s normal for a cycle to last anywhere from 22 to 35 days. Any less or greater than those days are times at which you should consult your healthcare provider. Ways to help regulate your period can include exercise, changing your diet to more whole, unprocessed foods, weight loss, or managing any health problems like hypertension, diabetes, or thyroid issues. Also trying a form of birth control can help regulate your period.
Q. What are the best ways to relieve PMS symptoms, tell me chocolate is on that list!
Dr. Shepherd: Definitely decrease the intake of a salt-heavy diet which can cause bloating. Staying away from too much sugar is also important as it can destabilize your blood sugar and mood. Foods that help with PMS are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains which if taken the week before your period, can help decrease the symptoms. One of the best ways to help combat PMS is exercise! Exercise can fight both physical and emotional PMS symptoms and greatly improve energy stores. Exercise will get your heart rate up and allow more oxygenation to the organs which can help decrease cramping in the uterus. Also yoga and Pilates can help balance the mind and help with relaxation.
Change the Cycle is there to help encourage women to wear white and rid themselves of the fear of accidents from a heavy period by taking control. No more fear. Wear that white!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Blood disorders in women: heavy menstrual bleeding. Accessed January 4, 2017. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html.
- Centers for Disease Control, Heavy Menstrual Bleeding. Accessed October 24, 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html