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Alex Fulton

Alex Fulton has been working in the wellness field for more than 20 years. She has written extensively about integrative medicine, herbalism, supplements and other topics related to holistic health. Alex also focuses on issues related to women's health, from menstruation to menopause. She has collaborated with physicians, midwives and functional medicine practitioners to promote natural approaches to health care for women. She has a BA in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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What’s Normal When It Comes to Menstrual Bleeding?

What’s Normal When It Comes to Menstrual Bleeding?

Is your heavy period normal, or could it be a symptom of something else?

Conditions & Treatments

Infographic on heavy menstrual bleeding

Heavy menstrual bleeding affects about 1 in 5 women in the United States.

It’s one of the most common problems women report to their healthcare providers — and many more cases may be unreported because women don’t realize anything is wrong.

Many women assume heavy bleeding is normal, but it could be a symptom of uterine fibroids.

Uterine fibroids are:

  • Muscular growths of the uterus
  • Benign (non-cancerous)
  • Linked to health problems such as pelvic pain, anemia (low iron) and infertility

Approximately 8 out of 10 women will have fibroids at some point in their lives.

Black women are 3x more likely than white women to develop fibroids in the U.S.

Heavy vs. normal bleeding

Your period is considered abnormally heavy if it lasts longer than five days (not including spotting) and you lose 80 milliliters (about ⅓ cup) of blood every month.

1 hour

3 hours

>3 hours

Heavy Flow
Soaking through 1 or more pad or tampon every 1-2 hours

Moderate Flow
Soaking more than 1 pad or tampon in 3 hours

Mid/Light Flow
Soaking less than 1 pad or tampon in more than 3 hours

Minimal Vaginal Bleeding
Spotting or a few drops of blood

In addition to fibroids, heavy bleeding may be a symptom of:

  • A hormone imbalance, such as thyroid disease or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Uterine or cervical cancer
  • Bleeding disorders
  • An infection, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea and chlamydia
  • Certain medications, including blood thinners and hormonal birth control

Just because your period has always been heavy doesn’t mean it isn’t cause for concern now.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your healthcare provider about your period

✔️ Before your appointment, make notes about your bleeding.

✔️ At the appointment, share your notes and any concerns with your HCP. They will likely do an exam and tests (including a blood test) to figure out what’s causing your bleeding.

  • If you do have fibroids, it doesn’t always mean you’ll need surgery. Many women don’t need treatment. Other women can manage their fibroid symptoms with medications.
  • Even if you don’t think your monthly bleeding is heavy or abnormal, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your HCP about your period. Once you start making notes about your bleeding, it will be easier to notice any changes.
  • You don’t have to live with heavy bleeding just because you always have! Help is only a conversation away.

This resource was created with support from Pfizer Inc. and Myovant Sciences.

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