After years of living with your period, you know a thing or two about your cycle by now. Although there are many common symptoms, like bloating and cramps, each of us experiences our period in a different way, so it's hard to say what's normal and what's not. But there are a few red flags that you should never ignore, according to Alyssa Dweck, MD, gynaecologist in New York, author of The Complete A to Z For Your V: A Woman's Guide to Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Vagina, and the latest spokesperson for Monistat.
One thing Dr. Dweck is often asked is what constitutes a heavy period? More importantly, when does a heavy period become something to speak to your doctor about? It's a question that many women don't feel comfortable asking because talking about blood isn't exactly the most pleasant thing in the world — but it's a topic that needs to be discussed, especially if you think you might have an abnormally heavy flow.
"It's so hard to quantify the amount of blood that people are passing," Dr. Dweck said, particularly because it always looks like a lot more when it's sitting in a bowl of toilet water. But here's the distinguishing factor: "Our usual guideline is if you're soaking through two super tampons or pads in an hour, that's heavy enough to warrant concern."
If this sounds familiar, don't hesitate speaking to your doctor. Having this kind of heavy period, which is technically called menorrhagia, could mean you have a hormonal imbalance, which would cause the lining of your uterus to get too thick and result in a whole lot of blood. It could point to growths of polyps or fibroids in your uterus, which result in heavier, longer periods. It might also indicate premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which also includes severe mood swings and extremely painful cramps.
All of these are treatable, but only if you speak to your doctor and come up with a game plan. Another thing Dr. Dweck says to keep an eye out for is "if something changes significantly" in your cycle. If your flow suddenly gets heavy for no apparent reason and it stays that way for a couple of months, schedule an appointment with your doc.
When it comes to your menstrual health, it's better to err on the side of caution. Besides, you have nothing to lose by simply talking to your doctor, even if it turns out there's nothing wrong.
Product Credit: Off-White ℅ Virgil Abloh sweatshirt and jeans, Sacai jacket