These are questions that we need to talk about but sadly many women don’t and this is why there are so many women out there suffering in silence with gynaecological health issues – from endometriosis and PCOS to fibroids and possible gynae cancers.
A quick google search pulled the following answer to “what is heavy menstrual bleeding” - "The usual length of menstrual bleeding is four to six days. The usual amount of blood loss per period is 10 to 35 ml. Each soaked normal-sized tampon or pad holds a teaspoon (5ml) of blood. That means it is normal to soak one to seven normal-sized pads or tampons (“sanitary products”) in a whole period."
Well, seeing as my periods used to last anything up to 6 months and I would get through around 6 pads an hour, I guess my periods were anything but normal.
Obviously not every woman will be bleeding as excessively as I was, but whilst there is still so much taboo existing around periods and menstruation then women will continue to suffer.
I suffered from heavy and prolonged periods right from the very start of my periods. My Mom took me to see a doctor when I was around 15. He wasn’t the normal family GP but an elderly male doctor who told her that once I got married and had children then the heavy bleeding would stop. Well guess what, it didn’t.
When I married at 20 and moved to a new area I went to see my new GP about going on the pill. He told me I was “too heavy” (his words) and I should refrain from having sex until I had lost some weight and then he would consider putting me on the pill.
Is there any wonder that I never went back to see a GP for the next 25 years. Why would I want to face more humiliation? The issue of excessive bleeding nearly killed me in the end because I was admitted to hospital as an emergency due to severe anaemia just before my 46th Birthday. They told me if I hadn’t been admitted I would have died within 24 hours due to lack of oxygen to my brain.
It may seem easy for me to tell women not to ignore heavy bleeding as it may be a sign of womb cancer, but if you have been suffering with it for years like me, then it becomes your normal so you’ve probably spent years outing up with it, just like I did.
I believe that until we can smash the taboos around talking about periods openly then women will continue to suffer in silence and many young girls just starting their periods will think their heavy bleeding is normal and they have to put up with it for the next 40+ years.
Please, if your periods are heavy, so heavy that you need to change your tampon or pad 4 or 5 times a day and periods last longer than 6-7 days then go see your GP. You do not have to put up with this. If your periods suddenly change and become significantly heavy or more prolonged that your normal then again, go see your GP. There are several things that could be causing it; fibroids, polyps, PCOS, adenomyosis and yes, possibly womb cancer. The sooner you see your GP the better, please don’t ignore it and hope it will go away. I tried that and it didn’t work. I don’t want any other women to go through what I did.