We talked to Dr. Heather Bartos, OBGYN and founder of The Me Spot podcast to clarify what could be causing heavier periods. Because, just like all other varying factors that go along with being a woman, there isn’t just one black and white answer. First of all, what exactly is considered “heavy” when it comes to period bleeding?
“Science actually measured this, and the answer is 80 mL, or 5.5 tablespoons— yes, that was someone’s job to determine this,” Dr. Bartos tells us.
Five and a half tablespoons may not seem like a lot of liquid, until it’s our responsibility to think one step ahead of gravity and stop it from making a mess at all costs. This amount could mean having to change your tampon 5-6 times per day (every three hours or less), waking up to stained pajamas or sheets, or expelling large clots.
Heavier periods, Dr. Bartos tells us, are known as “menorrhagia” in the medical world. She explains that when menorrhagia is on the worst end of the spectrum, you’re changing a tampon or pad close to hourly for the first few days of your period—“Think Carrie at the prom.” While we don’t love this image, Dr. Bartos, it does paint a gruesome picture. Here are some things that could possibly be contributing to your hefty flow:
Sometimes heavier periods come with heavier cramping, which could require more downtime before, during, and just after the bleed. Consider dialing down physical activity and only doing restorative workouts, and increase your rest. Heavier periods could also mean a greater risk of iron deficiency, so attuning your diet to make up for lost nutrients is crucial.