Heavy Periods: How much is too much?

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Heavy periods and accompanying symptoms including intense bloating, fatigue, mood swings, headaches, and back pain are generally caused by hormonal imbalance.

By staff writer, Marissa Cohen 

The normal flow of your life - work, social obligations, and everyday movement - should not be interrupted once a month due to a heavy menstrual flow. Experiencing heavy periods has come to be considered the “norm” for many women. Yet, what’s common isn’t always normal. This is especially the case when it comes to heavy menstrual bleeding. Essentially, excessive bleeding is a sign of a hormonal imbalance. Becoming aware of the cause and course of action to correct heavy periods is the key to feeling your best all month long.

How Much is “Too Much” when it comes to Menstruation

While it is difficult to define how much is “too much,” there are some general guidelines for what is considered a healthy period.

According to the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, the average woman experiences 30ml or 2 tablespoons of blood over the course of a four to six-day period. This equates to approximately six soaked tampons or pads. When the amount of blood lost exceeds 60ml to 80ml, or sixteen soaked pads, it is considered menorrhagia, that is, abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding. Signs of menorrhagia include consecutively soaking through one or more pads or tampons within an hour, waking up during the night to change sanitary protection, bleeding for longer than a week, and symptoms of anemia (iron deficiency caused by the loss of too much blood) like excessive tiredness, fatigue, or shortness of breath.

The Underlying Cause of Menorrhagia

Heavy periods and accompanying symptoms including intense bloating, fatigue, mood swings, headaches, and back pain are generally caused by hormonal imbalance. Specifically, an imbalance of estrogen. During menstruation, the lining of the uterus, the endometrium, sheds. Estrogen is responsible for making the lining thicken so that it is more likely to shed, while progestogen makes it thinner during the other phases of your cycle. As a result, too much estrogen and too little progesterone leads to heavier flows. Furthermore, just before ovulation, your estrogen peaks and then drops right off. Having estrogen dominance makes the fall even more pronounced, leading to heightened PMS side effects

Natural Remedies for Excessive Bleeding

While it can be convenient to pop an Aspirin to alleviate the pain of heavy periods, there are natural ways to address to root cause of menorrhagia. Naturally managing menorrhagia means addressing the root cause of the hormonal imbalance through diet and lifestyle factors.

Nutrition

It is essential to consider diet. Eating inflammatory foods, such as processed foods, refined sugar and carbohydrates, and hydrogenated oils all contribute to estrogen dominance, which amplifies period symptoms. Fortunately, increasing fibre consumption helps facilitate the elimination process to remove excess estrogen. Incorporate cooked brassica vegetables (such as cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli), turmeric, healthy fats, and leafy greens to flush out your liver and ensure that your body is detoxifying estrogen from your system. For more information on following an anti-inflammatory diet, check out this article. 

Those who have been suffering from menorrhagia may become anaemic from excessive blood loss. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your diet contains adequate amounts of iron to replenish your system. Animal foods rich in iron are beef and bison, chicken, salmon, and eggs.

Plant-based sources of iron include pumpkin and sunflower seeds, legumes, tofu, quinoa, sea vegetables, dark leafy greens (especially Swiss Chard), blackstrap molasses and unsulfurized dried fruits like Turkish apricots.

Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex)

Vitex, also known as chaste tree berry, is the star of our Hormone Balancing Elixir. Vitex helps regulate periods by inhibiting prolactin production, indirectly balancing estrogen and progesterone levels. Furthermore, it supports the pituitary gland, otherwise known as the “master gland,” since it controls the body’s vital functions. The pituitary sends chemical signals to the ovaries to control the amount of hormones being produced. This communication is considered the “hormonal feedback loop”. By regulating the pituitary gland, Vitex supports the balance and relative amounts of estrogen and progestogen during menstruation.

Several studies indicate a strong correlation between the use of Vitex and balanced levels of bleeding. One research study on 57 women with severe menstrual bleeding who were treated with vitex agnus drops showed that 40 patients’ symptoms had significantly been improved. Another trial showed that vitex agnus significantly reduced the menstrual bleeding in patients suffering from severe IUD induced excess bleeding. Specifically, in month 4 compared to the pre-intervention phase in the group treated with vitex agnus reduced to 47.61%. For best results, we recommend taking your Hormone Balancing Elixir in the morning, when your pituitary is most receptive.

Balancing hormones is a longer term process, but creating lasting lifestyle changes is the key to achieving lasting results when it comes to heavy menstrual bleeding. Once you’re in the flow of eating a balanced diet and incorporating supportive supplements, your menstrual cycle will no longer interrupt the flow of your life.

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