Sometimes it’s hard to go with the flow. Period.

When your periods are extremely heavy and you are experiencing “flooding” or passing big clots, you have what doctors call menorrhagia. According to the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR), a flow of more than 80 mL per menstrual period is considered heavier than normal.

There are a variety of reasons why you may have heavy bleeding, but some of the most common include:

  • Hormone imbalance
  • Ovarian dysfunction
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Uterine polyps
  • Using an intrauterine device
  • Cancer
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Certain medications

So how can you deal with heavy flow? Here are some practical tips from CeMCOR:

1. Keep track.

Monitor your period for one or two cycles. Check out the Menstrual Cycle Diary or Daily Perimenopause Diary for helpful tips, charts and informative videos. If you do in fact have heavy flow, visit your doctor for a pelvic exam. (Note: If your flow is so heavy you start to feel faint or dizzy when you stand up, make an emergency doctor’s appointment.)

2. Take ibuprofen.

When you’re experiencing heavy bleeding, ibuprofen can decrease flow by 25 to 30 per cent and can also help relieve cramping.

3. Treat blood loss with extra fluid and salt.

If you feel dizzy or your heart pounds when you get up from lying down, the amount of blood volume in your system is too low. Drinking more and increasing the salty fluids you drink, such as tomato or other vegetable juices or salty broths, can help.

4. Take iron to replace what is lost with heavy bleeding.

If your doctor’s appointment is delayed or you realize that you have had heavy flow for a number of cycles, start taking one over-the-counter tablet of iron (like 35 mg of ferrous gluconate) a day. You can also increase the iron you get from foods—red meat, liver, egg yolks, deep green vegetables and dried fruits like raisins and prunes are good sources of iron. Your doctor will likely measure your blood count and do a test called “ferritin” which tells the amount of iron you have stored in your bone marrow. If your ferritin is low, or if you ever have had a low blood count, continue iron daily for one full year to bring iron stores to normal.


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Disclaimer: The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decision.

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