While menstruation can be quick and painless for some, it can be agonising for many others. As every woman’s period is different, we need to ask the question: is what I’m experiencing normal?
1. What does it mean if my period lasts longer than seven days? I’m 17 years old.
Honey, that is not normal. I suspect you have ‘menorrhagia’ or heavy periods. This means you are probably losing way too much iron so you might be feeling exhausted, cold, and have headaches. The most common reason at your age for heavy periods is not ovulating and the most common culprit is polycystic ovaries or if you have always had these long periods you could have a bleeding problem. Either way you need to see a doctor to treat the iron loss and get a diagnosis.
2. My periods are so heavy I am bleeding through my tampon and pad and need to change them every one to two hours. What should I do? I’m 42 with two young kids and this is making my life hell.
Oh, that sounds TERRIBLE. You need to head straight to the doctor. This bleeding is way too heavy. For a start we need to check your iron levels. Next, you need a diagnosis. Your doctor can order some tests to check out whether you’re ovulating, or whether you have a benign problem like a polyp or fibroid. In the majority of cases we don’t find a problem.
Regardless you can’t go on like this. Treatment doesn’t necessarily mean a hysterectomy or having hormone treatment. There are simple solutions like an IUD or having a 5 minute procedure called endometrial ablation that can fix the problem.
A regular period should last between 5-7 days. No longer. Image: iStock.
3. I have had heavy periods for over a year now – I’m 28 years old. I feel weak at times and I’m very low in iron. I have seen my doctor several times and they always give me tablets to increase my iron intake and have put me on birth control for three months but nothing changed. What else can I do?
Not good enough! You need a diagnosis. At 28 this is really really unusual. I think you need to be checked for a pelvic infection. Alternately you might have stopped ovulating although we'd need to find out why. Thyroid problems and the late development of polycystic ovaries can do this.