'Heavy periods were ruining my life. Then at 31, I got a diagnosis that changed everything.'

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Melanie was 25 when she started having heavy periods that would last for about seven days. 

“They slowly progressively got heavier, and then started getting longer and longer,” she told Mamamia. “But I didn’t ever see a doctor about it.” 

For five years, the South Australian woman tried to carry on with her life, while her menstrual cycle began to take over it. 

“When I got to about 30, I started feeling really fatigued and I was basically leaking all the time,” she explained. “I was a journalist, and I’d be sitting in court and having to keep going back and forth to the toilet, while getting dirty looks from the magistrate, because I just couldn’t get through 45 minutes without having to change the two super tampons that I was using.” 

By this point, Melanie was having two to three-week periods of "constant bleeding". 

“That’s when my doctor was like, ‘ok we better do some tests’,” she said.  

‘I didn’t know what menorrhagia meant.’

Results showed Melanie was massively iron deficient, and her haemoglobin was very low. It was then that the 30-year-old came across the term menorrhagia for the first time. 

“At the time, I saw it written on a form when I went to have an ultrasound but I had to Google it as I didn’t know what it meant,” she said. “It wasn’t explained to me.”

Heavy periods are common and affect one in four women, with the condition now clinically referred to as heavy menstrual bleeding. Women who experience it may need to change their tampons and sanitary pads every hour, pass blood clots bigger than a 50 cent coin, and bleed for more than a week. 


This can have serious adverse consequences on their quality of life.

Devastatingly, for many people with heavy periods, they may never know why they suffer. But causes can include a problem with the uterine lining, lumps in the uterus's muscle called fibroids, medicines such as blood thinners, and medical conditions. 

At 31, Melanie was officially diagnosed with heavy menstrual bleeding.

‘The bleeding would just be flooding.’

Over the next three years, while Melanie sought medical treatment for her condition, her periods continued to rage havoc on her life. 

“I remember being on a sailing trip through Turkey and the first day I was on the deck and then the next two days I basically had to stay in the cabin because I didn't know if the bleeding would just be flooding,” she explained. “Like it would start from the middle of nowhere, and just be continuously flowing.” 

By this point, Melanie was using two tampons, a maternity pad and period knickers all at the same time in an attempt to cope with her menstrual cycle. “It was insane,” she said. But she was still leaking through. 

“It happened a few times where I had mishaps. I had them in front of my boss. I had them on a frickin’ tour walking up a mountain. It happened during work hours where I had to go home. 

“There were definitely accidents over those three years that I could not control. Like no matter what I was wearing, it would fully leak through.” 

And then there was the pain. 


“I would sometimes be in debilitating pain,” Melanie explained. “But the main issue was that I was so fatigued.” 

The biggest misconception.

Finally, after “six solid years” of Melanie’s menstrual cycle ruling her life – with almost month long periods, continuous clots and “no cycle whatsoever” – by December 2020, treatment had worked.

“Since then, I've gone back to basically normal periods,” the now 39-year-old said. “Like I know when it’s coming, it’s every four weeks, it lasts for about five days, I don’t have any clots and it’s just completely normal. 

“It’s been absolutely life-changing, and I’ve even started playing sport again.”

Before that point, Melanie had resigned herself to a life of heavy menstrual bleeding. 

“I was convinced that I was just somebody who had two-week periods, and now I'm like, oh my god, this is what normal life is like,” she said. “I haven't had this since I was in my 20s.”

And that is where Melanie says the biggest misunderstanding lies. 

“I would say that the common misconception is that heavy, long and painful periods are normal, and that’s not true,” she argued. “I thought mine was ‘normal’ until I went through treatment and I now know what’s really normal, and it’s not heavy and painful!”

While it took the South Australian woman a long time to get to that point, she explained that it was by talking with her doctor and friends that she realised something was wrong. 

“My friends, who witnessed a lot of my awful times, would be like, ‘Oh, my period is only five days’, and I would be like ‘What!’,” she said.


No one I knew was having periods as long as I was, and I think that's why it's so important for people to talk about it so that they can know what to look for.”

It’s through these types of conversations with our friends, families and healthcare professionals, that we can work together to break down taboos on talking about periods, and understanding that women aren’t alone. 

And most importantly, that there is treatment available. 

“Basically from 30 to 37, I had out-of-control heavy bleeding, like it was dictating my life,” Melanie said. “And that's the thing, if I hadn't spoken up I could have just been bleeding all this time.

“I now know that’s not normal.”

If you experience heavy periods, visit your GP and find more information about treatment options from Live Comfortably.

Individual patients’ symptoms of menorrhagia may vary. This article contains statements and descriptions unique to an individual and may not be representative of every patient's experience of menorrhagia.

This information is general in nature and does not replace the advice of a healthcare professional. As with any medical condition, always seek health advice from a qualified healthcare professional.

The source of this article is known to Mamamia, but her identity has been omitted for privacy reasons.

Feature Image: Getty. 

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If you or a loved one are living with heavy periods, and would like to "live comfortably", visit your GP without delay. You can find more information on treatment options at