Heavy menstrual bleeding, or heavy periods, is when your period lasts more than seven days or has a heavy flow. This means changing your pad or tampon after less than 2 hours or are passing blood clots larger than a quarter.
More than 10 million women in the United States experience heavy period bleeding.
Heavy periods need to be addressed because they can cause other health concerns such as anemia.
Call your doctor if you are experiencing dizziness, weakness, or prolonged heavy bleeding. You may need medical care.
Having heavy periods is fairly common, affecting more than 10 million women in the United States every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But heavy periods need to be addressed because they can cause a blood condition known as anemia. Anemia can cause you to feel weak, tired, or short of breath. While there are medications and medical procedures that can treat heavy periods, you might be considering trying home remedies first.
What can cause heavy periods?
There are several reasons why you might have heavy periods. These include:
- Fibroids or polyps.
- Uterine or cervical cancer.
- Hormone disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Being on certain types of birth control such as an intrauterine device (IUD).
- Problems in pregnancy including miscarriage.
- Bleeding disorders such as von Willebrand disease (VWD).
- Pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Liver, kidney, or thyroid conditions.
- Use of certain medications such as aspirin.
What home remedies can stop heavy periods?
There are a few things you can try at home to slow down your heavy periods.
Get more iron
Iron is mostly found in hemoglobin, a molecule found in your red blood cells that helps carry oxygen. Being deficient in iron, such as in the case of heavy period bleeding, can lead to anemia. There are certain foods that contain iron you can increase in your diet. These include:
- Poultry such as chicken and turkey.
In some cases, getting enough iron in your diet isn’t enough. In those cases, you might consider taking an iron supplement.
Get enough vitamin C
Vitamin C can help your body to absorb iron. Taking a vitamin C supplement or eating foods that contain vitamin C can help maintain iron levels. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits.
- Bell peppers.
- Brussels sprouts.
- White potatoes.
While drinking water may not necessarily stop your heavy bleeding, it can help prevent dehydration. When you experience blood loss, you can become dehydrated.
Try to drink 4 to 6 extra cups of water a day in order to help prevent yourself from getting dehydrated. You can also drink an electrolyte solution such as Gatorade that contains sodium and other electrolytes your body needs when you’re drinking extra water.
Before you take any herbal supplement, talk with your healthcare provider. Some herbs interact with prescription medications and some are not safe to take during pregnancy or if you have certain health conditions.
Some herbal remedies have shown some promise in helping with heavy periods.
- Ginger: One 2014 study showed ginger capsules can help decrease blood loss. Other research has found it can also help ease menstrual pain, which can accompany heavy bleeding.
- Pomegranate flower capsules: A 2015 study in the Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran showed pomegranate flower capsules worked just as well as tranexamic acid, a medication used to control bleeding.
- Myrtle fruit syrup: According to research, myrtle fruit syrup was shown to decrease blood loss compared to taking a placebo.
It’s important to note that more research is needed on the use of herbal supplements to decrease heavy period bleeding.
When should I call my doctor?
According to the Mayo Clinic, notify your healthcare provider if you are experiencing:
- Bleeding that saturates a pad or tampon every hour for over two hours.
- Bleeding that happens between periods.
- Vaginal bleeding that happens after you are already in menopause.
- Feeling very tired or short of breath. You may need to be tested for anemia.
- Faintness or dizziness.
- Severe pain.
Work with your provider to treat your symptoms of heavy bleeding. It may take some time to find a plan that works for you.
There are some ways you might be able to control your bleeding at home, such as making sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, iron, and hydration. Certain herbal supplements might help with heavy periods, but in some cases, you will need to notify your healthcare provider.