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Causes Of Heavy Periods And Natural Ways To Make Them Stop

Heavy periods occur when a woman loses more than 80ml of blood during one cycle. These tips can help balance your body so you don't have to be in so much discomfort each month.

Heavy period flow min scaled

Heavy periods can make your monthly cycle much harder than it has to be. They tend to be accompanied by abdominal pain and cramps.

Additionally, a heavy period flow can put you at an increased risk of certain medical conditions, such as anemia.

In this guide, we’ll address common causes of heavy periods and natural ways you can manage them at home.

What Are Heavy Periods?

A young woman suffering from period cramps and stomach pain
Heavy periods are often accompanied by stomach cramps or lower back pain.

Heavy period flow is when a woman loses more than 80ml of blood in one menstrual cycle. About 27% to 54% of women suffer from this condition, formerly known as menorrhagia.

It’s considered normal if you lose about 35ml to 40ml of blood over an entire period. But some women can lose as much as 80 mL of blood.

Another symptom that accompanies heavy bleeding is cramping. Menorrhagia can lead to anemia, a deficiency of healthy red blood cells that bring sufficient oxygen to your tissues.

What Causes Heavy Periods?

A woman’s period is one of those intricate processes that are regulated by hormones, primarily estrogen and progesterone. Even heavy stress can affect your period.

Imbalances can also be associated with transitional periods. Other possible causes related to or in addition to hormone imbalance include: 

  • Anovulation (absence of ovulation) 
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)  
  • Thyroid disorders 
  • Benign growths like polyps, fibroids, and adenomyosis (uterine tissue growth into the wall)  
  • Malignant growths, such as those that cause uterine cancer or cervical cancer 
  • Uterine infection, including STIs (sexually transmitted infections) 
  • Hormone replacement therapy or birth control
  • Blood thinners and aspirin 
  • Breast cancer drug Tamoxifen 
  • Novel oral anticoagulants or NOACs 

How To Manage Heavy Periods

Research shows that menstrual disorders affect up to 25% of women of child-bearing age.

Painful periods and menorrhagia link to poor academic performance for teenage girls and work loss for adult women. So, what can you do about it? 

Manage the pain

Fortunately, many women are aware that they don’t have to suffer through the pain. Many of the women we spoke to shared that one thing they can do when the pain becomes unbearable is to take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, which also acts as an anti-inflammatory medication.

Replace lost iron 

To address or prevent anemia, there are many iron supplement options out there that you can buy at the pharmacy.

If you don’t like to take supplements, then consume foods rich in iron like dark green leafy vegetables, meat, seafood, beans, nuts, and seeds. 

Hormone replacement therapy  

Certain artificial hormonal interventions such as birth control and hormone therapy may help with menorrhagia – for some women.

Other women may find that these therapies do not work well with their bodies. Talk to your doctor about your options.

Medical procedures  

Some women consider a myomectomy (fibroid removal) or a uterine artery embolization (UAE) to deal with growths.

Other more invasive procedures are like endometrial ablation. That’s when part of your lining is purposely destroyed, usually followed by sterilization, or a hysterectomy, where your uterus is removed permanently.

These would be the last resort, and we caution that you consult with your OBGYN at length before making such a decision. 

Reduce Heavy Periods With TCM

An image of red Chinese dates and tea
Tea made with red Chinese dates can help nourish blood to reduce heavy period flows.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also has a lot to offer in this realm, as some of the conventional treatments in Western medicine may not work well for some menorrhagia sufferers.

We spoke to Physician Ho Li Ying, a TCM practitioner and expert who specializes in gynecology. 

Qi Deficiency  

“In TCM, qi (vital life force) controls blood flow. Heavy menstrual bleeding can occur when there is a Qi Deficiency in a woman’s body. That could be caused by burnout, frequent sexual intercourse, or excessive consumption of cold foods. You would always be feeling exhausted, dizzy, and cold, with a period that is thin in consistency and appears pinkish or light red. This condition is also specific to a Kidney Qi and Spleen Qi Deficiency.”  

TCM Physician Ho Li Ying

To help nourish the blood and improve circulation, you can try:

You can also strengthen Kidney qi and expel cold with the Waist Tonic, which contains herbs like Du Zhong and Cordyceps Sinensis.

Blood Stasis  

Excessive coldness in the body as well as feeling down emotionally due to depression or anxiety can cause poor qi and blood circulation. That will cause Blood Stasis to arise.

Symptoms include insomnia, lower back pain, cold extremities, period cramps, and period blood that has a lot of clots and is dark red in color.

Bak Foong pills, a well-known and effective TCM formulation, is a comprehensive formulation that I recommend to my patients. I also recommend Ba Zhen soup as a daily meal. Avoid cold foods and environments, and soak your legs in warm water before bedtime. Also, practice general self-care to help put yourself in a good mood.”

TCM Physician Ho Yi Ling

Blood-Heat 

Blood-Heat is another possible syndrome that is causing your heavy period flow. It is normally caused by excessive consumption of spicy and hot foods, living in hot weather, or staying up late.

“You may also exhibit other symptoms such as always feeling thirsty, dry mouth, avoiding heat, fidgety, insomnia, with period blood that appears sticky and dark or bright red in color.”

TCM Physician Ho Yi Ling

Your TCM physician may suggest some proprietary combination of Sheng Di Huang (Rehmannia glutinosa), Xuan Shen (Scrophularia ningpoensis), and other herbs that nourish yin and blood while expelling Heat in the body and strengthening the kidney and the liver.

Use TCM To Help With Heavy Periods

These TCM treatments that replenish the blood will not worsen the heavy period flow. The idea here is not just decreasing or increasing flow, but about restoring a harmonious balance in the qi and blood so that the flow goes back to a normal healthy level. 

Many women go about their lives thinking that heavy period flow and other menstrual disorders are something they must endure.

It is important to investigate what may be causing your menorrhagia and address the condition and underlying causes together with your healthcare provider. A normal period that doesn’t leave you exhausted and in pain is possible. 

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