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Heavy periods

Heavy periods are common, but they can have a big effect on a woman's everyday life.

They do not always have an underlying cause, but they can result from problems such as fibroids or endometriosis, so it's important to get your symptoms checked out.

See a GP if:

Various treatments are available for heavy periods, including:

It's difficult to define exactly what a heavy period is because it varies from woman to woman. Heavy for 1 woman may be normal for another.

Most women will lose less than 16 teaspoons of blood (80ml) during their period, with the average being around 6 to 8 teaspoons.

Heavy menstrual bleeding is defined as losing 80ml or more in each period, having periods that last longer than 7 days, or both.

But it's not usually necessary to measure blood loss. Most women have a good idea of how much bleeding is normal for them during their period and can tell when this changes.

A good indication that your periods are heavy is if you:

In about half of women with heavy menstrual bleeding, no underlying reason is found.

But there are several conditions and some treatments that can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.

Some conditions of the womb and ovaries can cause heavy bleeding, including:

Other conditions that can cause heavy periods include:

Medical treatments that can sometimes cause heavy periods include:

A GP will start by asking you about your heavy bleeding, any changes to your periods and any other symptoms you have, like bleeding between your periods or period pain.

All women who have heavy periods should be offered a blood test to check for iron deficiency anaemia.

The GP may also suggest a physical examination or refer you for further tests to try to find out if there's an underlying cause for your heavy periods.

Further tests may include:

Find out more about diagnosing heavy periods

There are various treatment options for heavy periods. These depend on what's causing your heavy periods, your general health and your preferences.

They include: