An Ob-Gyn Explains How to Tell If Your Heavy Periods Are Putting You at Risk For Anemia

Struggling through a heavy period, much less routine heavy periods, absolutely sucks. They're messy, uncomfortable, and can even have permanent consequences - including anemia, a condition in which there aren't enough healthy red blood cells to keep the body adequately oxygenated. Similar to your period flow, the anemia can be mild, moderate, or severe. It can also occur after a very heavy period or over time with persistent heavy cycles that slowly drain blood volume and iron from your body. POPSUGAR spoke to Dr. Chimsom T. Oleka, a state-certified child and adolescent gynecologist in Texas, to better understand the link between heavy periods and anemia.
Why is my period so heavy?
The frequency of your periods can play a big role in the severity of your flow, explained Dr. Oleka. If your cycle lasts longer than 35 days without hormones or birth control, the lining of the uterus may not loosen adequately. This can mean the lining of the uterus is becoming unusually thick, resulting in longer or heavier flow. "People with heavy, irregular periods may notice their lining breaking off into pieces, lengthening the menstrual period with different intensity flow," said Dr. Oleka opposite POPSUGAR. Others may experience super-heavy flow as the lining of the uterus loosens all at once.
More regular periods - that is, every 21 to 35 days - usually last a week or less. A strong flow in these circumstances may mean that the uterus is not shedding its old lining and is efficiently producing a new one, or that the bleeding does not stop at the level of the uterine lining. However, there are a number of factors that can affect your flow. While a little heavy bleeding here and there is okay, continued heavy flow is not okay. If you are concerned, speak to your doctor.
How do I know if my period is causing me to become anemic?
The volume of blood lost during menstruation is more telling than the frequency or length of your periods, explained Dr. Oleka. You may be at risk of anemia if you have to change your pad or tampon more than every two hours. lose more than 80 ml of blood in your menstrual cup or disc; frequently stain your clothes or bedding; You need to use two layers of protection during your period. or pass blood clots that are more than an inch in diameter. Heavy periods that are accompanied by fatigue, difficulty concentrating, increased heart rate, decreased appetite, shortness of breath, or cravings for ice, dirt, or starch can indicate iron deficiency anemia.
If you have reason to believe that you might be anemic, it is important to speak to your gynecologist. "Iron deficiency anemia is not a self-diagnosis," warned Dr. Oleka. Self-treatment can lead to life-threatening problems or complications such as liver or heart damage. To prepare for your appointment, she recommends making a note of how many days you typically bleed during your period, how absorbent the menstrual products you use are and how often you need to change them on your heaviest days, and any recent spills.

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