Why is my period so heavy?

It’s a question I’ve answered a LOT in my 10 years as a Naturopath.

Keep reading to find out some causes & investigations that might be necessary.

What causes heavy periods?

There’s often a variety of factors, but never just one. The following are what I see the most.

  1. Inflammation caused by environmental toxins (think plastics and pesticides to name a couple)
  2. Inflammation due to food intolerances
  3. Hormonal imbalance (usually high oestrogen) due to stress, poor liver clearance of circulating hormones, use of the pill and other artificial contraceptives.
  4. Anaemia (low iron stores and low circulating iron). It sounds counter-intuitive, however the more anaemic you are, often, the heavier your period. Bit of a chicken or the egg story here. Is it heavy periods causing anaemia, or is it the body not being able to “hold” the blood. Chinese medicine theory covers blood deficiency really well.
  5. Endometriosis – an auto immune hormone imbalance where endometrial tissue (from your uterus) grows in other parts of the body such as outside the uterus or on ovaries. Sometimes it has been found in lung and even in nasal cavities! This causes the woman to have a nose bleed each time she has a period too. Crazy huh?!
  6. Fibroids – growths (benign usually) within the uterus which can cause excessive blood loss in some women.
  7. Menopause and peri-menopause hormonal changes can cause large loss of blood at random times of the month.
  8. Thyroid issues; especially hypo (under active) thyroid. This sends of a cascade of hormone imbalance which may lead to excess blood loss at the time of your period.
  9. Adrenal issues; especially adrenal fatigue. Some women can have extreme hormone fluctuations when their adrenal hormones are out of balance. Stress is a major contributor here.

Investigations:

  1. Go to your GP and ask for your female hormones to be checked via blood test. Make sure it has been completed on day 21 of your cycle. What does that mean? Day 1 is the first day of your period, and so skip forward 3 weeks from there, and take the blood test then. This gives a good indicator of both progesterone and oestrogen in your body.
  2. In the same test, ask to rule out (or in) thyroid or adrenal imbalances. Have morning cortisol and Thyroid hormones checked.
  3. Iron studies. If you’re chronically anaemic, this could be the underlying factor to why you have heavy periods. best to find out your levels. Aim for serum level of 15 and ferritin (stored iron) to be 80-100.
  4. If GP suspects fibroids or endometriosis, it is best to see a gynaecologist to ensure you aren’t needing surgery.
  5. Regardless of whether your hormones are ‘in range’ or not, it is best to get in contact with a Naturopath (like me) who is experienced with hormone imbalance and can support your health for you as a person, rather than the disease you may come in with.

Amy x