Normal vs heavy periods: what’s the difference?
If you experience heavy bleeding, you might think that’s just a typical part of having a period, but what you might not realize is that you could be experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB).
In order to understand exactly what HMB is, it helps to understand what a “normal” period is. Getting to know your cycle will help when it comes time to talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment options.
But what is a normal period, anyway?
Everyone is different, which can make it hard to know what “normal” even means. But there is an average, or range of typical characteristics. For example, a “normal” period (or menstrual flow) may:
Occur every 28 days on average
Last for about 4 to 5 days
Result in a total blood loss of about ⅐ cup
So what is heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB)?
According to its definition, women with HMB may lose ⅓ cup of blood or more during their period. Symptoms of HMB may include:
Needing to double up on pads to control your menstrual flow
Needing to change pads or tampons during the night
Having menstrual periods lasting more than 7 days
Having a menstrual flow with blood clots the size of a quarter or larger
Having a menstrual flow that soaks through one or more pads or tampons every hour for several hours in a row
as one example, With heavy periods, you might soak through 1 or more pads or tampons every hour for several hours in a row.
For illustrative purposes only.
Why do many women remain silent about their heavy periods?
One in 3 American women who have periods experience HMB, but it is known to be extensively underreported. Why is that? Because socially, periods are seen as taboo and there is a culture of silence surrounding them. Not only that, but for years women are told that their period symptoms—like heavy bleeding—are normal. This leaves many women putting up with HMB symptoms for years before realizing they can ask their doctor for help in finding a treatment option that might be right for them.
INDICATIONS FOR MIRENA
Mirena® (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) is a hormone-releasing IUD that prevents pregnancy for up to 8 years. Mirena also treats heavy periods for up to 5 years in women who choose intrauterine contraception.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
- If you have a pelvic or genital infection, get infections easily, or have certain cancers, don't use Mirena. Less than 1% of users get a serious pelvic infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
- If you have persistent pelvic or stomach pain, or excessive bleeding after placement, tell your healthcare provider (HCP). If Mirena comes out, call your HCP and avoid intercourse or use non-hormonal back-up birth control (such as condoms or spermicide). Mirena may go into or through the wall of the uterus and cause other problems.
Pregnancy while using Mirena is uncommon but can be life threatening and may result in loss of pregnancy or fertility.
- Ovarian cysts may occur but usually disappear.
- Bleeding and spotting may increase in the first 3 to 6 months and remain irregular. Periods over time usually become shorter, lighter, or may stop.
Mirena does not protect against HIV or STIs.
Only you and your HCP can decide if Mirena is right for you. Mirena is available by prescription only.