What can I do about heavy periods?
This is a common question from girls and young women with bleeding disorders who want to take part in sport or exercise programs. If you have heavy bleeding and pain from your periods, it can interfere with your daily life and mean you are less physically active. Heavy periods can lead to anaemia (low levels of iron in the blood), which can make you feel faint and tired and short of breath.
If your periods are causing problems for you, it is important for you to discuss this with your HTC nurse and doctor to see how this can best be managed. They might refer you to a gynaecologist (women’s health specialist) and develop a treatment plan for you so that your periods can be more manageable. You might also need treatment for anaemia. It is worth persevering to find a treatment plan that works for you – getting your periods under control can make a difference to your life generally, as well as making it easier to do sport, dance or go to the gym.
Heat packs and rest or distraction can sometimes help with pain during your period. Exercise can also reduce pain for some young women. Talk to your specialist doctor (haematologist) before taking medications for pain. Paracetamol (e.g., Panadol™) is usually recommended to start with but other medications such as ibuprofen (e.g., Nurofen™) or aspirin can make a bleeding tendency worse.
What to wear?
On a practical note, it’s worth investigating the types of sanitary protection around and see what works best for you. Sanitary products include pads, tampons, menstrual cups and period underwear, swimwear and activewear, which come in different sizes and thicknesses. Menstrual cups and period wear can be washed and used again. These products are all widely available online and most are in large shops like supermarkets and pharmacies, including menstrual cups and period underwear.
If you have heavy periods, you may find that you use a couple of different products at once, for example, inserting a tampon or a menstrual cup and having a pad or period underwear as an extra barrier against leakage. Make sure you follow the instructions about changing products regularly and washing reusable items – the last thing you want is to get an infection out of having a period!
Get to know how exercise impacts on bleeding with your period. You may find it works best if you change your tampon or pad immediately before you exercise and at half-time or breaks. Talk to other girls and young women and see what tips they have – you might be surprised to find how many others have problems with heavy periods, even if they don’t a bleeding disorder!
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Date last reviewed: 17 May 2021