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Dealing with Heavy Periods: An Interview with Dr. Diana Ramos

If you dread that time of the month, you are not alone. Many women have heavy periods, which can interfere in their everyday lives.

About 10 million women in the United States have menorrhagia, or heavy periods, according to the National Women’s Health Resource Center.

But despite the effects that a heavy period can have, very few women talk to their health care providers, and as a result, do not find out about treatments that can improve their quality of life.

Dr. Diana Ramos, an assistant clinical professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Keck USC School of Medicine, California, talked to EmpowHER about heavy periods: how they affect women, and how women can talk to their health care providers.

EmpowHER:

What is a normal period? What are signs that a woman has unusually heavy periods?

Dr. Ramos:

It is difficult to define what a “normal” period is for most women, but the following are signs and symptoms of heavy monthly periods:

  • Soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours
  • Needing to use double sanitary protection
  • Needing to wake up to change sanitary protection during the night
  • Passing large blood clots with menstrual flow

EmpowHER:

An online survey conducted on behalf of Bayer asked women about their periods. What was found?

Dr. Ramos:

The omnibus survey of 1,200 women showed that more than 1 out of 10 women cope with heavy monthly periods. The survey also revealed that women go to extreme lengths to cope with the condition, such as doubling up on pads or tampons and replacing them every hour.

To deal with heavy monthly periods, women also report restricting daily activities, such as not wearing a bathing suit (50 percent), missing days of work (20 percent), and even missing a date (16 percent).

Additionally, other interesting survey facts revealed:

  • Two in three (65 percent) heavy menstrual sufferers say when they have their period, they feel like staying in bed all day
  • An overwhelming majority (93 percent) of heavy menstrual sufferers report enjoying life more when they are not having their period
  • More than half (51 percent) of heavy menstrual sufferers do not feel like others understand what it is like to have a heavy period
  • Three out of four (75 percent) heavy menstrual sufferers say they feel less confident when they have their period

EmpowHER:

Why do so few women who suffer from heavy periods talk to their health care providers?

Dr. Ramos:

Half of the women that were surveyed admit they have not discussed their heavy periods with their doctor, and 32 percent say it is embarrassing to discuss the details with their doctor.

While the majority of heavy menstrual sufferers consider HMB (heavy menstrual bleeding) to be a real medical condition (81 percent) and believe there are treatment options (72 percent), there is room for education as many admit that they don’t have enough information to know if they suffer from HMB (45 percent).

EmpowHER:

What treatments are available to women who have heavy periods?

Dr. Ramos:

The symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding can be alleviated by several different over-the-counter and prescription treatments. In some cases, treatment can reduce the amount of bleeding.

It is best for a woman to speak with her health care provider to discuss the specifics of her condition and what treatment is right for her.

EmpowHER:

What tips can you give to women about bringing up this issue with their health care providers?

Dr. Ramos:

It is important to use the time you have with your health care provider wisely and discuss all of your symptoms with them. There are options for women and they do not have to suffer in silence.

For information about how to manage heavy periods, and tips on how to start the discussion with your doctor or health care provider, visit www.myheavymonthlyperiods.com/

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