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DocSpot: Heavy periods

Dear Dr Margaret
I have had heavy almost non-stop periods for about 6 months. It is really difficult at school. What is wrong with me?

It’s no joke if your periods are taking over your life. You genuinely have heavy periods if you have to change your sanitary towel or tampons every couple of hours, or if you are passing large shiny red lumps of blood that look like raw liver, or if blood seems to pour out in a flood. Annoyingly, heavy periods are quite common in young teenagers, but the problem usually goes away in a year or two when your hormone system settles down. On average, periods last about almost a week when you are a young teenager, but in many girls they last longer.
It does sound as if your periods are really troublesome. There are three reasons why you should see your doctor. Firstly, you could be losing so much blood that you become anaemic, especially if your diet is low in iron (for example, if you are vegetarian). Your doctor can do a blood test to check, and could give you iron tablets if you need them. Secondly, the blood test could show if there is a reason for the heavy periods. Thirdly, your doctor can prescribe medications to make your periods lighter, such as tranexamic acid or mefenamic acid. These medications are taken as soon as you think your period is about to start, and continued for a few days. The contraceptive pill will also usually deal with the problem, but it is probably not a good idea to take it until you have stopped growing, because the hormones in the pill can interfere with growth. However, it would be alright to take a hormone medication for a few weeks if you are sitting exams (when heavy periods can be a particular problem).

Last updated; Sunday, August 30th 2020

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