Period pads, tampons, menstrual cups, period pants and V-Flow indicators on a pink background.

Periods can be a lot to handle, especially when you have a heavy flow and are unsure which products to choose. But it doesn’t have to be so complicated. We’ve got you covered with which period products are best for you and what you can do to manage your heavy flow.

If you experience heavy menstrual bleeding, you might be all too familiar with the feeling of “bloody Niagara Falls” in your pants. It can be overwhelming but trust us; you’re not alone – heavy bleeding (also known as menorrhagia) affects 10 million of us every year. [1] That’s about 1 in every 5 women who have a heavy flow. [2]

Menstrual flow is considered heavy if you lose about five tablespoons (80ml) of blood or more during your period – to put that into perspective, that’s almost double the average. [3] While most of us may not be taking a spoon to the bathroom to measure our period, you can still recognise heavy bleeding if: 

  • your menstrual flow lasts more than 7 days,
  • you have felt blood clots the size of a coin squeeze their way out of your vagina (which could happen several times in a single period),
  • you have to change your menstrual products very often – perhaps you wake up frequently during the night and have to waddle your way to the bathroom to change them,
  • you are used to staining your clothes with period blood simply due to products not working well with your flow – particularly if you get sudden gushes or clots.

It’s totally okay to stay home hugging a hot water bottle when heavy periods hit, but it shouldn’t dictate whether or not you go out with your friends or continue that big work project. And although it might not be fun to go through every cycle, there are ways to help you navigate around heavy menstrual flow so that you can go about your day living fearlessly.

Just remember, if heavy periods make it difficult for you to go on with your day-to-day activities, a doctor’s visit might be worth it.

Preparing for heavy flow periods

Whether you’re a seasoned “heavy menstrual cycler” exploring different tips or trying to get the hang of flow changes after giving birth or while going through menopause, anticipating what’s to come can make you feel less anxious about it. Here are some ideas that may help…

Keeping a period tracker

One of the best ways to plan ahead of your menstrual flow is to know when it will happen. A period tracker will help you count down to the big day so you are not caught by surprise. Keeping a record of your period and how much flow you have can also be helpful when deciding which period protection will work best for you.

Stocking up

That sudden, sharp stab of pain in your belly, change of mood, and damp underwear – few things compare to the dread of realising your period has arrived and you are not ready. There’s a way around this, though! Remember to stock up on your menstrual necessities well in advance (and maybe even grab a heating pad and some dark chocolate while you’re at it!).

They say that being prepared is half the victory, so it might be a good idea to keep spare high absorbency period products handy and maybe even carry an extra pair of underwear with you (just in case). Here’s another tip: why not keep period product stashes around? Whether it’s pads or tampons in a box in the bathroom, a few in your bag and even in your locker at school or work, having your own heavy flow emergency kit could save the day.

How to manage heavy periods: choosing the right period product for you

The good news is that when it comes to period products, there are many ways to help you manage heavy flows. The tricky part is knowing which one is best suited for you. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Which are the most absorbent pads for heavy flow?

As a general rule of thumb, the absorbency level on period pad packs indicates if they match the heaviness of your flow. Most of them include symbols that convey how much menstrual blood they can hold, from light flows to super heavy ones. For example, in Bodyform period products, look for the V-Flow indicator on the front of the package (a V with red lines inside). The higher the level of red in the V, the more absorbent the product is. So for your heaviest days, pick the ones with the V filled with red towards the top for extra protection, like our Bodyform V-Protection Ultra Long+ Towels with Wings.

We all know that getting a good night’s sleep can make a huge difference to our mood, especially during our period. But this isn’t easy if you’re worried about your heavy flow or have to get out of bed multiple times to change your towel. One way to prevent bleeding through your pyjamas is to wear period pads specially designed for night-time – with or without wings, whatever feels most comfortable for you. Night-time pads with high absorbency like our Bodyform Goodnight Ultra+ Large Sanitary Pads with Wings give you maximum protection for up to 10 hours throughout the night, no matter what position you sleep in.

Can tampons take on heavy periods?

Your flow probably changes every day, and your tampon can too. 

Tampons come in various absorbencies to take care of your period on your heaviest days as well as on your lightest. So, choose higher absorbencies to give you maximum protection and comfort if you experience a super heavy flow. A tampon is also a great choice if you’re looking for protection while doing sports or swimming.

Figuring out exactly what level of absorbency is best for you usually takes some testing and learning. Generally speaking, if your tampon is completely soaked in just a few hours, go up an absorbency level, but if it feels uncomfortable to remove, go down to a lower one. In all cases, remember that you shouldn’t wear a tampon for more than 8 hours, so aim to change it every 4-6 hours.

Are there periods pants for heavy flow?

Period pants are an alternative to towels and tampons designed to give you more freedom and comfort. They look and feel like your regular underwear while absorbing your flow like a period pad. They can also be washed and reused again and again, making them a great sustainable option if you’re looking for an eco-friendly period product.

If you’ve been wearing pads and tampons before, switching to period pants might make you think, “will it be enough?”. It’s understandable to be hesitant, especially if you’re trying something entirely new for the first time. But this shouldn’t keep you from considering the switch, as there are period pants specifically designed for heavy flow so you can go about your day no matter what life throws at you. Check out our range of washable period pants. 

Can you use menstrual cups for heavy flow?

Menstrual cups are another eco-friendly reusable option that can be used to deal with a heavy flow. Quite literally a cup for your period, it’s inserted inside your vagina and collects menstrual blood (rather than absorbing it, like tampons or towels). Most menstrual cups can hold up to 6 times more flow than a regular tampon, making them a great option to deal with heavy periods. [4]

The idea of popping a cup in your vagina can seem strange, if not uncomfortable. But that’s not necessarily the case:, they are made of medical-grade silicone, making them soft and flexible to move with your body. If you’re using a menstrual cup for the first time, it’s normal to feel a bit anxious. Just try to relax and breathe deeply while you insert it (much like you would when applying a tampon). And it’s okay if it doesn’t fit on the first go, you can always remove it and try again!

Keeping self-care at the top of your list

Dealing with periods is also about taking good care of yourself mentally and emotionally. While we might feel the pressure to carry on as usual, there are times we shouldn’t feel guilty about putting our needs first (and this is one of them!). Whether it’s by taking a nice warm bath, doing gentle exercises, drinking lots of water or getting plenty of sleep, there’re many ways we can practice self-care during our periods.

Remember that periods are a normal part of life and the best way to handle them is to listen to your body. The more you understand it, the easier it gets to make the choices that best suit you.

At the end of the day, choosing the right period products comes down to how comfortable and protected they make you feel. And you don’t have to commit to just one. Try mixing products and absorbencies throughout your period, depending on your flow. It may be tricky and take some effort at first, but it’ll be worth it in the long run!

To keep learning about living with periods, why not find out more about heavy periods or how you can manage night-time leaking?



[2]  National Women’s Health Resource Center. Survey of women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding Data on file; 2005



Continue learning