Red blood cells

If you get really heavy periods, also known as ‘menorrhagia’, then it’s important to your health and well-being that you find out what’s causing them.

In years gone by, menorrhagia was considered normal, and just something that women had to put up with. Recent research, however, suggests that prolonged or heavy menstrual bleeding could be the sign of an underlying bleeding disorder, such as haemophilia [1].

Haemophilia is a genetic disorder that basically means that your blood doesn’t clot properly. It’s much more common in males, but some girls and women have mild haemophilia symptoms because they are carriers of the gene, but aren’t diagnosed.

If you bleed for more than seven days during your period, get large clots, or if your period is so heavy that you constantly have to change towels, then you may have haemophilia. But remember, there are other potential causes of menorrhagia, too, such as fibroids or a hormonal imbalance, so it’s essential to seek medical advice.

Other haemophilia symptoms include easy bruising, frequent and prolonged nosebleeds, and excessive bleeding from cuts, dental procedures or surgery. You may also find you get bad pain with your periods and painful ovulation – i.e., pain in the lower abdomen when one of your ovaries releases an egg, around 14 days before your period. If you are affected by any of these, it’s important to see your GP to find out if you might have haemophilia or another bleeding disorder.

The most important thing is not to panic. Having haemophilia doesn’t mean you can’t live a normal life or keep doing the things you love. But it is crucial to get medical support, as there can be serious health consequences if your condition is untreated. An undiagnosed bleeding disorder can result in anaemia – iron deficiency – due to the amount of blood you lose during periods. It can also cause problems during medical and dental procedures. So don’t hang about – find out for sure. Getting a formal diagnosis and support means you can get back to living your life without worry. So if you have any doubts at all, get yourself checked out.

Did you know?

30%
of women of reproductive age are affected by heavy periods [2]
50%
of women with heavy periods have a bleeding disorder [3]
2 in 3
women with menorrhagia develop anaemia [4]

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