Firstly, let’s talk menstrual blood
So why is menstrual blood important? Paying attention to the colour and consistency of your menstrual blood is important, as it can tell you a lot about your cycle. And if anything changes from period to period, you’ll be able to tell pretty quickly because you’ll already be an expert on what normal menstrual blood is to you. How much blood women lose on their period can vary – it’s usually about two to three tablespoons each cycle (which is less than it looks), but for some women it can be more.
What are the different colours of period blood?Throughout your period, changes in the colour of your menstrual blood is completely normal, so let’s take a look at the different colours and what they’re trying to tell you.
What about clots in menstrual blood?Usually if your period is heavy then it’s normal to see blood clots about the size of a 10p coin, especially towards the end of your period. Excess clotting, think blood clots that are bigger than a 10p coin and are frequent, should be checked out by your GP.
How much bleeding is heavy bleeding?Because every person with periods can bleed different amounts it can be hard to judge, but heavy menstrual bleeding is usually defined as losing 80ml (which is about five tablespoons) or more each period, having periods that last longer than seven days or both these things. Some other ways to tell if your periods are heavy are: • You’re changing your sanitary products every hour or two • You see blood clots that are around the size of a 10p coin • You’re bleeding through your clothes or bedding – sometimes at night it can be normal to bleed onto your bedding at the start of your period and doesn’t necessarily mean you have a heavy flow, but if it’s happening every night of your period that would class as heavy • You need to use two types of sanitary products together If you’re worried about the amount of menstrual blood you’re passing, the NHS has a useful heavy periods self-assessment that offers great advice and may help give you a rating for how heavy your flow is.
What do I need to know about period crampsMenstrual cramping, often known as period pain or cramps, is a pretty common PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptom to experience during your period. But telling the difference between what’s a 'normal' period pain (because who knows what normal really means) and what’s probably not is important to know. If you usually dread your period because of PMS (premenstrual syndrome which is a combination of symptoms that many women get about a week or two before their period) we’ve put together seven easy ways to help ease PMS just for you.
What does period pain feel like?Each person can experience period pain in different ways, such as cramps in your stomach, pain in your back and thighs or even sometimes dull, constant or intense spasms. Other PMS symptoms that don’t fall under the kind of period pain we’re talking about can be found in how to ease PMS.
What causes period pain?During your period, the muscular wall of the womb contracts to squeeze the blood vessels that line your womb and actually cut off the blood and oxygen supply (but only temporarily), which causes period pain. Some women, however, can experience mild or no pain when this happens, or experience it more as contractions worsen to encourage your womb lining to shed. It’s not known why some women experience period pain more than others, but if you’re getting period pain so intense that it stops you from doing your daily routine each month, like going to work or school, this can sometimes be caused by some of these conditions: Endometrioses This is where cells that should line your womb actually start to grow elsewhere like your ovaries or fallopian tubes, causing really intense pain when blood is shed. Fibroids These are non-cancerous tumours that can grow in the womb, causing heavy periods. Pelvic inflammatory disease This causes your womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries to become infected with bacteria and inflamed. Adenomyosis This is when tissue that normally lines the womb starts to grow in the muscular womb wall instead, making periods really painful. If you notice a change in your normal period pattern, it could be linked to one of the above conditions – a couple of other symptoms to watch out for are bleeding in between periods and your periods being irregular. So make sure to book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.
So, how do I manage period pain?Usually taking ibuprofen paracetamol can help soothe period pain, you can also try taking a warm bath or shower and using a hot water bottle (wrapped in a towel). There are also specific products you can take that help to target perio pain. If none of these things work each month, you can have a conversation with your pharmacist to see if there’s any over-the-counter medication suitable or book an appointment with your GP. If you’re worried about anything going on with your periods, make an appointment with your GP and make sure to voice your concerns. If you feel like you’re not heard, keep pushing until you are because taking control of your health is such an empowering move and will only help you in the long run.