Many women suffer heavy bleeding on their period. So called 'super' pads and tampons, are often soaked within an hour or two, Such heavy bleeders often feel exhausted, nauseated and in low mood. For some, heavy bleeding may be as a result of fibroids, polyps or a thickened womb lining, but in most cases, there is no obvious medical reason for heavy bleeding.
If you are consistently bleeding heavily, my advice is to consult with your GP to make sure there are no underlying medical issues. And given the blood loss, I'd also ask to have your stored iron levels checked. If you are found to be anemic, you will need to take an iron supplement and eat iron rich foods to restore your iron levels.
Dr Cathy Stephenson has written a good article about the medical view of heavy bleeding or menorrhagia which you can read here.
Traditional Chinese medicine approach:
As an acupuncturist and holistic health practitioner, I see many women who bleed heavily during their period, and typically find that as they become peri-menopausal it gets worse and some end up opting for a hysterectomy in desperation.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective is that the Spleen is deficient and is not managing the blood correctly in the body. The Spleen’s functions in TCM are to receive the food essence from the stomach and circulate the nutrients to where they are needed and to help the body to absorb and use them. So this is making healthy blood and circulating it and managing the blood in the vessels.
If you have tooth marks indented into the sides of your tongue, it is a sign of Spleen deficiency. If the tongue body is pale it means that the blood is deficient and the person may be anemic. Often we will see a thickly coated tongue as part of the picture with a woman who bleeds heavily. This means that there is a lot of what we call Damp in the body, and it usually means that the person is over-consuming refined and processed foods with low nutrient value, deep fried foods, sugar, dairy products, alcohol and overeating. She may be carrying extra weight and be putting the needs of others ahead of her own.
As part of this picture we will probably see a tongue that has red, orange or pales sides, showing that the Liver and Gallbladder are being affected. The Liver stores the blood and also is responsible for circulating blood and energy in our body. It is affected by emotional stress, poor diet and an irregular lifestyle. When Liver Qi gets stuck we can feel depressed or irritable/angry and have issues with sleep, digestion and menstruation.
Functional medicine approach
In functional medicine terms, the liver’s main task is to continually detoxify the body from toxins that we ingest or come into contact with from our environment. So the liver becomes congested, overwhelmed and cannot complete it’s detoxification processes effectively. Many women who bleed heavily will be oestrogen dominant…that is their bodies are holding onto a dangerous form of oestrogen that is not passing out of the body and is being re-circulated.
Xenoestrogens come from plastics, tap water, pesticides, birth control pills and HRT, skin/hair and sanitary products to name a few sources. Symptoms of the hormonal imbalance known as oestrogen dominance include heavy bleeding, PMS, fibroids, polycystic ovaries, mood swings, fatigue, brain fog, water retention and low libido – which are also all symptoms of low thyroid function.
Read more about oestrogen dominance in this article by Ben Warren, Nutritionist & Holistic Health Practitioner.
Detoxify your life!
Many of my clients have made huge improvements to their overall health and wellbeing and to their menstrual health when they make the change to an anti-inflammatory plant-based, whole food lifestyle and remove all the obvious toxins that they come into contact with. The liver is then able to clear the backlog of toxins and resume a more normal function.
I also observe that when women change from a toxic brand of sanitary products to a non-toxic one, they find they experience less bleeding and less cramping and feel better overall. Considering that the skin is the largest organ in the body and vaginal tissues the most sensitive and absorbent, any toxins present in pads or tampons will be absorbed directly to the body and it’s tissues. It makes sense then that the body by bleeding and cramping more is just trying to expel the toxins as fast as possible.
So, my advice to you is simply:
Detoxify your life on all levels; small changes like choosing non-toxic sanitary products, shampoo, skin products/make up, cleaning products and anything else that is absorbed or consumed can make a big difference to your health.
Take up a nutrient-dense, plant-based, whole food lifestyle that is good for you and easier on the environment.
Move the body regularly and drink plenty of pure water to promote liver detoxification.
There are many low cost online health coaching programmes available which can be very helpful to support you in making sustainable changes. Or you may prefer one-on-one coaching by a TCM practitioner, a naturopath or holistic health coach.
One I have used and found to be evidence-based, super informative and supportive is by Dr Wendy Sweet from Hamilton: www.mymenopausetransformation.com
Great for those approaching menopause who want to learn about their changing body and transition through menopause healthily and naturally.
Go well on your health and wellbeing journey – the power is in your hands and your choices.