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Question
Im sorry if this is not in your category for answering, but the people in this category have not been on for weeks and I cant ask anything. Im not a teen, im 21, and again im sorry for asking this. I feel like its to much info but its worrying my fiance. Basically I can bleed over 17 grams in less than 2 hours, soaking a super plus tampon. Its been like this ever since I can remember and while on my period I become exhausted and anemic. My dr keeps saying im measuring it wrong, but my thoughts are that these size tampons say they hold 17 grams and they will start leaking quite badly around the 2 hour mark so to me that means I bleed more than they can hold. Is this normal to bleed this much?

Answer
Hi, A.

Don't worry about the category, and so sorry you've been having trouble getting in touch with someone to help you with your question. And as far as too much info - girl, no such thing.

A heavy period is never any fun, but yours sounds not only unpleasant, but like it's really negatively impacting your life. As you know, women can have a huge range of menstrual experiences due to genetics, hormones, contraception, physical activity,age etc. There are some conditions that cause very heavy blood loss, like fibroid tumors (more common in older women), polyps (more common in women who've had children), and infections - but most of these are categorized by an unusual and noticeable increase in bleeding. So when you say that your periods have always been this way, I'm inclined to think, it might not be normal for every woman, but it's your normal. Your special, awful brand of normal- isn't that nice?

However, just because it's normal for you, doesn't mean that you should have to put up with that level of discomfort month after month. I'm frankly really surprised at your doctor's response. Are they an ob/gyn? If they're not, you need to go see one; if they are, you need a new one.

It's my suspicion that your very heavy flow is the result of a good-old-fashion hormonal imbalance. You're young, you still have a lot of estrogen floating around - maybe a little too much- and every month it's building up a very thick lining in your uterus that gets expelled with a vengeance at the end of each cycle. But I would assume that any doctor hearing your story would  want to do a pelvic exam, or at least ask some follow up questions to rule out endometriosis/ other stuff, especially if you experience severely painful cramping before and during your period.

Also, even if your problem is as common as hormones, there are ways of making you more comfortable.

1. For the love of Pete, go to a different doctor who will listen to you and take your complaints seriously. When I your age, I went to Planned Parenthood on the regular and they were great (and cheap).

2. Keep a written record, or even a spread sheet, if you want to get snazzy about it, detailing your periods such as: beginning and end dates, how many pads/tampons you're using and other symptoms. Here's a great example: http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/help_yourself/handouts/daily_diaries

3. If you truly are anemic consider starting iron supplements. Or at least, eat a good diet, stay well hydrated and take in some salty liquids (broth/soup, tomato juice, etc) to maintain proper electrolyte balance.

4. I've never tried this, but the Mayo Clinic website says that taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen (Aleve) can reduce menstrual blood loss

5. This is the one most guaranteed to make a difference, start taking hormonal birth control. I'm frankly shocked that your doctor hasn't suggested this to you already. Whether it's the pill, the shot, or Mirenea (IUD) , a hormonal contraceptive will regulate your body's chemicals, your uterine lining will be thinner and subsequently, you periods lighter. Plus, no babies.

Summery: Probably normal. Get a new doctor. Try bc. Tell your fiance it's going to be okay.

Hope that helps,

Julia  

Teen Health

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Julia Fout

Expertise

I can answer questions about sex/relationships/sexual orientation, HIV/STIs, pregnancy and contraception, nutrition, puberty, how to talk to parents/friends/teachers, depression and anxiety and drug use/drinking.
I think teens need sensitive, practical, fact-based information that's relevant to real life and is drawn from experience - I'm here to provide just that.
Note: I am not a medical doctor, I cannot diagnose illnesses and my advice is not meant to replace the care of a qualified physician.

Experience

I have a degree in Psychology and am working towards my Masters of Public Health with the goal of being a Health Educator. In both of these fields I've spent a lot of time focusing on the needs (mental, emotional, and physical) of teens. My undergraduate courses were heavily focused on the development of the adolescent and all accompanying issues. In my graduate program, I've been enjoying learning about disease prevention/control and behavioral health science, especially as it pertains to sex education. Both in school and out,I've logged many hours mentoring and tutoring kids of all ages; competently responding and reacting to their needs and providing thoughtful direction.

Organizations
East Carolina University
The Brody School of Medicine
Masters of Public Health Program

Education/Credentials
B.A. Psychology with a minor in Education
MPH Candidate

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