It’s hard to define what a heavy period is because it’s different for each woman. Usually, periods are considered heavy if you’re changing your pad every hour or so or if it’s affecting your daily life, like if you bleed through your clothes or if you walk up the stairs and you feel short of breath or extremely fatigued at the end of a workday. In many cases, women experience heavy periods for no known reason, meaning that there isn’t a medical cause.
If you have heavy periods and also other symptoms, like bleeding after sex or pain or if you’re over 45, it’s important to see a doctor. There are treatments that may work for you. However, when there’s no medical issue behind heavy bleeding, many people don’t want to take hormones or medications that have side effects or undergo surgery.
If heavy periods are a fact of life for you, there are some choices you can make to get through it and have it be less disruptive to your life.
Use a Menstrual Cup
You can find menstrual cups that hold a large capacity of fluid compared to tampons. Check out this quiz that lets you sort the available menstrual cups based on factors like your activity level and the heaviness of your flow.
There’s no one-size-fits-all best protection for heavy periods because everyone’s lifestyle is different. What works for someone who sits at a desk all day will probably be very different than what works for someone who is on their feet and moving around most of the time. Even things like how you sleep at night can make a difference.
Wear Overnight Pads
A lot of people with heavy periods wear overnight pads during the day. You probably won’t want to wear the super-duper bulky ones, but you can find some overnight pads that are thin. Winged pads offer the best protection for heavy periods since it covers the edges of your underwear, cutting down on the chances of getting side leaks. Pairing the pad with a tampon or menstrual cup also helps.
Wear Period Underwear for Heavy Flow
If you have heavy periods, you should choose period underwear that’s got leak-proof PUL as well as absorbent layers. In general, you’ll wear period panties as backup to another form of period protection. Look for period underwear that has the special lining going all the way up to the back waistband and, if you’re a front sleeper, up to the front waistband too.
How to Not Leak on a Heavy Period?
If you know your period is going to be very heavy and you’re determined not to leak, it’s best to take a three-pronged approach:
- Wear a pair of heavy-absorbency, leak-proof period underwear.
- Add a pad with wings. Choose an overnight pad if you can get away with the bulk (it’s easier to pull off if you’re wearing a flowy skirt or loose-fitting dress).
- Wear a heavy-absorbency tampon or menstrual cup
Most women have one or two heavy period days during their cycle. But if you have several heavy days, you should bring it up with a doctor and find out what, if anything, is going on and what you can do about it. Heavy periods don’t have to mess up your life.