Taste For Life proudly hosts blogs from some of the top nutritionists and life coaches in the country. Opinions expressed by the author are their own, and do not necessarily represent those of Taste For Life or its editorial staff. For questions about this blog or its content, please contact Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD.
Signs That Menstrual Bleeding is Too Heavy
- Soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours.
- Needing to use double-sanitary protection to control your menstrual flow.
- Bleeding for a week or longer.
- Passing large blood clots.
- Symptoms of anemia, such as tiredness, fatigue or shortness of breath.
Signs You Should See Your Gynecologist
- Vaginal bleeding so heavy it soaks at least one pad or tampon an hour for more than a few hours.
- Irregular vaginal bleeding.
- Any vaginal bleeding after menopause.
What Causes Heavy Periods?
- Many problems can cause heavy bleeding. Common ones include:
- Uterine fibroids. Other problems may be causing the bleeding even if fibroids are present.
- Low thyroid (even with normal tests).
- Low iron.
- DUB (Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding) is another common cause of heavy bleeding, especially around menopause.
- IUDs or medications (e.g., Ibuprofen) which delay clotting.
In my patients who have been recommended to have a hysterectomy because of fibroids and bleeding, treating these areas often eliminated the need for surgery.
Supplements for Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Just as heavy bleeding can cause low iron, low iron can cause heavy bleeding—creating a nasty spiral. I give iron until the ferritin blood test is over 60 ng /ml. The doctor will say it is normal if over 12, but this has been shown to miss over 80% of cases of severe iron deficiency. Get the ferritin up over 60, and ignore the test’s normal range.
Take 50 milligrams of iron a day (containing at least 50 mg of vitamin C to help absorption). Iron supplements will normally turn the stool black. Do not take iron within 6 hours of thyroid meds, or it will botch the thyroid's absorption.
If symptoms of low thyroid are present, or a test called the "Anti-TPO Antibody" is positive, consider supplementing with a low dose of thyroid hormone, even if the thyroid tests are normal.
Clinical experience suggests that vitamin A 50,000 units a day for 3 months may help (along with the other 2 above — I use all 3 together) in cases of dysfunctional uterine bleeding that occurs around menopause. This is a high dose of vitamin A and will cause birth defects, so people need to be sure to not get pregnant while on it and for six months after they've stopped taking it, and to not take the vitamin A if they have liver disease (may worsen the hepatitis). I mostly try this as an alternative to hysterectomy for chronic heavy bleeding.