Heavy Menstrual Periods: Care Instructions

Skip to the navigation

Your Care Instructions

Menstrual flow

Many women get heavy menstrual periods and painful cramps. For some women, this means passing large blood clots and changing sanitary pads or tampons often. You may also have periods that last longer than 7 days.

A change in hormones or an irritation in the uterus can cause heavy bleeding. Women who are overweight are more likely to have heavy menstrual periods. But there may not be a specific cause for your heavy menstrual periods.

Your doctor may recommend hormone treatments to slow or stop your periods. If a fibroid (a growth that is not cancer) is causing your heavy bleeding, your doctor may recommend surgery or other treatments to remove the growth. Because blood loss from heavy menstrual periods can make you very tired and weak (anemic), your doctor may recommend that you take extra iron.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Keep a record of your periods. Write down when your period begins and ends and how much flow you have. That means counting the number of pads and tampons you use. Note whether they are soaked. Note any other symptoms. Take this record to your doctor appointments.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Try to reach a healthy weight. If you are trying to lose weight, do it slowly with your doctor's advice.
  • If you are taking iron pills:
    • Try to take the pills about 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. But you may need to take iron with some food to avoid an upset stomach.
    • Vitamin C (from food or pills) helps your body absorb iron. Try taking iron pills with a glass of orange juice or other citrus fruit juice.
    • Do not take antacids or drink milk or caffeine drinks (such as coffee, tea, or cola) at the same time or within 2 hours of the time that you take your iron. They can make it hard for your body to absorb the iron.
    • Iron pills may cause stomach problems, such as heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and cramps. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, and include fruits, vegetables, and fibre in your diet each day.
    • If you forget to take an iron pill, do not take a double dose of iron the next time you take a pill.
    • Keep iron pills out of the reach of small children. An overdose of iron can be very dangerous.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have sudden, severe pain in your belly or pelvis.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding. This means that you are soaking through your usual pads every hour for 2 or more hours.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have belly or pelvic pain when not menstruating.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have vaginal discharge with a bad odour.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your heavy periods are disrupting your life.
  • You have vaginal bleeding when you do not expect it or after menopause.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

Enter F477 in the search box to learn more about "Heavy Menstrual Periods: Care Instructions."

Current as of: February 25, 2016