If you’re plagued with irregular, heavy periods that drain you of all your energy or cause you to keel over in pain, and you find it much harder to manage your menses that your girlfriends, you probably suffer from menorrhagia, or abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding.
Heavy menstrual flow affects about one in 10 women, according to an American study done in 2015. Ann Gee, co-founder of Liveloveluna, an alternative menstrual product retailer, runs a closed Facebook group on which women openly discuss their period concerns and help each other find solutions.
She shares some of the period woes discussed in the Facebook group that every woman with heavy menstrual flow can identify with.
1 “That sickening gushing feeling”
It’s that awful sensation of blood pouring out of you each time make a big movement or get up from your seat. You wish you could just stay still for the entire day, but the world continues to spin and you just have to suck it up. (If only you could do that, literally.)
So you go about your day at a snail’s pace, which only invites strange looks from your friends and colleagues. But unless they are ready to know the messy truth, you’ll dismiss their concerns and blame your sloth-like mannerisms on a lack of sleep.
2 “A horror show in the public restroom”
As if public toilets weren’t gross enough.
You dread having to go even more than usual. Because your period is heavier than most girls, you have to replace your pads and tampons more regularly. That means more trips to those dirty restrooms, more long queues to join and more agonising discomfort in the restroom stall
You struggle to get into position. Your squats exercises come in handy for helping you hover over the seat, but it’s your period that hones your sense of balance and motor coordination through this feat.
Then, you come face to face with the mess you made. If you’re someone who uses sanitary pads, this means you have to endure the gory sight of what used to be your uterus lining spilled on a white cotton canvas. Very heavy menstrual bleeding usually results in bloody clumps and more often than not, leakage. Not pretty.
3 “Feeling warm, damp and sticky”
It’s warm and wet down there thanks to profuse bleeding plus a load of fluctuating hormones that cause you to sweat more than usual. If you’ve got sensitive skin, you end up with rashes or even nasty infections from the bacteria that thrives in the moist environment.
Read more: 10 reasons for that rash on your vagina
The dampness is a constant reminder that you’re bleeding all over yourself. So you’ll just have to be forgiven for compulsively checking to make sure your pad is in place or that your tampon hasn’t become saturated with blood.
Unlike girls with regular periods, your vigilant panty surveillance isn’t driven by paranoia. The possibility of leaking on to your underwear is very real.
4 “Stuffing my travel luggage full of menstrual products”
While other girls worry over which pairs of shoes they should bring for their next holiday, you lose sleep over how many packs of pads or boxes of tampons you should try to fit in your suitcase, particularly when your destination is a less developed country.
And having your period on a long-haul flight is arguably the most misery anyone with a heavy period will have to suffer through when travelling. If you’re a mere mortal in economy class, you’re stuck in a stuffy cabin with minimal legroom and only a carry-on bursting at the seams with overnight pads and super-plus tampons to keep you company. Getting out of your seat to get to the lavatory is an ordeal in itself, so the airline had better give you an aisle seat or things could get ugly.
5 “Bodycon dresses are a strict no-no”
There’s a wedding dinner coming up and you planned to wear a stunning, figure-hugging dress for the occasion. But the day before the big event, your period strikes. Now you’re seriously considering mum jeans.
Your period restricts your outfit choices significantly – and it’s not just the colour or the cutting. You might eliminate skirts or shorts and stick to wearing pants just to keep everything securely in place.
Though, let’s be honest, all we want is to wear baggy sweatpants until our periods end and we can return to looking presentable.
6 “All that money down the toilet”
Heavy periods are costly. You can easily go through an entire box of tampons within two days. (How anyone can wear one for “up to eight hours” without leaking all over is a mystery to you.) Imagine how much additional spending your period costs you each year compared to girls who can get by on a pack of ultra-thin pads every month.
Reusable menstrual products like menstrual cups and period underwear (available from www.liveloveluna.com) are appealing to you because of the potential cost savings and comfort they have to offer. Brands and alternative menstrual product enthusiasts like Ann sing praises about the efficacy of these new fuss-free menstrual catchment tools, many of them designed for women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding.
If you’ve already made the switch, you’ve probably been saved from all the other problems mentioned in this list, too.