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I thought I knew everything I needed to know about my body. Then I had kids. And it’s not just that my body changed once I had them (and boy did it), but these kids also ask way more questions than I ever thought I’d be comfortable answering. When you have three daughters, you have to get over that awkward feeling really quickly. And if you don’t teach them what they need to know, they are going to learn it from someone who will probably give them incorrect information. One added benefit to having an open dialogue – these talks also help you make your own health a priority, especially when it comes to period health.
So, let’s talk. Did you know that 1 in 5 women suffer from heavy periods,1and many don’t even realize that what they’re experiencing is not normal? Heavy periods can impact a woman’s health and wellbeing by causing nausea, cramping and in some cases, anemia. Still, many often avoid treatment because they don’t realize their periods are abnormal or they worry about side effects of treatment. All of these misconceptions and fears stem from low awareness of what is considered normal when it comes to our periods – something we can change if we just start talking about it.
I made the decision when our first daughter was born that I would be as open as possible with her. If I didn’t know the answer, I would find out. I would make those answers as age-appropriate and accurate as I possibly could. I can tell you that the first of those dreaded conversations were a mix of uncomfortable and hilarious. There was a lot of giggling, from both of us… ok, mostly me. But, since then, my oldest has had no problem asking me questions about her body and the changes that she’s going through. I still cringe a little on the inside, but I answer because I want her to be as educated as possible.
When she got her period for the first time this year, she was ready. We had discussed it in such detail that she knew what to do and what to expect. All women hate their period, but for some, heavy periods can impact their ability to live life to the fullest. And it’s important that all of us, including our daughters, feel empowered to speak up when something doesn’t feel right. In a recent survey, 85% of women agreed that heavy periods were “normal” and 69% agreed that pain is “something to be expected.”2 That means we have a lot of work to do in educating our friends and daughters about what is normal vs. when it’s time to see a doctor.
Believe it or not, just like many things on the internet, not everything you’ve heard about heavy periods is true. In fact, growing up, I have heard things from friends that I always believed to be true, but they were far from the truth!
For example, a heavy flow is NOT totally normal. While common, heavy periods do not have to be any woman’s version of normal, and could be indicative of a treatable gynecological condition. In fact, 1 in 5 women suffer from a condition called abnormal uterine bleeding,defined as heavy, excessive, or extended menstrual bleeding.1 So if your period is so heavy that you are doubling up on hygiene products or missing work or time with friends and family, you should talk to your doctor about your options.
I actually had a friend in middle school that always had to double-up. She was the only one in our group that was open about her period, so I thought that was normal! I always made sure to have extra pads in my bag, anticipating the day that I would need to double-up too.
My experience is what pushed me to educate myself and my daughters about what actually is considered a normal amount of bleeding. I don’t want my daughters to go through life “doubling up,” when there are so many treatment options that can help women find relief from heavy periods. And empowering our daughters starts by leading by example – make your health a priority (I know us mommies forget that sometimes). Ask yourself: “Is my period normal?” “Is it keeping me from living life to the fullest?” You can also use the doctor discussion guideto discuss your symptoms with your physician, and use it as a guide to talk to your daughters about symptoms to look out for.
And don’t stop there. If you are experiencing heavy periods personally, do something about it! Show your daughters that they don’t have to live through painful, heavy periods. There are so many options ranging from lifestyle changes, to hormones, to minimally invasive procedures that can help. Women who are finished with childbearing should explore endometrial ablation with their doctor – a quick, 5-minute procedure that can reduce or eliminate your period. you can learn more at www.wehateheavyperiods.com. Feel empowered to be your own best health advocate – so your daughters will be too.
Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by Hologic via Momtrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hologic or Momtrends.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heavy menstrual bleeding. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html. Accessed July 05, 2017.