5 pro tips to cope with a heavy flow
Are you ever going about your daily life and feel a gush of blood ‘downstairs’, closely followed by you rushing to the nearest loo in a blind panic? Because let’s face it, period stains on your jeans are a look not even Gaga could pull off at the MTV Awards. Ever wake up in the morning to find that despite your humongous flying sanitary towel, blood still managed to get on your PJ’s and bed sheets? Because I feel you sister.
When I was 24 I was diagnosed with womb cancer which caused me to have extremely heavy periods and bleed between cycles, and it was a bitch! There are only so many pairs of pyjamas you can wear in a week before running out, and it genuinely seems like public toilets are a thing of the past, because apparently people don’t need to pee these days?! Before my diagnosis I needed the largest tampons and a night-time sanitary towel, which needed changing every hour. I had to set alarms throughout the night to wake up and change my sanitary ware or risk waking up to a crime scene. Luckily, I am now period (and cancer) free after having a hysterectomy last June. Thankfully my years of bleeding are over, and these are the pro tips I learnt along the way.
- Miracle blood stain removal
This is an absolute lifesaver! Blood is terrible for staining clothes and once the stain has survived a hot machine wash it is almost impossible to remove. Luckily there is a low cost easy option for removing blood: shampoo! If possible, try to clean the blood before it has dried, but it still works well if this isn’t possible. Hand wash the stain with only cold water and shampoo (hot water cements the blood in the fibres and makes the stain hella’ stubborn). Once you have hand-washed most of the stain out, put the item on the coldest washing machine cycle with biological washing powder, et voila! I have successfully removed a lot of blood using this method, and it has never failed me.
- Keep tampons everywhere
Lots of them, and large ones! No matter how prepared I felt I was, somehow I managed to need a tampon whenever I was carrying the one handbag not overflowing (pun intended) with them. I lost count of the amount of times I had to buy a new packet of tampons, which are exceedingly expensive (being a luxury item and all), when I had a million everywhere else. The largest size Tampax with accompanying large Always towel is a must. If you need as many tampons as I did that’s a lot of plastic applicators in the bin, so think environmentally friendly and search out the old style cardboard ones. They are fairly hard to find, so head to a larger supermarket or Boots/Superdrug as they stock them. Keep them in your draw at work, in every single handbag, in your bathroom, bedroom…
- Keep a period first aid kit at work
We’ve already covered the tampon situ, but in times of menstruation a first aid kit is needed. I’m talking about the extra period paraphernalia: painkillers, a hot water bottle, and chocolate. Dose up on your painkiller of choice, snuggle up in your computer chair with a hot water bottle and self-medicate on chocolate. If your cramps or headache won’t budge, taking two paracetamol and one ibuprofen (or vice versa) does the trick. They work on different receptors so are safe to take at the same time and hitting two birds with one stone will take the edge off.
- Eat a lot of iron
If you suffer from heavy periods it is really important to get lots of iron in your diet. Iron is an essential nutrient to produce red blood cells, which transports oxygen around your body to keep your organs ticking over nicely. It is quite common to suffer from anaemia (low haemoglobin/red blood cells) when you bleed excessively, which reduces the amount of oxygen your body gets and causes you to feel lightheaded, fatigued, and short of breath. Foods with a high iron content include red meat, leafy vegetables, legumes (lentils etc.), shellfish and fortified cereals. One way to get a huge boost of iron without having to radically change your diet is to fit in a daily spinach smoothie. My personal favourite recipe is a dream, with only a few ingredients it’s cheap, easy and tastes delish! Simply whizz up the following:
- Tons of spinach (fresh or frozen)
- Milk of choice, I’m partial to almond
- Any variety of green apple
- Keep a period diary
If you consistently suffer from heavy periods, keep track of them in a period diary. I don’t mean go all Bridget Jones and detail the amount of wine and chocolate you’ve consumed. I mean record when your periods are, how long they are, how heavy they are, and any other period-related symptoms. If your periods seem to be changing from what is normal for you, it could be caused by a variety of gynaecological health issues, and you need to be able to spot these and tell your doctor. Gynae issues range in severity, but it is always worth checking any changes to your cycle with your GP, as you could be suffering with anything from polycystic ovaries to a gynaecological cancer. If you go to the GP fully informed on your bleeding patterns, you will be in a good place to get the correct diagnostic tests from them and get any problems sorted. The Eve Appeal recommends that anyone goes to the doctor if they are suffering from: abnormal vaginal bleeding (any bleeding post menopause, in between periods or after sex), abnormal discharge, any unusual lumps and/or itching around your vagina or vulva, persistent bloating, or pain/discomfort during sex.