Heavy bleeding, clotting, flooding are terms that 1 in 5 women are all too familiar with. Menorrhagia, or heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB), is often coupled with pain, makes life very difficult and, if ongoing, leads to anaemia, breathlessness and is very debilitating.
Heavy bleeding is most common during Perimenopause when changing hormone levels affect bleeding patterns, even when heavy bleeding hasn’t been an issue before.
However, many teen girls also suffer with heavy and often painful periods. Their cycle can come with nausea and headaches each month making life very difficult as they navigate school, work and their social life.
Thankfully, Ayurveda offers many natural remedies and simple life habits to alleviate these symptoms of hormone imbalance and kiss these problems goodbye!
How do you know if your bleeding is heavy? What is a ‘normal flow?’
Each women’s menstrual cycle is unique but generally a normal bleeding cycle:
Is approximately 3-5 days long with a couple of days heavier then tapering down to no flow by day 5 or 6 at the most.
Has an average blood shed of 25 – 40 mls (2 – 3 tablespoons).
Is regular, with an interval of 21 days between the bleeding phases.
You have Heavy Menstrual Bleeding if you:
Change your pad or tampon every hour for several hours or days in a row.
Pass large clots.
Need to change tampons and pads during the night or your flow soaks through your pads
Need to double up your pads for fear of flooding.
Regularly bleed for more than 7 days and have an average blood loss of more than 60mls.
You may also experience pain with your periods, excessive tiredness, dizziness, and experience shortness of breath.
Heavy bleeding is often a sign that your hormones are imbalanced and can be treated by natural means. But it can also be a symptom of something more complex such as Inflammatory Pelvic Disease, thyroid imbalance, cancer, or platelet or blood clotting disorders. If you have heavy menstrual bleeding please do get checked by your doctor to rule out these disorders, before you choose the natural path of treatment.
I can work in conjunction with your MD or GP.
While Western medicine may prescribe the pill, or an IUD (often a Mirena) to reduce heavy bleeding, these recommendations can come with their own complications. Excess exposure to synthetic hormones have been associated with increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and Alzheimer’s.
So, although I recognise how useful, and even necessary for some women these treatments are, I prefer not to recommend using them long term.
Hysterectomies (removal of the whole uterus and sometimes ovaries too) are too often performed. Dr. John Lee states that up to 74% of hysterectomies in the US did not meet all criteria for approval. Ideally a hysterectomy is a last resort. Your womb is a grounding force in your life and removal can create a cascade of other issues.
Ayurveda and other Eastern Medicine traditions prefer to discover and remove the root cause of the heavy bleeding.
Some of the common causes of heavy bleeding are:
Hormone imbalance – disruptions in progesterone and estrogen, your thyroid THS, and FSH hormones can impact ovulation creating anovulation or skipping ovulation. When this happens your body doesn’t get the signal to stop growing your uterine lining so it continues to thicken. This causes irregular and heavier bleeding.
Endometriosis – where cells of the uterine lining grow outside of their natural location, and attach to other organs including the bowel, bladder or even the lungs.
Fibroids – are hard or soft masses of muscle tissue that grow often in the walls of the uterus, or even outside of the uterus. They can be as small as a few mm or as big as a large orange.
Adenomyosis – the cells that normally line the inside of your uterus also grow in the layer of muscle of the uterine wall.
All of these conditions are estrogen driven. This means that when your body has too much estrogen these conditions can more easily form.
So the real question is why does Estrogen become imbalanced and create these conditions that provoke heavy bleeding?
Ayurveda recognises three scenarios that contribute to heavy menstrual bleeding.
One A – Chronic stress
Your body is designed to manage some stress. But when stress is registered too often, cortisol increases and stays at higher-than-normal levels in your body.
This is not good and can lead to elevate levels of estrogen.
Your adrenal glands, that make cortisol and adrenalin, get tired of having to deal with stress, so they ask for help.
Progesterone, the Mother Of All Hormones, puts her hand up to help and will provide the necessary building blocks to make more cortisol. BUT this means progesterone levels will decline, AND one of progesterone’s most important roles is to keep estrogen in check.
If you have enough progesterone, then it is less likely your estrogen will become excess and make masses that led to excess bleeding.
Progesterone naturally decreases from the age of 35. It is then, no wonder that most women who experience heavy bleeding are in their perimenopause phase of life when both cortisol is often high, and progesterone is low.
One B – constriction
When stressed, we tend to hold our body tight. This causes constriction. Like the narrowing of a hose, with constriction our blood, lymph and energy don’t flow as well as they could.
Less flow leads to stagnation or the accumulation of toxins in the body. As women, toxins tend to affect our reproductive organs. In these conditions there is more chance for masses such as fibroids to grow. If you have painful periods it is a sign that there is a level of stagnations or lack of proper flow in your uterus.
There is no pain without stagnation.
Stress and constriction also affect our breathing and digestion. When digestion is impaired it will impact your liver function. Your liver is incredibly important in processing and removing excess estrogen from your body. Read more about this here.
Two – Xenoestrogens
Xenoestrogens are bi products of industrial or chemical processing that have estrogen like effects in the body. They are aptly called endocrine disruptors. 🤨
These chemicals mimic the effect of estrogen in the body and contribute to heavy bleeding, fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis and breast cancers.
Breast tissue is particularly vulnerable to the toxic effect of xenoestrogens as they have so many estrogen receptors.
Because they are not naturally occurring estrogens our liver has a hard time breaking them down.
Using natural body products and storing food in glass or steel containers will help reduce your exposure to these chemicals.
Ayurveda calls heavy menstrual bleeding Asrigdhara and recognises that as well as the scenarios stated above, it is exacerbated by excess Vata and Pitta doshas.
Vata’s wind energy creates excess movement. The fire energy of Pitta creates heat and causes the blood to flow more than is normal.
Follow these tips to reduce both Vata and Pitta if you have heavy menstrual bleeding.
Spicy food, alcohol, coffee, excessive exercise, excess of garlic, mustard or fermented foods or drinks, processed or fatty / oily foods, fasting, dry crackers or corn thins, skipping meals, excessive late nights and irregular sleeping patterns.
Make choice to reduce stress in your life and do more of what brings you joy!
Establish regular eating and sleeping patterns. Your hormones love regularity.
Eat primarily a seasonal wholefood diet with fresh fruit and vegetables and good quality protein.
Self-massage to soothe your nervous system and move toxins.
Support your liver health and detox pathways.
Exercise regularly – again make it something you enjoy not a chore!
Iron supplements can be useful to boost energy. But your supplement must suit your digestive capacity and metabolism to not create more issues. A blood transfusion may also be necessary if you are very depleted.
Castor oil packs are very effective at breaking up stagnation and reducing heavy bleeding. Please consult with your practitioner to learn how.
Yoga – especially shoulderstand or supported versions, halasana (plough pose) and forward bends.
Natural Progesterone Creams and Herbal Supplements will boost your progesterone and help balance estrogen. I stock Anna’s Wild Yam Cream and Organic Vidari Kanda Powder, an Ayurvedic wild yam.
Ayurveda uses plant based herbal preparations to assist each individual pathway to balance. Herbs include Amalaki, Ashoka, Bhumiamalaki, Lodhra, Vidari Kanda, Shatavari and Licorice.
Always consult with your Ayurvedic Practitioner to determine which herbs are right for you.
I hope this has been helpful. Reach out with a comment below. Or make a time for a free clarity call here if you would like personalised support.