How Do I Know if My Period is Normal?

About 10 million women suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding.1 Heavy periods can occur at any point, but are especially common in perimenopause - the years prior to menopause. In fact, many women begin to experience heavy and/or irregular bleeding in their 30s and 40s.

Keep in mind it is common for periods to vary in duration and flow, and normal periods can vary from one woman to the next. But the easiest way to gauge your periods is to ask yourself how often you change your pad or tampon. If your period is heavy enough to require changing it more often than every one or two hours, or if you have a period that lasts more than a full week, you may have heavy menstrual periods.

While not life threatening, heavy periods may be severely debilitating for women, resulting in pain, fatigue, emotional turmoil, embarrassment and anemia.

In a normal period:

  • 4-12 tablespoons—or two ounces—of blood are lost
  • Bleeding occurs about every 24-31 days
  • Bleeding lasts 4-7 days

In a heavy period:

  • Bleeding lasts longer
  • Additional protection (a tampon and a pad) may be needed
  • Your period affects your daily activities
  • Your tampon or pad needs to be changed frequently
  • You pass clots
According to the National Women's Health Resource Center, more than 56% of women have to make adjustments to their daily lives because of heavy periods1.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stated that if a woman perceives her period as a problem, then it's a problem, and it merits evaluation and treatment.

Among women with heavy periods:

  • Many feel tired/nauseated, experience bad cramps or have headaches
  • More than 60% have had to miss social or athletic events2
  • About 80% report avoiding sex1
  • 33% have been forced to miss work2
  • 77% have depression or moodiness1
  • 75% feel anxious2
  • 57% report a lack of confidence during their period1

Heavy periods are under-recognized and under-diagnosed because women are unaware heavy menstrual bleeding is a medical condition for which they can seek treatment. Instead, millions of women suffer silently, convinced that changing their pad or tampon more than five times a day is normal—something they learn to live with. Many women are unaware of the latest safe, effective and minimally invasive treatment options – that's why AboutHeavyPeriods.com wants to help.

Take our quiz to find out if your heavy periods are a medical condition that you should discuss with your doctor.

1. National Women's Health Resource Center. Survey of women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding. Data on file; 2005.
2. Cooper J, et al. A randomized, multicenter trial of safety and efficacy of the NovaSure® system in the treatment of menorrhagia. J Am Assoc Gynecol Laparosc. 2002; 9:418-428.

The content of this website has been reviewed by an advisory board of physicians that includes: Royce T. Adkins, MD, FACOG; Christian S. Pope, DO, FACOG; James B. Presthus, MD; Scott Schade, MD, FACOG.and Crystal Strickland, MD, FACOG.