Horrible Periods Are Not Necessary

Shellye Horowitz avatar

by Shellye Horowitz |

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We grow up hearing our mentors — women we respect and love — regularly complain about menses. Periods seem to be a fairly universal inconvenience and bother. However, I believe there is a fine line between inconvenience and suffering. Your period should not make you miserable.

Movements to reframe periods are underway. For example, period parties celebrate the beginning of menstruation as a rite of passage and a natural part of womanhood. Bleeding is real and will occur monthly for most women, but suffering doesn’t have to be a regular occurrence.

You deserve answers, diagnosis, treatment, and medical care. You deserve to be free of heavy bleeding that shackles you to your house. You deserve to live without fear of walks of shame with bloody pants. You deserve to participate fully and freely in life, without worrying about cramps, pain, blood clots, iron deficiencies, and passing out. You deserve to feel normal.

Bleeding is real, but embarrassment doesn’t have to be.

Is your ‘normal’ normal?

Normal periods are two to seven days in length. On average, people lose 1 to 6 tablespoons of blood per period — the size of a small hand sanitizer bottle.

According to the Huffington Post, women use around 20 tampons and five pads per period. Additionally, women use six caplets of Midol per day per period. However, you should not soak a tampon or extra absorbent pad in less than two hours. People with bleeding issues may go through more menstrual products in less time.

Bleeding is real. But bleeding that lasts for weeks and causes endless days of pain doesn’t have to be.

Tools that may help

Bleeding assessment tools can be invaluable when describing your periods to your doctor. Reliable data can help your doctor understand the extent of the bleeding abnormality. Personally, sharing the data with my doctor informed my treatment decisions and eventually led to a hysterectomy.

Some great bleeding assessment tools and apps are available to help you track your blood loss.

  • HFA Blood Sisterhood: I love this app. HFA Blood Sisterhood is a great way to track your use of bleeding menstrual products. If you enter the menstrual products accurately, you will get a Pictorial Blood Loss Assessment Chart (PBAC) score, which indicates the total amount of blood lost during a period and may be valuable to your doctor. You can also track bleeding that is not related to menses, which is helpful if you want a one-stop place to track bleeding-related issues.
  • Let’s Talk Period: Let’s Talk Period is a resource in Canada that helps women assess whether their bleeding issues require further investigation.
  • Better You Know: The National Hemophilia Foundation sponsors Better You Know, a campaign to raise awareness of abnormal bleeding in both men and women.
  • Hemophilia Federation of America’s Women Bleed Too! Toolkit: This toolkit includes resources available to women with suspected or diagnosed bleeding disorders.

Beginning menstruation is still seen by many as a rite of passage. If you or a woman you know is struggling with their monthly menses, please let them know that they are not alone. They do not need to suffer. Support is available for messy, excessively bloody, and painful periods. Reach out and ask for help.

Bleeding is real. But suffering, embarrassment, and pain don’t have to be.


Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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