How to Make Your Period Lighter

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Periods are annoying for many women, but when they're on the heavier side, they can have a negative effect on your lifestyle, your love life, and your wallet. The good news is that heavy periods can often be managed by changing your diet, exercising regularly, and trying hormonal birth control. If these measures fail, see a doctor to determine whether your heavy period might have an underlying cause that should be treated. If you want to learn more about how to make your period lighter and more manageable, keep reading.

Managing Your Period With Diet and ExerciseDownload Article

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    Avoid white flour, sugar, and processed foods. These foods apparently exacerbate the symptoms of PMS and cause difficult periods. While it's not proven that avoiding sugar and carbs actually shortens your periods, it can help reduce bloating and cramps, and many people report having lighter periods when they pay more attention to their diet. Ice cream and potato chips might be exactly what you're craving when your period comes, but you'll really feel a difference if you can avoid them![1]
    • White bread, pasta, crackers, pretzels, chips, cookies, cake, and other pastries and sugary confections are on the list of foods to avoid. Swap them out for fruit and natural sweeteners like agave or honey.
    • Avoiding these foods all month long is your best bet for managing your period. If you feel like you can't live without a few scoops of chocolate ice cream to conquer your PMS, you'll still get the benefits of eating healthy in the weeks before your period.
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    Try a Mediterranean-style diet. Some people have found that basing their diet on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and lean meat has a big effect on their monthly flow. The Mediterranean diet is low in sodium, saturated fat, and processed carbs, all of which cause the body to retain water and bloat up, so eating this way should help with other PMS issues as well.
    • Eat mostly fruits and vegetables, beans and other legumes, olive oil, and whole grains like quinoa and farro.[2]
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    You can also place an ice pack on your lower abdomen to make your period lighter.
    • Eat dairy products, eggs and meat in moderation.
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    Eat food high in potassium. Having low levels of potassium in your body can lead to irregular, heavy periods, in addition to more painful cramping and other symptoms. During your entire cycle, and especially in the weeks (all three of them if you wish) leading up to your period, choose foods packed with potassium to help regulate your flow.
    • Bananas, sweet potatoes, lentils, yogurt, salmon, and raisins are all high in potassium.[3]
    • Boiling foods may deplete the potassium in some foods. Steam or bake potassium-rich foods to get the full benefits, or, if possible, eat them raw. You could, if you really feel that potassium is helpful, try a dietary supplement.[4]
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    Increase and maintain your intake of other essential nutrients. Foods rich in essential fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B, C, and E are ideal for menstrual health. In particular, focus on strengthening the blood vessel walls, with vitamin C, flavonoids, and iron being top of your list of must-haves. Iron is also important for restoring iron lost from excessive blood loss.[5]
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    Exercise regularly. Getting regular moderate exercise can help keep your periods regular and lighten them up, apparently. Regular exercise keeps your body healthy and your weight steady, so you're less likely to experience the body fat fluctuations that lead to irregular and heavy periods.
    • Some people report that light exercises like swimming, jogging, and power walking make their periods lighter and shorter. Aim to exercise for about 30 minutes 5 - 6 times per week.
    • The type of intense exercise you'd get when training for a marathon or another sporting event can actually cause your periods to stop altogether.[6] It causes your estrogen levels to drop, since you lose so much fat that your body wouldn't be able to maintain a pregnancy.

Trying Birth Control Methods to Regulate FlowDownload Article

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    Talk to your doctor about going on the Pill. Birth control pills contain progesterone and estrogen, two hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle and determine how heavy your period is each month. Taking birth control pills causes many people to experience lighter, shorter periods. If your period is particularly heavy and you're ready to manage it with medication, this might be the right option for you.[7]
    • Talk to your doctor about getting a birth control pill prescription.[8] Everyone's body is different, and there are a lot of different types of pills designed to cater to different needs. Make an appointment with your doctor or go to your local health clinic to get the prescription that's right for you.
    • Take the pill according to instructions. If you skip a few days, you might end up experiencing a heavy or irregular period - not to mention, the pill will no longer be effective as a birth control measure. Be sure to take the pill every single day, at the same time every day, to experience the benefits you're looking for.
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    Consider other hormonal birth control methods. The Pill isn't the only type of birth control that can work to regulate your period. If you don't want to take a pill every day, consider these other options that will have the same benefits as the standard birth control pill:[9]
    • The birth control patch. This is usually placed on the arm, back or thigh. It distributes the same hormones as the Pill, only they're absorbed through your skin. The patch has to be changed every few weeks.[10]
    • The birth control ring. This is a small ring inserted into the vagina and changed out once a month. It releases hormones into the bloodstream.[11]
    • A hormonal intrauterine device (IUD). This is a small metal device that is implanted in the uterus by a health care provider. It releases hormones into the uterus and works for up to 12 years. The IUD causes some people to miss periods or have lighter periods, but for others it can make periods irregular.
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    Look into continuous birth control pills. If you would prefer not to have your period at all, there are now options that will let you eliminate it altogether. Several drug companies make pills that create either very light or nonexistent periods, depending on your preference. The pills are similar to regular birth control pills, but they contain a type of hormone that can regulate the period to an even greater degree.[12]

Making a Heavy Period Easier to HandleDownload Article

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    Understand normal causes of heavy periods. Certain life stages cause periods to get heavier, and in some cases having a heavy period is genetic. Changes to your body or your lifestyle may be the cause of heavy periods. Be sure to check the following as possible reasons for the heavier-than-usual period:[13]
    • If you're going through puberty, your periods may be heavy while your hormonal levels adjust; an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone can cause heavy periods.
    • If you've just stopped taking the Pill, you might have a heavier period, since the Pill tends to make periods lighter.
    • If you've just had an IUD placed, chances are you're experiencing a heavier period for the first few months. The body initially treats the IUD as a foreign object and this results in heavier periods. You might consider speaking to your gynecologist and possibly changing contraception methods if this lasts more than the first three to six months.
    • If you've just given birth, and you're experiencing heavy periods, you may need to wait. Periods following birth can be heavy, particularly if you don't breastfeed. However, your usual level of period should be restored within two to three cycles.
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    Try aromatherapy to ease the stress of a heavy period. If you trust in using aromatherapy as a treatment method, then this might assist, and probably in conjunction with other methods. Try a blend of two drops each of rose attar, Roman chamomile, and clary sage essential oils with four drops of sweet marjoram oil and two tablespoons of sweet almond or olive oil as the carrier oil. Rub this mixture over your stomach every night during menstruation, or have your partner do it for you.
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    Keep menstrual pain medication or herbal treatments well stocked up and in date. If you're also experiencing pain along with the heaviness, you can at least deal with the pain and remove one source of distress. If you don't have menstrual pain medication, you can also use regular pain killers, such as ibuprofen, to alleviate pain from cramping and potentially reduce flow.[14] Don't suffer in silence; get rid of the pain side of the period. Speak with your doctor if you're not sure what's safe to take to alleviate your period pain.
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    Have plenty of sanitary implements on hand. Don't skimp: get your favorite brand and make sure you never have the chance of running out while you're on your period. Buy plenty of supplies in super size, including both tampons and pads. Have overnight pads on hand, too, since you should not sleep with a tampon.[15]
    • Don't be dismayed that you need the super super size that absorbs the most; so what? It says nothing about you as a person or your physique.
    • If you're worried that a sanitary item might be showing through your clothes, try to check in a large mirror or ask a friend to prove to you that it's not. Often it's more a feeling than a reality, although you may need to avoid some body hugging styles if they do show.
    • For some people, tampons may not ever be adequate with a heavy flow, so be prepared to trial different types of sanitary coverage, including pads, menstrual cups, and other forms of menstruation protection.
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    Deal with leakage. Those with heavy periods may experience occasional leakage onto clothing. If you're worried about leakage, try doubling up on pads to get maximum coverage. It is a good idea to have a second lower set of clothing in a locker, in a bag, or in another convenient place, just in case. Good friends, teachers, coworkers, and caring strangers will be kind enough to warn you when it happens if you can't tell. Ignore anyone who is unkind. It is not something to be embarrassed about; anyone who laughs is inconsiderate and lacks compassion.
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    Cover things to avoid getting blood on them. Cover beds, couches, sheets, etc., where you'll be sitting or lying for a while with a towel or other cover that is easily washable and will dry fast. It's far easier than getting blood off the mattress or couch cover and nobody is any the wiser when you whip it away.
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    Talk to your doctor if your period is extremely heavy. In some cases a heavy period is an indication that you may be experiencing a medical problem affecting your flow.[16] A certain amount of blood loss is normal, but it's possible to lose too much blood and become anemic and weak. If your period lasts longer than a week, you're passing large blood clots, you soak through your pad or tampon every hour, and you feel weak or short of breath, you should see a doctor right away to find out what's causing the problem.[17]
    • Write a description of your typical period and other symptoms you tend to experience around the time of your flow.
    • Have your doctor check into issues that commonly cause heavy periods. A hormonal imbalance, fibroids, polyps, and more severe illnesses might be causing excessive blood loss.[18]
    • Your doctor will give you a pelvic examination and may also do a vaginal biopsy, ultrasound, blood tests, pap smear, or cervix biopsy.

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