On average, most women lose less than 16 teaspoons of blood per period, with the average being 6 to 8 teaspoons.
When you have a period, it can feel like you are losing lots of blood in each cycle, especially if you’re experiencing lots of pain. But you might be surprised to hear that the average woman loses just 6 to 8 teaspoons of blood per cycle, according to NHS resources.
Remember, when you get your period, your body is expelling more than just blood. It’s also getting rid of mucus and uterine tissues, so it’s difficult to measure how much blood you’re using. In fact, one study found that just 36% of your period is blood.
If your menstrual flow has recently changed for no reason (one reason, for example, could be a change in contraception) you should visit your doctor to find out if anything else could be going on. Often, there’s no reason for your flow to change, but it’s always best to consult your GP!
Measuring Blood Loss On A Period
The easiest way to measure how much blood you’re using each period is to use a menstrual cup. This comfortable and sustainable period product is a small cup which you put inside the vagina. It forms a suction-like seal inside you (you don’t feel it!) to stop any leaks and collect the blood.
Using a menstrual cup, you’ll be able to accurately measure how much blood you’re losing, as some even have a measure on the side.
I’m a big fan of the cup because it will also provide you with a better understanding of your period and what’s leaving your body. It’s also safer that a tampon because you’re not at risk of toxic shock syndrome.
It might be that you have a heavier period than most. A good indication of having a heavy period is:
- Changing your tampon or pad every two hours, or more often
- Bleeding through clothes
- Passing blood clots that are larger than a 10p coin
- Having to use two types of sanctuary products together
If this sounds like your experience, chances are, you’re either at the very start or the very end of your period. Not sure if this is you? You can take a self-assessment on the NHS website here.
The good news is that there are lots of treatments for heavy periods including going on the pill or other medicines which reduce bleeding.
There are lots of conditions which can cause heavy periods including endometriosis, fibroids or pelvic inflammatory disease. If you’ve just started having a period, they can be heavier too. But for lots of people with a uterus, there’s often no reason for heavy periods, but it is easy to treat.
If you’re worried about a heavy period, you should speak to your doctor. They may prescribe a type of contraception (like the pill or IUD), medicines or even surgery if all other options aren’t right.
If you’re changing your period products every two hours or more often, or using two period products together (like a sanitary towel and a tampon), then you probably have a heavy period. It’s likely you’re losing more than 80ml of blood in 7 days.
It’s totally fine to have a heavy first period. Your period will change over the next year and you may find that your flow and cramping is different from month to month. You might even miss a few months. This isn’t anything to worry about, but you should consult your doctor if you’re concerned.
It’s totally normal to feel tired during your period because of a decrease in oestrogen levels. If you’re experiencing bad cramps, this can make you feel more tired too. If you have a very heavy period, you iron levels might be reduced which causes anaemia and further tiredness.