Heavy and/or painful menstrual periods are a common problem many women will deal with at some point in their life. In addition to a thorough examination by a gynecologist (someone like Central Iowa OB/Gyn Specialists, PLC), there are at-home techniques you can use to minimize accidents and pain.
Use Alternative Protection
Preventing accidents is constantly on your mind when you have heavy periods, especially if you quickly soak through conventional feminine hygiene products. Adult protective undergarments are not just for incontinence. The material is highly absorbent and can protect your clothing from blood. If you need protection when you are away from home, look for protective undergarments with a slim profile. Many manufacturers have created protective undergarments that mimic underwear, so they are less detectable under clothing.
Choose a size with a snug fit against your body and shy away from form-fitting clothing. Wear your protective undergarment in addition to your normal feminine hygiene products. If you wear pads, you will need to wear your normal underwear for your pad to remain secure and easy to remove when needed. Adult protective undergarments are also ideal for nighttime protection. You can sleep easier knowing any blood will be contained within the undergarment and you can avoid staining your bedding.
If you just want to protect your bedding and mattress from blood, consider purchasing absorbent underpads, which are often found at medical supply stores. Buy the largest pads you can afford and place it on top of your bedding. If you are more concerned about your mattress, you can place the pad between your sheets and mattress to reduce the chance the pad will move throughout the night. The same pads can be used for chairs or car seats to avoid stains.
Limit Tampon Use
If you often have large clots during your period and use tampons, try to reserve your tampon use for when it is essential. You may notice you experience significantly more cramping if you use tampons when you also are passing clots. Unfortunately, tampons can work against your body's natural tendency to push clots out of your body.
You may want to consider trying menstrual cups as an alternative method of discreet feminine protection. This can be less obstructive than tampons on your heavier days and may not increase cramping as much. If you typically use tampons when you are away from home, switch to an alternative form of protection when you are at home.
Incorporate More Soy
Consider adding more soy products to your diet. The easiest ways to incorporate soy is by using soy milk, edamame or tofu. If tofu is not exciting, there are other ways to include soy. Try purchasing soy isoflavones in supplement form. Soy acts as a phytoestrogen and can be useful if your body makes too much progesterone or too little estrogen.
If you have problems with long menstrual cycles or polycystic ovaries, adding soy might make a difference in the regularity of your cycles and the symptoms you experience. In some cases of heavy bleeding, your period may frequently come days or a week later than you would expect. This gives your uterine lining more time to build up before shedding and contributes to more blood and clots during your period.
Try Dong Quai
Before trying any herb, make sure you are not pregnant and discuss any potential interactions with your doctor. Dong quai is an herb that can be purchased alone or may be incorporated with other herbs as a supplement or tea. It is usually marketed as a natural way to help women with their periods or to ease menopausal symptoms.
You may want to use dong quai a few days before you expect your period and until the worst part of your period is over. When you have the option, choose the tea form since the hot tea can help with cramps. The herb is supposed to aid in flushing out the uterus. Although it will not decrease the amount of blood and clots you experience, the herb might make the worst part of your period less painful.
Although painful and heavy periods are a common occurrence for many women, it is no less problematic. While you are looking for other solutions, consider at-home options to make your periods more manageable.