Heavy bleeding, for many women, is one of the most difficult symptoms of uterine fibroids. The definition of heavy menstrual bleeding focuses on “excessive menstrual bleeding over several menstrual cycles in a row that interfere with physical, emotional and social quality of life” – and yes, heavy periods can absolutely interfere with your quality of life!
In medical terms, periods are counted as “heavy” when:
- Bleeding soaks through a pad or tampon in less than two hours
- Clothing is regularly stained from overflow
- Blood clots larger than one inch are passed
These monthly struggles can be a lot to deal with. In extreme cases, some patients report that they can barely leave the bathroom. This can affect the ability to perform at work and to manage social interactions and relationships, to the point of even damaging self-esteem and leading to withdrawal and potential isolation.
Why do fibroids cause heavy bleeding?
The causes of heavy bleeding aren’t entirely understood yet. However, existing medical theories posit the following:
“It is believed that fibroids don’t allow the uterus to contract properly, so it isn’t able to effectively stop menstrual bleeding. Another issue is fibroids produce growth factors (proteins) that stimulate the blood vessels of the uterus and cause more blood in the uterine cavity, leading to heavier periods.”
What are the best pads for fibroids?
There are a variety of approaches as to what is the “best” method of managing a heavy flow, regardless of the reason for it.
The best pads for fibroids may in fact be double pads or several “layers” of protection. The easiest way to use this methodology is to double up on sanitary supplies. Purchase whichever super or extra-super pad you prefer, and place one pad in the front end of your undergarment, and another further back, overlapping in the middle. If your condition allows for the use of maximum absorbance tampons, add one of those into the mix, using the pads or perhaps period panties in addition, as backup (another layer) for the potential overflow.
Today, women are increasingly wary of the processing products used in creating what have been, until recently, standard menstrual hygiene fare. Hazardous issues that have been cited include the use of materials other than cotton, some of which may release potentially carcinogenic compounds. Unsafe bleaching, fragrances and dyes to which some may be sensitive, as well as environmental considerations, have come into play. If these are concerns of yours, a few quick searches will reveal a variety of organic and reusable products that are now available worldwide.
One more option some women suggest, in the search for the best pads for fibroids, is to skip menstrual products entirely and instead to purchase pads designed for issues of incontinence. While highly absorbent, take into account that incontinence and menstruation are not one and the same. There are definite differences in design and function, including odor-neutralizing particles to which one may be sensitive.
At the end of the day, even though up to 1 in 3 women are believed to have uterine fibroids at some point in her life, each experiences it in her own way and has to find her own methods of coping. As such, some trial and error will likely be required before an ideal solution is found.
What about a menstrual cup?
One more option, the chosen for many women, is the menstrual cup. Long available in Europe, today’s models are made from a flexible, medical-grade silicone. The position of the fibroid(s) is key in whether the use of a menstrual cup is even on the list of options, as a successful seal between the cup and vaginal wall is necessary for it to be effective. If forming that seal proves impossible, the cup could easily leak or even slip out of place.
As with all fibroid-related questions, speaking with your doctor is a necessary part of the process. Asking about locally available options and if you’re interested in trying a menstrual cup, if that’s even an option, are questions medical staff should be able to answer.
Researchers and developers are constantly on the lookout for new ways to both medically treat fibroids and to improve quality of life for those suffering through symptoms caused by uterine fibroids. Here’s to quick and successful advances in both of these arenas, for the betterment of us all!