Heavy Flow: Adanna, 40

WELCOME TO OUR NEW BLOG SERIES HEAVY FLOW!
IN THE UPCOMING WEEKS WE WILL BE SHARING OUR READERS SUBMISSIONS ON HEAVY PERIODS. OUR AIM IS HIGHLIGHT THE EXPERIENCES AND SITUATIONS OF THOSE WHO HAVE HEAVY FLOWS (MENORRHAGIA)
THIS WEEK Adanna shares her story, which spans over two very different Islands and how A 3am internet search led to a Eureka moment in her battle with heavy periods.
Carrie, Cutlass and I 

It’s a man’s world!! This was my firm belief when I got my first period. I had read all the American books that made me believe it would be an experience with butterflies hatching and harp playing in the background on a sunny day with birds tweeting when I “came of age”. I had all the discussions with friends about periods who are elite women now. I thought I was ready. I was excited until it happened. I was on my way home from school feeling weak and tired with a very uncomfortable pelvic area. I arrived home to see my knickers were blood soaked. I was excited because I was the last of my friends to have my first period.

I tried to wash the knickers then fell asleep only to be awakened by my dad who had the cutlass out wanting to know who or what had been slaughtered on the white tiles; where all the blood in the bathroom came from and why I was blood soaked. The bathroom looked like a scene from Carrie. When I got off the bed and with shame pointed at my mother’s pack of pads with a knowing “Oh hor!” My dad proceeded to explain the birds and the bees island style. Thus; was my entry to womanhood.

Period leak heavy flow

Image By: Akshita Monga

I had to get innovative with my management as mine was not the normal periods.Oh no they ruled my life. It was the black towel on the bed. Black knickers, two extra-long sanitary towels to give me maximum coverage. I dreaded my periods. I had many occasions where I felt the warm stream of blood down my leg at assembly time. I often had the pleasure of walking like John Wayne, with the old school thick pads doubled up – you used what you had on the island. I had to cancel social events as I know, I ran the risk of leaking, or just being too exhausted to be sociable.

The Big Move and it’s Payback. 

When I moved to England it was the tampon and double pad combo. In my working years I would have a change of clothes. I remember vividly sitting in a meeting and feeling the “woosh” and having blood splashed up my back. Coming to the UK meant that my periods rebelled at my audacity to leave island life. It began a campaign to destroy me, literally. I had 2 periods in a month. Clots so big they needed contractions to come out. I had times where I would bleed until I got medication to stop.

This was insufferable, especially for an 18-year-old with no parental supervision who had just discovered boys!! I got fobbed off by the G.P, until I ended up in A&E when I had a “woosh” at work and someone said that is not normal.

I was diagnosed with (menorrhagia) and some validation that this is an actual thing that required specialist treatment. I was prodded, poked, scoped and scraped by many a specialist and given so much tablets to take that I rattled! These worked, but my periods began to play hide and seek for a few years and just pop up unannounced and uninvited.

No Tampons allowed 

This continued into my late 20’s until I decided to exercise a bit more and to stop using tampons. Did I mention I was a geek and would often venture into the lesser crossed paths of the internet and get lost in rabbit holes that do not lead to Wonderland.

I became tired of the periods ruling my life and popping pills that had minimal benefit and unpleasant life-long side effects (hello reflux I am talking to you). So I had decided that I was on the fast track to cancer with tampons.

I have no empirical evidence to support this so quote me at your peril. However; I noticed that the flow reduced significantly without them so I continued. The triple pad, toilet paper roll up, combo was emotional some days, especially when it got caught in my pubic hair. I only came to waxing last month don’t judge me!! I also saw a reduction in blood flow when I lost weight it might be related it might not.

Tampons on pink background

Eureka! Hello Mooncup 

My periods were transformed into normality when I began to use a Mooncup (other cups are available, but I only have used this one). Now discovering this gem occurred on one of my “I am going to cure myself” 3 am internet searches. This was after I got bored with researching how tall Jesus was.

I decided I am going to try it as I had nothing to lose but my dignity. This friends; is not for the faint hearted. However; it has saved me money and given me my life back.  So I got the thing which the sizing process alone was stressful. Because according to Mooncup your vaginal cavity is automatically and anatomically bigger after age 30 and no children. I will leave this here, as I know there are many theories and mathematical equations that could support this view however; it’s a lie from the pit of hell!!! Anyway, I got one, brought it home and I give thanks to everything that is great and good and helps with decision making because I chose the period week when I was on annual leave to get acquainted.

Mooncup heavy flow

Image by: Noname

This cup has a stalk that you can cut off entirely but then you must use superpowers to remove it and not spill blood from the cup. If you can do this, you are Houdini reincarnated and we must meet immediately. I will leave it to your curious minds to research the joys of Mooncup insertion and removal. My top tip for use outside the home is keep and empty water bottle in your drawer at work to rinse it in the toilet and disabled toilets are your safe space as you need to room to manoeuvre especially if your bum is so big has its own orbit like mine.

A Five Year Reflection

Now no more “wooshing” on average 5-7-day regular monthly periods. I have been using them for the past 5 years I believe. I still use a pad, but my John Wayne days are over!!! I still get extremely tired leading up to and on the first 2 days, but I can leave my house without fear and anxiety. That being said I am yet to wear white in period week. However; I love an animal print and being a woman every day of the month, hear me roar!!!

 

Thank You for reading… have you either experienced heavy flows? Please let us know in the comment section below!

 

Enjoyed this? Why not check out:

Charmaine’s account on her Heavy Flow

Mooncups and First Periods 

Sports and Periods

 

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Heavy Flow: Charmaine, 29

Welcome to our new blog series Heavy Flow!
In the upcoming weeks we will be sharing our readers submissions on heavy periods. Our aim is highlight the experiences and situations of those who have heavy flows (Menorrhagia)
This week Charmaine shares her at times frustrating journey to understand and ultimately accept her body’s flow.
In the Beginning 

Growing up I didn’t know much about periods just that my mum would be moody for a few days every month. I started my period when I was 12 going on 13. Although that sounds young and I guess a ‘normal’ age.

I was the last one of my friendship group to start my period which I got teased about. When I started I told my mum because I was way too embarrassed to go and buy sanitary products from the shop. She explained the option of sanitary wear to me. My mum told me that she had always suffered with heavy periods and bad PMS and hoped that I would not get the same symptoms as she did; unfortunately I did.

As my periods were always heavy I didn’t know any better until through speaking to friends I realised mine were not ‘normal’. Sometimes mine would last up to 2 weeks long, just before I got my period I would get really irritable over the smallest things sometimes for no reason at all.

So at 14 I went to the GP and it was suggested that I go on the contraceptive pill. Despite not being sexually active at the time my GP said it may help regulate my periods and make them lighter. The pill did help regulate my periods and now they only lasted a week however they were still pretty heavy.

Pills, Pills, Pills

I took the pill for a few years. I would sometimes get spotting in between periods so decided to give my body a break. My periods soon went back to being extremely heavy. The first 2 to 3 days I would feel exhausted and would end up taking over the recommended dose of pain killers to deal with the cramps. I decided to go back to the GP and ask to go back on to the pill again however they advised that they did not like prescribing Dianette anymore due to the side effects and recommended Microgynon. I tried it for a few months and although it regulated my periods and made them slightly lighter, I found myself feeling low in mood and had put on weight due to increase of appetite.

medicine.png

I didn’t put two and two together until talking to a friend who advised that these symptoms could be due to the pill and recommend I try Yasmin. So I went back to the GP and they said that the side effects I experienced were rare however that combination was not working for me. I asked about the Yasmin pill my friend recommended and they were reluctant to prescribe it for me. I looked it up on British National Formulary (an online medical dictionary for medical professionals) and found that it was one of the most expensive. They told me the make up of Yasmin was similar to Microgynon, but what did they know.

Diagnosis P

I and Google knew better right? Wrong, again I felt low in mood, my skin broke out in loads of spots on my face and my appetite was out of control. Again I had a break from the pill but the periods were just too much to cope with, what with balancing university and placements. So another friend who reported she had similar symptoms and was diagnosed with PCOS advised I try Cilest as that had really worked for her. She also advised I should explore whether I also had PCOS.  Back to the GP I went and they referred me for an ultrasound, bloods etc. All came back normal. Cilest seemed to be working for me as in no low mood, less mood swings although now I feel more emotional just before getting my period but not as irritable as before.

I passed a blood clot the size of a golf ball.

All was going well, then I began to get spotting again. I was on training one day and felt this weird feeling down below. You know like when you’re on period and you sneeze, yeah that feeling (if you know, you know). I had really bad cramps so decided to take myself off to the toilet. I passed a blood clot the size of a golf ball. I remember being so concerned I took a photo and sent it to my mum. My mum said that I needed to go back to the GP as it was not right. It was only that I was not sexually active at that period of time otherwise I would have thought I was miscarrying.

golf balls

This time I was referred to gynaecology. Through investigation they found I had cervical polyps and the consultant queried whether I had endometriosis due to my symptoms. The polyps were removed and the consultant explained that they can be caused by higher levels of Estrogen. Estrogen being a main component of the contraceptive pill is thought to be linked to cervical polyps. He suggested the marina coil instead.

Investigations and Normality 

The thing I like about the pill is that I can stop it whenever I want and it’s not so invasive, I was reluctant to have the coil and chose to continue with the pill. I had a laparoscopy to investigate for endometriosis but again they found nothing and said that unfortunately I’m just one of the unlucky ones who have really heavy periods and maybe that was normal for me.

Arriving at Acceptance 

I’ve now accepted that this is how my periods are. The downside is I was recently diagnosed with anaemia. This may be due to my heavy periods so I have been prescribed iron tablets. Since taking the iron tablets I have noticed my periods being even heavier although I need the iron to stop me looking like a zombie and actually make me feel alive instead of a 90 year old who wants to sleep all the time. It’s a never ending cycle but who said being a woman is easy.

The Bigger Picture

When we talk about periods we don’t always see the bigger picture and the knock on effect they have on our mental and physical health. This is why it’s great to have these platforms like Periodical Diary, where we can discuss things such as periods and understand what may be normal for me may not be for someone else.

acceptance

Charmaine is also an aspiring writer and you can find her work on Instagram: @theanthologyofcharms.

*Please note that Periodical Diary always recommend choosing the right medication for you in collaboration with your medical practitioner. 

 

Enjoyed this? Why not check out our other topical Series:

Fatherhood Series

First Series

Parent Talk