Ever had period jealousy?
If you have super heavy menstrual flow and long periods like me, I bet you’ve experienced it.
Somewhere around here, most writers would say that this isn’t a post for men, but I think dudes with women in their lives (especially married ones) should know how menstrual cycles work, and understand female hormones, period pain and what “normal” is so they can support their wives through each cycle and make sure they’re getting help on root causes if they’re irregular. So guys – keep reading!
It looks a little like this:
My friend and I are on a summer walk and I complain about my stupid menstrual cup overflowing and having to wear a pad too, so sweaty!
Friend: “Oh I started using one of those too, love it! I haven’t had the overflow problem though – how many times do you have to empty it?”
Me: “Like 7 or 8 on the first few days of the cycle.”
Friend, stops in her tracks to look at me, eyes wider than a size 2 Diva Cup. “Um, WHAT???? Is that normal?”
Me: “Doubt it – the insert in the package says most women’s average flow is like 1 or 2 ounces, which is 4 cups full, max. So I get more than triple flow in just one day, ugh!! I just hope it’s more manageable by day 5, because we’re going swimming as a family this weekend.”
Friend, nearly in shock now, I’m considering calling an ambulance for her as she staggers backward: “Day 5? What’s day 5???”
Me: “You know, the fifth day of period flow? Like before it starts to dry up for a few more days?”
Friend: “Um…I’m all done with spotting and everything after like 3 or 4 days…”
Me, hoping the ambulance will come give me some oxygen now: “A 3 or 4 day cycle? What’s THAT????”
That’s period jealousy, my dear readers, when you realize that no, a full week of bleeding is NOT every woman’s experience, nor are double tampon/pad days and changing sheets at night even with a menstrual cup and overnight maxi-pad.
When you have a friend with a 3-day cycle who can just put in a menstrual cup and forget it, you’re supremely jealous.
It’s kind of amazing to me that with as much natural health information as I read, it took me a good 24+ years of fertility to understand that my menstrual cycles WERE. NOT. NORMAL.
Yes, “were” is the proper word there, because I’ve finally worked on root causes of my heavy periods and discovered some supplements that help reduce the flow, and my cycles are finally more regular to boot!
We’ll start today with defining and exploring answers to:
- What IS a heavy period?
- What are some root cause possibilities?
- What practical solutions exist to solve root causes of heavy periods?
I have a great interview with Nicole Jardim, “The Period Girl,” to share with you, and finally, if you can’t find or are in the midst of fixing root causes but want some relief, we’ll talk about some supplements that may make a big difference as well.
What Does it Mean to Have a Heavy Period?
Of course there is a wide range of “normal” when it comes to how much blood and how many days a woman’s period should last, but there are some definite “this is too much” markers that show you’re completely out of range.
Some symptoms of a heavy period include:
- bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days
- you have to change your pad/tampon/period underwear more than every 2 hours for the first 3 days
- you’re emptying a full (30 mL) menstrual cup more than twice a day
- you need a pad and a tampon together
- you need to get up in the middle of the night
- clots that are longer than 1 inch
- exhaustion or anemia in conjunction with your period
A “normal” period occurs every 25-35 days and lasts for 3-7 days. The average blood loss is about 35-50 mL. That’s about 6-10 fully soaked pads or tampons.
I know women who have periods so long that there are more days of bleeding in a month than not bleeding, so it’s WORTH seeking out root cause and not just masking those symptoms! Typically the side effects of whatever is prescribed to stop that heavy flow are not going to be worth it, either in the short term or long run or both.
Mine weren’t that bad, but still on day one and two, it’s nearly debilitating and I should be homebound (but sometimes cannot be). The horrid attitude often associated with PMS shows up in me more often on those early days, just because I’m constantly leaking and #lifeinterrupted makes me crazy cranky!
Possible Root Causes of Heavy Periods
I find it fascinating (and typical) that the primary site on a search for “regular period flow” only lists actual diseases (and pregnancy/breastfeeding of course) as possible reasons for irregular periods.
And the recommendation? Birth control. Anyone surprised?
Cover the symptoms, call it “normal.”
That’s not acceptable to me! There are real root causes that aren’t necessarily diagnose-able “female” diseases, and if we do enough detective work to uncover them, we can solve our heavy periods and irregular cycles (more on that in another post) once and for all!
When your body does something out of the norm, it’s not crying for birth control to cover it up. It’s crying out to tell you something is WRONG that needs to be fixed.
The most common discovery when a woman has heavy periods and irregular cycles is estrogen dominance, basically an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones that rise and fall to create the female cycle.
Estrogen dominance means there’s too much estrogen in the body, and there are other root causes the we need to dig deeper about to solve that one.
Also, the opposite often happens as a result of all that estrogen, low progesterone. The symptoms of low progesterone of course include irregular cycles but you’ll notice other issues too.
Some of the other symptoms of an estrogen/progesterone imbalance include:
- breast tenderness
- menstrual migraines
- period pain
Root causes of all that estrogen floating around can range from exposure to too many environmental estrogens from personal products (looking at you, sunscreen!), conventionally farmed meats, plastics and more.
We are even exposed to estrogenic compounds through our drinking water because of the personal products, plastics and hormones OTHER people are taking which get into the system through the sewage and aren’t able to be filtered out (think of all the women on birth control and hormone replacement therapy urinating estrogen out every day!).
You also might have diagnoses such as:
- thyroid imbalance
- adrenal fatigue
And if you can’t excrete all the estrogen your body makes naturally plus all that you’ve been exposed to? There’s another root cause of estrogen dominance even if you can clean up your environment.
A liver not functioning at its best and constipation are two other root causes to look closely at. I’ve been constipated all my life, which could totally be the root cause of my own estrogen dominance.
Although there are natural remedies for constipation that can help, one must keep the detective hat on and dig even deeper for the root cause of constipation as well! This may range from mineral deficiencies to liver function to heavy metal toxicity to gut dysbiosis to thyroid imbalance and more!
Worth working with an expert? Yup! Test, don’t guess!
For me, I had mitochondrial dysfunction, thyroid imbalance AND lead toxicity. I’m a work in progress on all of them, but getting the bowels moving regularly is of utmost importance to detox from so many things messing up my body! Supporting adrenals is also an important step on most women’s path to healing.
5 Practical Root Cause Solutions to Reduce Flow in Heavy Periods
1. Detox the Liver
Any methods to open up your detox pathways are going to be helpful to reduce estrogen dominance. Give your body its best ammunition to get rid of what’s hurting you!
Dr. Lori Rose shared great liver support and detox ideas with us in a Women’s Wellness series, including: cruciferous vegetables, dandelion root tea, onions, garlic and beets are some liver supporting foods.
2. Get Your Bowels Moving
Once the liver is filtering everything well, you still need a way for the toxins to get OUT of your body! This includes excess estrogen, even that which is naturally occurring in your cycle – because a normal cycle is an ebb and flow of estrogen and progesterone, your body needs to excrete estrogen as part of a normal process.
The only ways out are urine, poop, sweat and menstrual bleeding. Since we DON’T want more of that last one, we need more of the others!
- Stay hydrated. Making sure you are urinating regularly is an easy start.
- Avoid constipation. You MUST be having a bowel movement once a day at minimum, and according to Dr. Marisol, Queen of Thrones and poop expert, your BM should be as long as your own wrist-to-elbow measurement and take no more than 60 seconds.
- No antiperspirants! Sorry ladies, but deodorant to cover the stink is fine, while antiperspirants stop you from sweating, which you need to increase for detox. (Not to mention the aluminum which may cause other health problems.) There are even ways to increase detox via your armpits.
- Keep moving. Exercise should help decrease constipation and make you sweat more.
- For general detoxing, I would also recommend time in a sauna. I’ve been visiting local saunas but I’m hoping to get my own!
There are LOTS of other ways to detox and improve constipation symptoms and you may need to work with a functional medicine practitioner to help dig alllllll the way to your own root cause, but just knowing that constipation can impact menstrual flow, to me, is empowering because it gives direction. (If you don’t have a trusted practitioner locally, try SteadyMD – one monthly fee to talk to your doctor as many times as you want! SteadyMD docs can order testing and help you determine root cause protocols. They’re not all functional docs but you can request one.)
If you do suffer from constipation at any level, that may need root cause resolution itself. For me, SIBO was one of my (many) root causes that I had to address with the AIP diet and supplementation, before we even discovered my lead toxicity that I’m still working on. And then again, the latest research shows that a breath test may not be an accurate predictor of SIBO, which is what I did, of course.
Luckily, Lucy Mailing, the author of this article, was my coach, and what we did sounds like the very safe empiric herbal treatment in her bulleted summary at the end. (I love that her articles always have that by the way – I think I’ll do the same for skimmers!) 😉
3. Heal your Gut
It’s no surprise that a healthy gut is the foundation of a healthy life, but perhaps you didn’t consider before that the gut might be related to your cycle!
So much in our modern world harms our guts, and it’s worth taking a look at gut healing protocols and tips to figure out what you can do to support your gut health and heal any leaky gut issues you might have.
Free resource: Grab this amazing gut health guide related to SKIN issues from Lucy at Next Gen Medicine!
4. Supplement Vital Nutrients
As you’ll see in the video interview below, certain nutrients impact a woman’s cycle (and many of us are deficient in the same ones.
Some nutrients to be aware of are iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc and selenium. These are all vital to our menstrual and reproductive health. Even dark chocolate may help magnesium levels 😉 although most likely a supplement or magnesium lotion will be best.
Nicole recommends Seeking Health for vitamins. I checked them out and they actually have really competitive prices, and I see the magnesium only needs one capsule instead of 4 for what I’ve been taking! I’m ordering some now!
5. Cut Sugar and Alcohol
As you’ll see in the interview below, sugar and alcohol are two of the worst causes of all that we’ve been talking about!
They hurt liver function, damage your gut, and mess with your hormones (including but not limited to insulin). Nicole Jardim calls them “the two biggest culprits in our modern day life.”
Cutting out alcohol doesn’t really need a game plan, although if you prefer to drink some wine but seek a lower alcohol and sugar content, Dry Farm Wines are the way to go. They’re keto-approved, always 12% alcohol and lower, no added chemicals and lab-tested to have no glyphosate and more. Plus it’s expensive, so you’ll drink less. 😉
Ditching sugar is harder for a lot of people. Education is first – why is white sugar so bad for you?
Then you may need to wean yourself off sweet things slowly OR try a reset like a Whole30 (see my Whole30 meal plans for help) or a sugar detox challenge to curb your cravings and change your tastebuds.
I guarantee it’s possible to change those tastebuds as I’ve seen both myself and my husband reduce our sweet tooth cravings. Him more than me – he used to drink multiple soda pops every day and now isn’t even interested in candy or processed desserts. Except for ice cream. That one gets both of us!
Bonus! If you can stem the flow of your heavy periods by root cause solutions, you might also kick your hormonal acne that you thought was part of the bargain of being a woman.
Here’s more on naturally getting rid of acne from the functional coach who helped me dig into my root causes (more on my whooooole story later).
I am always grateful for the community at Kitchen Stewardship – it’s like having the smartest natural moms in the world all living right next door. I’ve compiled the best natural remedies for 12 of the most commonly discussed ailments here at KS, and am making this resource available for free to all my readers!
Imagine this ebook as a virtual chat over the backyard fence with your own neighbor, a wise older mom who raised a bunch of kids with intention, trying to avoid unnecessary medication and being kind to the earth.
Natural Remedies for Heavy Periods When You Can’t Find Root Cause
I know, I know…even though finding and eliminating root causes must be our goal, sometimes it’s not that easy. Or it takes forever to figure out – or to work through and heal.
In the meantime, if you (or your family) need more instant relief from the person you become when you’re bleeding through tampons and pads like the burglars who left the water on in Home Alone visited your uterus, there ARE some natural remedies that you can use to curb the symptoms of heavy flow.
Vitamin K for Blood Clotting
Vitamin K clots blood, so it can be helpful the day before and on heavy days of a period.
This is the brand I take with my anyway, so I’ll take an extra when I remember. This was recommended by my OB-GYN. You can use the coupon code Katie15 for 15% off at Just Thrive.
My OB-GYN recommended I take chlorophyll drops during period flow, which I thought at first were to attempt to reduce the flow, and it might because it’s also high in Vitamin K naturally. But after a bit of research I realized that chlorophyll, like adding extra iron (red meat) to your diet in the early part of your cycle, is also intended to reduce the negative impact of that much blood loss by stimulating the production of red blood cells.
It’s not a difficult supplement to obtain, and I used peppermint-flavored drops in my water because it IS a difficult supplement to take (unless you love water that tastes like you licked a lawnmower). You can price check those here, here or here. You can also get chlorella in a powder or capsules from
This source discusses wheatgrass, which is high in chlorophyll and also detoxifying for a 1-2 punch on heavy menstruation. However, when your body hasn’t adjusted to that much nutrition at once, you may at first get heavier periods for a couple reasons, so use with caution!
A friend who is a fertility expert recommended a supplement for me which I immediately ordered.
I knew Slow Flow included Shepherd’s Purse, highly recommended for reducing heavy flow, plus Vitamin K, BUT I just noticed that it also has 5,000 IU of Vitamin A (as retinyl palmitate), which is more on my radar now that Mary is doing a Vitamin A detox diet. I’m not thrilled about that one, so I’m now on the hunt for another product with helpful ingredients and no synthetic Vitamin A.
This one is something I’d try, but again a reminder: Treating the symptoms of a heavy period/irregular cycles, even with natural remedies, herbs and supplements, should not be the final goal. Seek out that root cause, get your bowels and gut healthy, and watch your cycles follow suit!
Another powerful remedy for irregular periods, including heavy flow, is chasteberry, aka Vitex. It’s something that can do more harm than good, so it’s to be used with caution and under the care of a medical professional, but it’s also found to help increase low progesterone.
- How Chasteberry Supports Women’s Health (& Considerations)
- 3 Reasons to take Chasteberry
- Chasteberry for PMS (this article is PACKED with great info on cycles and hormones in general!)
- Side Effects and Precautions
As I worked with my health coach on my SIBO, thyroid imbalance and mineral deficiencies, something amazing started happening. My cycles became regular and my terrible, heavy periods lightened up! I thought, “It’s a miracle, I’m healed!!”
Then I finished a round of supplements that was a botanical anti-pathogenic protocol, and YIKES – breakthrough bleeding, long cycle, terrible period!
Lucy and I figured out (well, Lucy did!) that the compound berberine, a small ingredient in just one of the supplements I was taking, was probably what had helped.
This is the brand I take, 3 per day with meals at first, now I take just one per day whenever (with my regular supplements) and I’m mostly staying regular and have MUCH lighter periods. Whenever I get lazy on supplements and skip them entirely more than once per week, I do start to see issues like breakthrough bleeding, longer cycles, shorter luteal phases and heavier, longer periods.
The good news is I know it’s working. The bad news is I know my root causes aren’t resolved yet!
I’m a work in progress, but I sure hope that these solutions can be a great help to some of you (and your families, because I think a heavy flow makes me crankier than PMS!!).
Speaking of PMS, if that’s a burden for you, Dr. Lori Rose’s guest post/series on KS is a must-read, starting with her diet solutions to stop PMS…
The Right Menstrual Cup for Heavy Periods
It also helped me to switch brands of menstrual cups (I still bleed a LOT more than the average woman but it’s much more manageable now), and this post was instrumental in figuring out what to buy (the Super Jennie).
If you’ve never tried a menstrual cup, first of all, you’re missing out! Check that blog for allllll the info you could possibly want. 😉
Should Iron be a Supplement Because of Blood Loss from Heavy Periods?
No, probably not.
I can’t go into all the specifics in this post (and I’m not qualified to) but Lucy is, and she wrote all about the dangers of iron supplements and iron fortified foods, along with some natural food-based ways to increase your iron.
Someone losing a lot of blood like I do/did in the first few days should definitely focus on iron consumption, just not supplementation, to avoid anemia and other problems with low iron. My functional blood tests DID show low iron, so I take a few Vitamin C capsules per day.
When I’m smart, I take them WITH high iron foods like red meat. This liposomal version was recommended for maximum absorption.
Vitamin C may also directly help improve heavy periods, double bonus!
Video Interview with Nicole Jardim, “The Period Girl”
If you can’t see the video above, check out Heavy Period Solutions on YouTube directly.
No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!
Heavy Periods Video Time Stamp
- 0:29: Today I’m talking to Nicole Jardim, “The Period Girl.” We’re talking about what is considered a heavy period, what the root causes might be and what we can do about it.
- 1:04: We go over what a heavy period looks like. A heavy period can be really unmanageable as you try to go about your daily life. Some symptoms of a heavy period include: bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days, you have to change your pad/tampon/period underwear more than every 2 hours for the first 3 days, you’re emptying a full (30 mL) menstrual cup more than twice a day, you need a pad and a tampon together, you need to get up in the middle of the night, clots that are longer than 1 inch, and exhaustion or anemia in conjunction with your period.
- 2:34: A normal period occurs every 25-35 days and lasts for 3-7 days. The average blood loss is about 35-50 mL. That’s about 6-10 fully soaked pads or tampons.
- 4:09: In the teenage years and during perimenopause heavy bleeding is more common.
- 5:15: Estrogen dominance stimulates the growth of the uterine lining which causes heavy periods.
- 5:46: Thyroid function impacts estrogen and progesterone levels. If you have thyroid imbalance you can have heavier periods. A full thyroid panel includes TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies. This will give you a clearer picture of your thyroid health than the standard thyroid panel most doctors will order.
- 6:20: Some of the other symptoms of an estrogen/progesterone imbalance include: clots, endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, breast tenderness, menstrual migraines, or period pain.
Sugar and alcohol are the two biggest culprits in our modern day life. -Nicole Jardim
- 7:10: There are conditions like blood clotting disorders, hemophilia, and Von Willebrand’s disease that can be linked to heavy periods including flooding. Nicole recommends that you get tested if you think you may have a more serious condition leading to your heavy periods.
- 7:42: The first step is to figure out what your root cause may be. Talk to your doctor to see what tests can be done to see if you have a condition such as endometriosis.
- 8:46: Liver health is vital to hormone balance. One of the roles of the liver is to detox excess estrogen. If it’s overtaxed through environmental toxins, food, medications, or alcohol it will have a harder time doing its job. Cruciferous vegetables, dandelion root tea, onions, garlic and beets are some liver supporting foods.
We need to focus on liver loving foods. -Nicole Jardim
- 10:03: Once estrogen is cleaned out by the liver, it goes into the gut to be removed from the body. If you’re constipated, it could be reabsorbed through your gut. You should be having a bowel movement at least once a day to get the estrogen out. There’s an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase which causes estrogen to be reabsorbed. If you have high levels then you may have an issue with estrogen dominance. Supplemental calcium deglucerate can help keep the beta-glucuronidase in check.
Most women who have hormonal problems have gut health issues, because it’s all connected. -Nicole Jardim
- 11:49: Some nutrients to be aware of are: iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc and selenium. These are all vital to our menstrual and reproductive health.
- 13:04: Nicole recommends Seeking Health for vitamins. Holy cow, they actually have really competitive prices, and I see the magnesium only needs one capsule instead of 4 for what I’ve been taking! I’m ordering some now!
- 13:57: If you’re working on your gut health and liver function to improve your periods, you’ll likely see improvement in other areas of your life as well. Everything is connected!
We can start to make small changes that are going to result in huge benefits. -Nicole Jardim
What All This Means (The Heavy Period Summary for Skimmers)
Get the skim notes on the whole post here!
- Heavy periods include ANY of the following: last more than 7 days, more than 2 menstrual cups per day, tampons and pads together are needed, soaking through those in 2 hours or less.
- Estrogen dominance is a huge root cause of heavy periods, which often has its own root cause.
- To reduce estrogen dominance, detoxing, healing constipation, and supporting the liver are key.
- Healing your gut, supplementing vital nutrients and cutting sugar and alcohol should also help.
- If you can’t find root cause (yet), there are supplemental options to reduce heavy flow like Vitamin K, chlorophyll, chasteberry, Shepherd’s Purse and Berberine.
And if you find yourself feeling “period jealousy” because a friend’s flow seems more manageable than yours…I’m hoping you can make the shift using these recommendations so that you can feel “period gratitude” when yours begins to improve!
More Resources from Nicole
- Period Quiz
- Fix Your Period Programs
- Blog Post on Natural Period Pain Solutions
- What is a Healthy Menstrual Cycle?