It's honestly a miracle I have any bones left
November 29, 2017 8:48 AM   Subscribe

After years of a relatively drama-free uterus, my period now has one reliably, shockingly heavy day. Help me deal with the menstrual logistics. Details below the fold.

Over the past six months, day two of my period has become very, very heavy. Not painful, just, well, voluminous. I've taken to wearing a tampon *and* a pad, in the highest rated absorption Boots can provide, and changing both as often as possible. I'm still regularly bleeding through my clothes. I've destroyed two pairs of very expensive jeans. Just yesterday, while I was running around town for work, I had to leave my nice, long, cashmere blend coat on all day because my trousers were DESTROYED and, well, the lining of my coat had to take the brunt of it (praying the dry cleaner can work some magic).

If I was in a position to run to the bathroom every hour or so with a bag of sanitary supplies I might be able to handle it, but during a regular working day that just isn't possible, and I'm dreading the day I destroy some fancy Herman Miller chair at a client's office just because I can't sneak out during a meeting.

The issue isn't pain, it's just, honestly, the mess. It's just one day that's the issue, not the whole period. I'm a touch anaemic (unsurprisingly), but aside from that medically sound. I will be talking to a doctor about this in the future. I'm not on birth control and do not plan to be for Reasons, so a Mirena or the pill isn't appropriate in this situation.

My question is: what can I do, logistically, to manage the flow during a busy work day when it's tough to make it to the bathroom super regularly? Is it time to invest in a cup? Is there some kind of expensive sponge that can handle tons of blood? Get a pair of Thinx? Is there another blood management solution that I'm overlooking?
posted by nerdfish to Health & Fitness (36 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: People will probably recommend a cup. Adult incontinence products are made to hold a lot of volume and have more coverage than pads.
posted by bleep at 8:57 AM on November 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Oh gosh yes, get a menstrual cup. A Diva Cup is going to make so much of this headache a thing of the past. A properly placed cup + a pad is just near bomb proof.

My periods as a teenager were so hemorrhagic that I literally could not leave the house on day 2, and I weep for all the hours of life and happiness I could have had back if I had had a cup back then.
posted by phunniemee at 8:58 AM on November 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

I use a cup, but to be totally honest, I occasionally have those problems with my cup too on particularly heavy days if I'm not emptying every hour or so.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 8:59 AM on November 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

Yeah, in my experience, a good sized cup has the capacity of 2 - 3 tampons. Don't be tempted to go with a small size no matter what your age is, and whether or not you've given birth. Get a large size.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:59 AM on November 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

Is it time to invest in a cup?

When I first bought one several years ago, cups were around $50 each. Now they're literally half that. It sounds like you might actually spend more on disposable supplies per month than the cost of a cup - so you might as well give it a shot!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:00 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Prior to getting my IUD, I had this problem. I was never able to successfully use a cup, probably because I have a tipped uterus. They don't work for everyone.

My answer was the IUD, but if you don't want to go that path get an ultrasound for fibroids. If you've developed one/some that can cause crazy crazy heavy bleeding (another search term might be "flooding"). Treating the cause and stopping the crazy flow is the long term best case.

And, yeah, I used products designed for urinary incontinence. Not glamorous, but they work.
posted by anastasiav at 9:09 AM on November 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Please consult a doctor asap. Very heavy bleeding can mean health related things that you want to have ruled out.

Also, you could consider adult diapers as well. They can absorb more than any pad before leaking. Best wishes.
posted by Kalmya at 9:15 AM on November 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: agree with using incontinence pads, too -- they're more like diapers in their capacity, but they keep you dry and contain both fluids and smells like a pad. amazing stuff. I recommend Poise.
posted by acm at 9:16 AM on November 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Also came to recommend a doctor. I had a similar issue that was resolved through doctor visits. Also came to recommend hydrogen peroxide from the drugstore for getting out bloodstains, soak, soak, soak on bloodstains as soon as possible. Though it will work on older stains, try not to run through dryer until the stains are gone to your satisfaction. There is a small chance the hydrogen peroxide will lighten fabric, if it is already ruined it is worth a try.
posted by RoadScholar at 9:18 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd switch out the pad for Depends underwear/briefs. Don't go generic, the name brand are far more comfortable.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:18 AM on November 29, 2017

Definitely see a doctor, because there are medical reasons that can cause this and can be fixed. Mirena fixed my similar issue like a miracle, but if that's not for you - probably some combination of cup plus BIG pad - like a postpartum or incontinence pad - plus potentially adding in some so-called "period panties" that are themselves absorbent to contain overflows?

I went to the doctor after literally having to burn sick time because I couldn't be away from the bathroom for more than an hour without ruining my clothes, so I feel for you and hope you figure out a good solution!
posted by oblique red at 9:18 AM on November 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Seconding consulting a doctor asap. Is there any way you could work from home or otherwise take a day off once a month for this?

To answer your q, you might consider adding some of those period-absorbing underwear to your arsenal. Maybe a cup, plus a pad in those underwear would be helpful. Also, maybe set an alarm on your phone on those days to just change it every two hours? It's okay to leave a meeting for the bathroom. Sometimes people have to do that. Everyone can deal.
posted by purple_bird at 9:21 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've always had heavy period, and using a cup is awesome (I have a Diva Cup model 1/pre-childbirth one). On my heaviest days, I do double up with a pad because otherwise I need to change the cup every 1-2 hours. With the pad, I can get away with 4-6 hours, which makes it much more manageable (and if I can't get to change my cup, I'll just quickly swap out a new pad).

Also, your expensive jeans might not be ruined. Throwing my jeans in the washer takes care of most of the stains, even when I bleed straight through and leave a slightly bloody mark on whatever chair I was sitting in. I can see faint blood stains on the inside of my jeans, but can't tell from the outside.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:29 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was in Boots for a similar related reason the other and I noticed this next to the painkillers: - I’ve been prescribed this before for heavy periods and it didn’t work great for me, but might be worth a try.
posted by conkystconk at 9:35 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: 1) I was having a similar problem, wherein I was bleeding through the heaviest extra-duty OB tampons hourly on the worst day of my period. Like you, I had some bloodcurdling moments of shit, I can't dash out of $work thing NOW. Based on the SweetHome (now Wirecutter)'s reviews, I now use a Lena cup size large. (Amazon sells a sampler pack with a large and a small; I'm glad I started with the small but the large is more comfortable for me and it holds a SHITLOAD). Now, on my heaviest days, I empty morning, noon, and evening, and it works fine. I do tend to wear a liner for backup on the heaviest days, but after a bit of practice, I've learnt how to run a finger around the edge to confirm the seal, and that's kept me from having any major leaks. When I empty it at work, I don't wash it in the sink, just dump and wipe with toilet paper.

2) Hydrogen peroxide is MAGIC for removing blood. It works best on fresh blood; with dried it tends to not get everything around the edges. Just yesterday I removed an enormous nosebleed from my son's sheets with it. Came completely clean. You just have to be careful to pour it straight through the stain - after the hydrogen peroxide picks up blood it can transfer it to clean areas of fabric - but with a little practice, it's an invaluable addition to your blood-cleaning arsenal.
posted by telepanda at 9:42 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't have product advice but I feel bad for your clothing!

Note that hydrogen peroxide is REALLY good for removing blood stains, and it's cheap - usually just a couple bucks a bottle at the dollar store or drugstore.

Pour it on, let it bubble, rinse well in cold water. Re-apply, let it bubble, and rinse.
Repeat a few times til it doesn't bubble any more, then douse the area with a stain-spray that says it can handle blood, and wash in cold. The fresher the bloodstain, the better it works- get it while it's still wet if possible.

Make sure you don't put the item in the dryer. Heat sets bloodstains, and sometimes faint bloodstains are invisible when the fabric is still wet, but will show up later when it's dry. So air-dry, and if a faint stain is still visible, repeat the peroxide / stain-spray / cold wash treatment.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:46 AM on November 29, 2017

Best answer: Before I acquired a similar issue, I used to wonder who wore the old school thick pads. Turns out doubling them with an ultra thin one (night time highest absorbency) means the whole thing stays tight against you as a seal until you get to a bathroom and release the flood.

Yes, they're visible through tight trousers. And yes, get to a doctor ASAP. Could be fibroids, could be adenomyosis or other lovely things. And untreated, they tend to get worse with time.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:47 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding telepanda on hydrogen peroxide. Soak 'til you can't see the spot anymore. It can take a couple of days if the stain is old, but it works eventually. Wash in cold water, not hot.

I have the big Diva cup and change it every one or two hours on my heaviest day--but I always wear a pad, too, so don't have to be terrified about leaks. There's definitely a learning curve with the cup, and it may not work for you, but give it a try because if it works, yahtzee. It is onethousandbillion times better than tampons. At night I sleep on a folded bathtowel. On reasonable days I use "Glad Rags" but not with the original inserts because they're tiny and useless. I use unmated socks as inserts, and they work pretty well. On heavy days if I leave the house, I ditch the cloth pads and use an overnight "winged" pad.

Yes, agree, go to doctor to make sure it's not something needing attention--because this is a new thing. Mine's always been like this.

Cook in cast iron.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:50 AM on November 29, 2017

A combination of a large-volume menstrual cup (emptied hourly) & generic Depends are the only way I make it through the really bad days.
posted by belladonna at 9:50 AM on November 29, 2017

My wife went to the doctor for a very similar issue this morning, and was prescribed cyklokapron (tranexamic acid) to try to lighten her flow. Maybe worth asking your doctor about.
posted by Beardman at 10:00 AM on November 29, 2017

Best answer: can you describe the consistency of the blood? when i had this problem it was due to a combination of adenomyosis and huge fibroids, which gave me extremely heavy flow that was thick and slimy and extremely chunky, which the tampons could not fully absorb, and huge gloopy snotlike clots would literally slither down the string and all over my underwear. it also did not absorb into pads but would instead just sit on top of them like a gross blood slug until they too slithered off to ruin my pants and my life.

the human body is a horrible disgusting trash fire basically
posted by poffin boffin at 10:05 AM on November 29, 2017 [35 favorites]

oh but either way i think, if it's comfortable for you, a cup is your best bet, probably with a pad backup.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:11 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nthing Depends or similar, perhaps in combination with a tampon so that if you make it to the bathroom in time you just need to change the tampon. A lot of women use Depends for postpartum bleeding, which is often similar in volume to what you describe. You can also look around for any pads or supplies specifically aimed for postpartum bleeding.

(And definitely check with a doctor as soon as you can; this could be anything from normal perimenopause - depending on your age of course - to an easily resolved issue to something more that needs serious treatment ASAP.)
posted by insectosaurus at 10:17 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding tranexamic acid, you can get it on prescription from your GP for lightening your flow, you start taking it a couple of days before you need it, and it works (and yes, see your doc also so they can rule out anything like fibroids, polyps etc).
posted by penguin pie at 10:43 AM on November 29, 2017

Always make sort of discreet underwear (called discreet pants) both in the US and the UK. You can put your pad on the underwear and change it as needed. Because the material is similar to a nappy, it takes a muuuuuch longer time to leak.

I use overnight sanitary towels as well -- the thin ones are a joke.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 11:07 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

This might be kind of pricey, but I think it would be effective -- this new product called Flex. I used it for my last couple periods and was surprised by how comfortable and easy to use it was. I've always been put off by the idea of a diva cup but found this more appealing, maybe because it's disposable. Anyway, it lasted for me on a heavy day for at least 10 hours, so I think it could stand up to an extremely heavy flow for at least a few hours. They do cost a bit though.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 11:31 AM on November 29, 2017

Also, I want to note that Thinx are GREAT -- they would have to be a backup for something else you use, but definitely use them in place of your regular undies in concert with Whatever Else You're Using (a cup or whatever).
posted by Countess Sandwich at 11:49 AM on November 29, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks for the great advice, everyone! I'm definitely investing in a cup, incontinence pads and hydrogen peroxide (eugh, my 30s have come to this...) and I've also made an appointment with a GP. I'm sure my clothing/any upholstery I come in contact with is very relieved!
posted by nerdfish at 12:25 PM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

If a cup doesn't work for you and you don't want to go the Depends route, you also might try maternity pads - they are meant to catch all the post-pregnancy bleeding (of which there is a lot) so they are much harder core than even the thickest menstrual pads.
posted by forza at 12:33 PM on November 29, 2017

Oh, man I really feel for you. If you're still looking for stain remover recommendations, I can say OxiClean Max Force Pre Treater Gel Stick has rescued linens I thought were beyond hope. Check back in and let us know what your GP says!
posted by Space Kitty at 3:08 PM on November 29, 2017

So, I had a period similar to yours (I have endo) and a cup did not work.

It took two incidents of an overful cup leaking and making me look like a murder victim (in public!) For me to abandon the idea for good. People sware this is not possible, but it happened to me more than once. Basically my whole period would happen in the span of a few hours.

Seriously, birth control. It is the only thing that helped, and also gave me control over the frequency and managed my pain.

I wore diapers at night, during the day big pads plus superplus tampons and prayer.

I also unabashadly went to the bathroom and least once an hour. Sometimes I'd literally put in a tampon wait five minutes then change out my tampon because it would already be soaked.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:28 PM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nthing tranexamic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and a doctor visit. I had this exact problem on the 2nd day of my period, and it was a uterine polyp. Getting it removed gave me that day of my life back every month!
posted by raspberrE at 6:03 PM on November 29, 2017

I have ridiculously heavy flow and I found that the smaller cups aren't big enough - they overflow pretty fast, and they are also hard to position so they actually cover my cervix (I accidentally push them into the pockets to the side of the cervix unless I'm really careful.) I ended up replacing a smaller cup recently with a gigantic one (the Me Luna Classic XL).
posted by lollusc at 7:06 PM on November 29, 2017

(It's a bit harder to insert, but totally worth the learning curve).
posted by lollusc at 7:07 PM on November 29, 2017

I don’t want to panic you, but It sound like you don’t have an appointment with a doctor, and you really need to not put this off. According to (website recommended by my doctor), if you go through two pads or tampons in an hour for two hours in a row, you need to call your doctor or go to the ER. I have gone to the ER for this kind of bleeding and was told that was the right thing to do because it can be life-threatening. (More here.)
posted by FencingGal at 8:00 PM on November 29, 2017

Soaking in a reasonably strong solution of OxiClean (for a couple of days, even) is also really good for blood stains.
posted by leahwrenn at 11:06 PM on November 29, 2017

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