More than a quarter of British women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding are housebound each month, a study has found.
The study – the first of its kind, which surveyed more than 2,000 women between the ages of 18 and 55 – found that nearly half of those affected by heavy bleeding had to stop daily activities, and 28 percent said their mental health was improving. suffered.
The poll, conducted by women’s health company Hologic, also found that four in 10 sufferers find their periods “extremely painful” and 29 percent said they were unable to leave the house during their periods.
Heavy menstrual bleeding is defined as changing pads or tampons every one to two hours for more than seven days, during which time patients may bleed through their clothing or on bedding.
Despite the debilitating symptoms, the study found that 42 percent of women had not spoken to a doctor about the problem.
DIFFICULTY: Reality TV star Jacqueline Jossa, 30, says her period keeps her from working part of the month
Many patients have also claimed that their symptoms were dismissed by doctors, with three-quarters of women reporting that a health care professional told them their symptoms were normal.
This can lead to ignoring other conditions where women experience heavy bleeding. For example, painful endometriosis, in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, takes an average of eight years to be diagnosed.
About 40 percent of the women surveyed had been treated for heavy bleeding with the birth control pill, which can make periods lighter and more regular, although it can also cause side effects such as mood swings, nausea and headaches.
While much awareness has emerged about the impact of menopause on the job, little attention has been paid to heavy menstrual bleeding, which affects one in five British women.
Former I’m A Celebrity winner and ex-EastEnders star Jacqueline Jossa, 30, says she is unable to work for part of each month because of her period.
“Since having kids my periods have become unbearable and a real drag on my life,” she said in an ITV documentary last year. “My agent now books and arranges work around my period schedule.
‘Every month I disappear for four days. I call it “hell week”. The physical pain I feel when I have my period really hurts. They remind me of the beginning of the contractions.’
Eve Williams, a part-time teacher from South Wales, said heavy bleeding has “ruled her life” since she was 11 years old.
The 28-year-old told The Mail on Sunday: ‘As a teenager I couldn’t go out and see my friends when I had my period, but I was too scared to tell anyone why. I was humiliated.
“As an adult, I have not been able to go to work because I am in too much pain, which has affected my finances and my ability to pay rent. It has also affected relationships. It affects everything – it’s not just bleeding.”
She first went to her doctor to complain of painful periods when she was 16, but was told her symptoms were “just normal periods.”
Four in 10 of those who suffer find their periods ‘very painful’ and 29 per cent said they were unable to leave the house during their period
Ms Williams was later offered birth control to help control her periods, but ended up developing anemia as a result of the ongoing blood loss – a condition where the body doesn’t have enough blood cells to meet its needs. She was prescribed codeine for the pain and had surgery for endometriosis last year.
“Young girls need to know that heavy bleeding and severe pain is not normal,” she added.
Hologic CEO Tim Simpson said, “Too often women’s health issues are stigmatized – taboo subjects that parents, teachers and sometimes even clinicians are reluctant to discuss.
‘Women need the confidence and knowledge to talk about their period. It is critical that women are adequately educated about what constitutes a “normal” period and when to see a doctor. It is equally important that GPs are educated and trained in menstrual and gynecological health.’
Women with heavy periods may be given medication to reduce bleeding in addition to the hormonal contraceptive.
Checking for iron deficiency, a sign of anemia, is also necessary.
A spokesperson for the charity Endometriosis UK said: ‘For too long, people with menstrual health problems have not had access to the support they need. More needs to be done to ensure that the right support is available.”