Going Against the Flow

Menstrual bleeding negatively impacts quality of life in women worldwide

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Not very many women look forward to their period each month, especially if certain days are heavier than others. This feeling may be common in women around the world.

A recently published study showed that heavy menstrual bleeding negatively impacted many aspects of women's lives.

According to the researchers, the findings suggest that knowledge and awareness of heavy menstrual bleeding and how to handle the condition should be increased.

Furthermore, questions used to diagnose heavy menstrual bleeding should be better tailored to gain a more detailed insight into the areas of women's lives most affected by the condition.

"See your OBGYN to treat heavy periods."

Johannes Bitzer, MD, from the Universitats-Frauenspital Basel in Switzerland, led an investigation into women's attitudes, knowledge and beliefs regarding heavy menstrual bleeding.

The study included more than 6,100 adult women between 18 and 55 years of age in 15 countries around the world. These women were currently using or open to using hormonal birth control.

Participants completed a 52-question online survey asking the women how their heavy menstrual bleeding affected their quality of life.

All but two of the questions had closed, fixed answers covering the impact heavy menstrual bleeding had on participants' quality of life, their current awareness and knowledge about the condition and the interactions they had with their doctors regarding heavy menstrual bleeding and diagnosis.

Based on the survey results, 887 women were actually diagnosed with heavy menstrual bleeding and another 1,627 women reported they perceived having an above average menstrual flow.

The rest of the women were categorized into the below average menstrual flow group.

Compared to women who reported having below average period flow, a significant proportion of women who felt they had above average flow reported that their periods were problematic.

More women who were diagnosed or felt they had heavy menstrual flow said the condition impacted a number of different aspects in their lives, including relationships, social life and work with much of the impact negative.

Specifically, 68 percent of women in the above average menstrual flow group said that they tended not to participate in social activities when their period is heavy.

Almost half the women in this group said that heavy menstrual bleeding prevented them from playing with their kids. Three out of four women in the group also said they felt less attractive and confident during their period.

During heavy period days, 84 percent refrained from sexual activity. And 91 percent of women in this group said the heaviest flow days also impacted the color and type of clothes they wore.

Researchers also found that understanding and awareness of the condition among the participants was poor.

In total, 48 percent of the participants felt they were "not at all" or "not very" knowledgeable about heavy menstrual bleeding, and 35 percent did not discuss the condition with their doctors.

Of the women who reporting having above-average menstrual flow, 39 percent believed no treatment was available to them. 

However, as the researchers noted, there are treatments, including certain birth control methods, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and several other medicines.

"The results from this study show that significantly more women in the above average menstrual flow subgroup identified their menstrual bleeding as problematic in comparison to those women in the below average menstrual flow subgroup," the researchers wrote in their report.

"Despite the associated morbidity implied by these findings, many of the women in the above average menstrual flow subgroup may not undergo an objective assessment or meet objective requirements for a clinical diagnosis of heavy menstrual bleeding," they wrote.

The authors noted that the questions posed in the survey given to participants allowed only for restricted responses. In addition, women who were not open to birth control were excluded from the study.

The study, funded by Bayer HealthCare AG in Berlin, Germany, was published online April 23 in the Open Access Journal of Contraception.

One of the authors received research grants, served on the advisory board and was a symposium speaker for various pharmaceutical companies. Two other authors were employees of Bayer HealthCare AG.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 25, 2013
Last Updated:
November 7, 2013