Having your period is stressful enough, but when you have heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) due to uterine fibroids, it takes it to a whole new level. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. In the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, they found that a history of stress and depression was associated with an increased likelihood of heavy bleeding.
So, in honor of National Stress Awareness Day on November 3rd, we’ve got four tips to help you work through the physical and mental stress of HMB each month, plus ways to cope and treat it.
Make time to relax. Black women are heavily relied on—as employees, wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, and more. That is a heavy load to pick up and carry each day, so make time to relax your muscles. Before bed, sit quietly and focus on each muscle from the top of your head to the tip of your toes—breathe in and tense the muscle, then breathe out as you release it. Your whole body will feel the release and you’ll sleep sounder for it.
Get some rest. Speaking of sleep, each month your body goes through a lot, so you may feel more fatigued than usual. Honor that by getting more Zzzzz’s. Aim for 8 hours of sleep at night, but also add in a nap or two if you need it—your mind and body will appreciate the down time and leave you feeling more refreshed. If you are feeling especially worn out and are experiencing heavy bleeding from uterine fibroids, don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor.
Change your underwear. Take away the fear of breakthrough bleeding from HMB by making a switch to menstrual cups. These small silicone cups catch more blood than a pad or tampon, so you may find that you can go longer between bathroom breaks—and still feel safe and secure. And at bedtime, try period panties—they are way more comfortable than a bulky pad, which will help you rest easier throughout the night.
Treat it. There are a lot of non-surgical options available. Common medicines like ibuprofen or aspirin can help reduce pain, while possibly lightening your period at the same time. These medicines are sometimes called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). They can reduce the amount of prostaglandin—a hormone that causes pain and heavy bleeding—in your uterine lining.
There are also many prescription medications for uterine fibroids that target the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, and treat symptoms like heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure. While they may not eliminate fibroids, they may shrink them and the stress that comes from them.
If uterine fibroids are causing excessive bleeding—and stress—try talking with your doctor about the best ways to work through it.