Let it bleed…

Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in menopause | 0 comments

I hate to start Monday off on a bad note but I’ve got some rather unpleasant news to share: the menopausal transition is pretty darn bloody.

For many of us in late perimenopause, this abnormal bleeding might come as quite a surprise. I was fairly certain that as my menstrual periods slowed, so would the blood flow. However, the bleeding appeared to worsen the closer
I got to actual menopause. It was so heavy, I would find myself going through super pluses every hour for at least a day and a half. It was truly as if the little boy took his finger out of the dam. To make matters worse, the irregularity in the amount of blood was accompanied by irregularity in the number of bleeding days, led to thoughts that often sounded like “I’m too old for this crap.”

Sound familiar?

Fortunately, this is normal. Indeed, in the first long-term (10+ years), multi-ethnic study of its kind, University of Michigan researchers found that among 1,320 ethnically diverse women (White, African-American, Chinese/Japanese), 91% reported that at one of their periods over three years lasted 10 days or more!  Nearly 88% reported spotting for six or more days consistently over their cycles. And, about 78% had three or more days of heavier than normal bleeding.  What’s more is that a quarter of the women reported having heavy bleeding lasting 10 or more days within a six month period. Common factors that appeared to contribute to abnormally heavy bleeding included uterine fibriods, use of hormone replacement, and overweight and obesity (i.e. BMI 25 to 29.9 and >30). Current smokers were also more likely than non-smokers to have three or more days heavy bleeding.

Over the 10 years of the study, the women, all of whom were either in early or late perimenopuase and were only, on average, 45, kept regular diaries so the information about blood flow and duration are accurate. (By the by, early perimenopause is defined by a difference of at least a week persistently over consecutive menstrual cycles and late, as the first occurrence of a cycle length of at least two months.)

There is a wee bit of good news for our African-American and Asian sisters, both of whom fared far better in the heavy bleeding department (African-Americans were less apt to report 10+ or 6+ days of heavy bleeding or spotting while Asians were less likely to report 3+days).

So, what’s the lowdown? If you are in the menopause transition, you can expect to have longer menses with more days of spotting and heavier bleeding. The down side is that experts don’t have much advice as to what to do about it.

No doubt about it; let it bleed.


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