Throughout your lifetime your experiences of menstrual periods will change. If you experience discomfort related to menstrual or vaginal bleeding, you have options.
Are my bleeding patterns normal?
Everybody experiences bleeding patterns differently. Try to be aware of your own body and routine, so that you know what is normal for you.
Menstrual bleeding relates to a reproductive cycle of hormones, ovulation and menses. Menstrual bleeding occurs when ovaries have released an egg (ovum), the ovum has reached the uterus and the uterus lining sheds, together with the unfertilised egg.
Any person who ovulates may be able to experience pregnancy. This includes young girls, older women, queer and trans* people. Menstrual bleeding has many alternative street names, including period, bleeding, rags or visitor.
Uterine bleeding is when the uterus lining sheds but ovulation has not occurred. Eggs (ova) may not be released for various reasons. It may be due to stress, change in diet, a medical condition, the use of hormonal contraceptives or menopause. If you experience uterine bleeding it may not look or feel the same as menstrual bleeding. People who experience uterine bleeding are less likely to experience pregnancy than someone who experiences menstrual bleeding.
There are ways to manage discomfort due to menstrual or uterine bleedings. Hormonal contraceptives can be used to influence regular bleeding patterns, reduce the amount of blood tissue lost during a bleed and reduce cramping and subsequent pain.
Some people also explore non-hormonal options to increase overall physical and mental health and to reduce swelling and tension during their menstrual or uterine bleeding. Each body will respond differently and it is important to find what works best for you. Non-hormonal options have been identified as they work for some people, but do not have the same scientific research to prove effectiveness as the hormonal options. Any changes in your bleeding patterns should be discussed with a clinician.
|Discomfort||Hormonal Options||Non Hormonal Options|
|Cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea||Consider:||Look after yourself:
|Irregular bleeding||Consider:||Ensure you have a healthy routine:
|Heavy bleeding||Consider:||Allow your body time to rest:
|Sexual activities||Consider:||You can still have sex providing you feel comfortable:
|Other||The full range of hormonal menstrual management options include:||Every person experiences menstruation differently. Use the resources around you:
How do hormonal options work?
Hormonal contraceptives manage menstrual discomfort by stopping ovulation whilst you are using the contraceptive. Stopping ovulation means that you no longer experience menstrual bleeding. Instead you experience uterine bleeding.
For most women, uterine bleeding whilst using hormonal contraceptives reduces the amount of lining collected in the uterus. That means less cramping pain and headaches. For some women no lining is collected in the uterus at all, so they experience amenorrhea (no uterine bleeding at all). Some women prefer to use hormonal contraceptives because they save money on pads and tampons.
When to ask for advice
Seek medical advice if you are experiencing a change in your regular bleeding patterns. It may involve heavier bleeding, bleeding in between periods, bleeding during or after sex, increased abdominal pain, or migraines.
Where to get further advice
Make an appointment with a reproductive and sexual health clinic. Clinical staff will undertake a thorough health assessment to understand why you are experiencing discomfort. If you are interested in hormonal options they can discuss your various contraceptives choices. If you want to avoid hormonal options they can discuss alternative methods of menstrual and uterine bleeding management.