If you're a woman with heavy flow, read on to find out how you can skip the monthly gusher.
Pop a pill
The first line of defence is taking ibuprofen. "Heavy flow is decreased by a quarter to a half by taking one or two ibuprofen tablets with every meal," says Dr. Jerilynn Prior, a professor of endocrinology and metabolism at The University of British Columbia. Start taking it as soon as the heavy flow starts, and continue for as long as it lasts.
Flag it with your health-care provider
If your symptoms don't get better, talk to your doctor. Be prepared to answer questions about how many pads or tampons you go through in a day, how full they are when you change them, if you have nighttime overflow or if you feel like you can't leave the house because your period is so heavy.
Figure out the cause
Your doctor will check your estrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormone levels to get a baseline and then send you for a pelvic ultrasound to make sure your uterus is free of polyps, fibroids or other lesions that could cause an abnormality. If the diagnosis is hormonal, not structural, your doctor might recommend hormonal birth control, like the patch, combination birth control pill or daily progestin-only pill. But, "if taking a 300-milligram daily oral micronized progesterone pill at bedtime for three months does not control your flow, it's time to consider a progestin-releasing IUD, like Mirena," says Dr. Prior.
Consider a surgical solution
If less invasive treatments don't work, there are surgical options, such as an endometrial ablation, a day surgical procedure in which doctors use heat, pressure, a laser or a sharp instrument to scar the uterine lining, reducing flow. (This is a great option if you're finished having children.) A very small number of women have bleeding severe enough to warrant a hysterectomy.