Can Food Make Your Period Heavier?
13 April 2023
If your periods are so heavy that they impact your everyday life you can use holistic methods to try and control them.
Did you know that your diet could cause your period to be heavier? From beetroot to coffee, there are some foods that are thought to be a factor in causing periods to be heavier and longer than usual.
You can consider your periods heavy - menorraghia - if you are flooding through pads and tampons hourly for more than a few hours, if you need to wake up in the night to change your period protection, if your periods last longer than seven days - menostaxis - or if you have blood clots larger than a ten pence piece.
If your period is unmanageable it is worth heading to your GP first. For some of us, heavy periods are just the norm and aren't caused by a medical problem.
It can be difficult to carry on as normal going to work, for a walk with friends, getting dressed up and heading out for the evening all the while knowing you need a bag of supplies, knowledge of available toilets and run the risk of leaking period blood onto whatever furniture you perch delicately - one bum cheeked - on.
Heavy periods can be eased by eating a diet rich in iron and Vitamin C, and sticking to foods low in trans fats and processed sugars can help to lessen their impact. Drinking plenty of water, getting good sleep and exercising will all help to make your periods easier to manage.
Start to eat consciously, thinking of minimising the impact of your diet on your period during your luteal phase of your cycle after you have ovulated, hormones will dip and you will be preparing to bleed. Nourish your body with the nutrients that it needs to replace lost resources. Kaz Le Mac explored this in her book 'Foods that cause menostaxis : My experience'.
Foods That Cause Heavy Periods
Some foods increase body temperature and blood flow and are thought to contribute to heavier, longer periods
- Beetroot - causes improved blood circulation as it raises haemoglobin levels
- Honey - increases body temperature which increases blood flow
- Jaggery (natural brown sugar) - another heat inducing food
- Coffee - caffeine stimulates the gut and uterus
- Chocolate - can induce periods but can also help with menstrual cramps
- Papaya - is thought to bring on your menstrual cycle if you have irregular periods and constricts the uterine muscles to control bleeding
These foods only need to be avoided in the run up to your period, not all the time.
In some instances a person may want to increase blood flow if they have irregular periods and light menstrual flow and they are trying to conceive or to regulate hormones, they should eat more of these foods during the luteal phase of their cycle.
Period pants and reusable pads can help keep your period costs down if you go through lots of disposables and will help your carbon footprint too!
"Trialling period pants over disposable tampons and towels. I must admit I was sceptical as I have very heavy periods, but I was so surprised. I didn’t leak once with the pants and pads. Fantastic quality. I’ve definitely converted to the pants rather than tampons." Leanne Trustpilot March 2023
Best Food for Heavy Periods
Magnesium rich foods to improve heavy periods
Magnesium relaxes the smooth uterine muscles and reduces the prostaglandins that cause period pain, when take with vitamin B6 it can also relieve period related migraines
- Dark chocolate (yippee) opt for varieties with low caffeine / high cocoa content otherwise can CAUSE increased blood flow
Iron rich foods to replenish oxygen carrying red blood cells
We need to replenish our iron stores when menstruating, to enable your red blood cells to effectively carry oxygen around your body. As the climate impact of meat is enormous opt for consuming more from the plant world where possible.
Iron rich foods for meat eaters
- Poultry - Turkey, chicken
- Red meats - Beef, pork, lamb
- Offal - Kidney, liver, pate
- Deli meats
- Fish - salmon, shellfish, sardines, tuna
Iron rich foods for vegans and vegetarians
- Dark green leafy vegetables - Spinach, chard, kale, broccoli
- Beans - chickpeas, edamame, kidney, pinto
- Iron fortified cereals, breads and pastas
- Dried fruits - raisins, apricots, prunes
Hormone balancing foods to shorten periods
Foods can help to balance out your hormones. Vitamin B6 is thought to increase progesterone so may shorten your period.
- Nutritional yeast
- Fennel, raspberry leaf, ginger teas
- Spices like cinammon and turmeric have a healing effect on the body and can help balance hormones
Foods That Help with Period Cramps
Vitamin E rich foods improve dysmenorrhea (period pain). Prostaglandins are thought to cause period pain so reducing these can help
- Sunflower seeds
- Vegetable oils
- Green veggies - spinach broccoli
The saturated fats in junk food and dairy products are thought to increase inflammation so could increase cramps.
- Bananas - potassium, magnesium and Vit B6 to reduce bloating and cramping
- Ginger - has anti-inflammatory properties
Always speak to a doctor if you’re concerned about your period.
If you enjoyed this blog you may like -
How to cope with heavy periods during perimenopause
Do period pants work for heavy periods?
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As always, if you're unsure of what you need to make the switch to reusable sanitary products and period pads, please do drop the team a line or use the online chat function. The team all use the products themselves and just LOVE to chat pee poo and periods, all day long, nothing is TMI and we all love to overshare based on our own experiences...
About the Author: Kirstin Scriven is part of the Customer Experience team at Cheeky Wipes, which since 2008 has been selling the original reusable wipes kit. She is mum to 3 and loves the forest, the sea and the hills!
Along with the rest of our crack team, she spends most days talking about poo, pee and periods and loves a chance to overshare. The business was recognised with a Queens Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development in 2021, celebrating their hard work over the last 13 years.