Advice about Menstruation

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Heavy menses after giving birth

March 2008

Is it common to have major changes in menstruation after giving birth? When my first daughter was born I noticed that my periods got heavier, but after TWO kids, I have to use a tampon AND pad and still change every couple of hours. What a mess! And my period seems to last for 7 days or more.

Could this be stress or thyroid related? I was diagnosed as hyPERthyroid nearly a year ago and I've been taking low doses of PTU since then. My T4 and TSH levels are now normal but I've gained a good amount of weight (especially if you consider how much I lost when I was hyperT) and just wonder if this is somehow related.

Would love to hear if anyone has had similar experiences, what you did AND if you did NOT have this experience...just to gauge how common this is. (My OB wasn't a lot of help.) --of course I'm tired but what's normal?!?

I have no advice, but share a similar experience. My period has also been heavier and lingering longer since I had my second child about 11 months ago. I've been wondering myself if I need to call my Dr. I thought it might be related to the fact that I had my tubes tied, until I remembered that after my first child, my menses also slightly changed. I also have more intense PMS and seem to be more tired during my period than I recall being before. Can't wait till menopause

I've struggled with hyperthyroidism and being on meds as a result, and I do think that when I've been hyperthyroid, my periods are lighter. Conversely, when my methimazole dosage has been incorrect, causing thyroid levels to drop too low, I've had much heavier periods (more flow for more days). If your OB hasn't been any help, can you see an endocrinologist? I also do acupuncture to complement my meds--which has been a big help, if you can spare the time/money. Good luck. Anon

Yes! I had the same thing! After the first kid, didn't really notice changes in period (but I didn't have that many before I was pregnant again and was perhaps too sleep deprived to notice) -- but after the second kid, my nice managable period got really heavy. To make matters worse, I used to have a 5 week cycle and it went down to 4 weeks. My second child is now 3 and the periods have gotten lighter, though still not what they once were. - Just One More Change that Parenthood Brought

I don't know how common this is but I could have written your post years ago- same experience. Here is my story and I hope it will give you some insight and perspective. I am now 49, and my kids are 20 and 17. I suffered, and I mean suffered with increasingly heavy bleeding for many years, terrible accidents, flooding my bed and the worst part was the anemia. I was so anemic for many years. When I look back I cannot believe how well I functioned working full time, being very involved with my kids, running a house, travel, caring for my elderly mom. I wish I had asked for more help from both my ob/gyn and my internist. Instead I took iron for years (not fun, not even that effective) and grew more and more tolerant of severe anemia and the impact the heavy bleeding took on me. I became so anemic I needed blood transfusions. The symptoms were insidious and confusing...exhaustion, ringing in my ears, rapid heart rate, short of breath and really, really pale skin.

Finally, after reaching an all time anemia low, and bleeding so heavily it frightened me, about a year ago I had a uterine ablation (Novasure method) to stop the bleeding hopefully forever. A good solution if you are done having kids and late forties. I had NO fibroids. Everyone assumes that you have fibroids when you have bleeding, but it can happen without them. I always had a perfect looking uterus. My ob/gyn did a thorough pathology on my uterine lining when the ablation was done and the report came back as not good - very early cancer. I then quickly had a laparascopic hysterectomy removing my uterus and cervix. I kept my ovaries. If I had not done this I hate to think of how far that cancer could have gone.

Over the years, I tried every natural remedy on the planet. Heavy bleeding can be serious and anemia can really hurt your body, and your life. Don't wait, get help. Investigate the problem, have your blood checked, and hopefully you are fine, just experiencing normal changes, but don't accept that if you get worse and this continues for years. I feel very lucky now... I do not miss my uterus one bit. I hope this helps. Good luck to you. No more heavy bleeding

You don't say how old you are, but I think it's pretty common for bleeding to get heavier as you get older. (Though sometimes it can be hard to tell what your ''normal'' is during the childbearing years, as you go on and off birth control and nursing). Mine seems to have slowly gotten heavier throughout my thirties, but then started getting really heavy once I hit forty. The bleeding and clots are a real drag, and when I'm bleeding heavily I also just feel bad in an overall kind of way. My OB suggested that I take ibuprofen to decrease the flow --take it as soon as you know your period is about to start and continue throughout the heavy flow days. I've tried it and it does decrease the flow for me. If that doesn't work, and you're not planning on having any more children, then you could consider an endometrial ablation. It's an in-office procedures where the lining of the uterus is removed, and it is supposed to eliminate or reduce your periods. You can get lots of information about it on line. I also recommend the OB tampons in the very biggest size (Ultra, I think they're purple)--with that and a pad I can get through the night. another bleeder

I'm having the same problem (only needing more frequent changes) and it turns out the problem is probable adenomyosis (like endometriosis in the muscular walls behind the uterine lining). it is not uncommon around perimenopause and can sometimes develop following a C-section. it used to be that hysterectomy was the only treatment but I understand there are some newer surgeries and hormone therapies. if you think either of these situations might be the case or just in general it might be adviseable to see your ob-gyn and possibly have some hormone tests, a uterine biopsy and/or ultrasound done. in my case the blood loss led to anemia and subsequent fatigue. of course, you may just be having heavier periods. good luck and take care of yourself. cursed monthly

Hi. Last week, my OB/GYN performed the NOVASURE ablation on me at Alta Bates in Berkeley. It's the first time in my life without a period and OMG...what a difference and I don't miss it one bit!! I too suffered you like but more so after my third child. It got to the point that my menses was taking such a seroius toll on my body, psyche, and blood count, that I was severely anemic to the point of it being life threatening. Anyway, to make a long story short, I'd really suggest you look into and research the NOVASURE procedure I had and see if it's something you might want to do. There are different methods of ablation, which means, (catherization of the uterine lining). This procedure is also supposed to reduce your PMS symptoms greatly. I feel wonderful and I am so thankful and blessed to have had this procedure done. I wish you luck and hope you can get this done, too. Why suffer if you don't have to? Take care and good luck. No More Menses

Although I have always had the type of heavy menses you describe, it used to come every 45 days or so, and then after giving birth it has dropped down to every 26 days! Ugh! But yes, I soak through a super-plus tampon and pad in one or two hours on my heaviest days (I wish they made bigger ones!), and for two nights I have to wear two extra-long pads and put a towel down in my bed. It's a bit annoying, and I often take iron pills during my period to keep from getting anemic. But I am healthy, and I think it is fairly normal to have changes in your cycle after giving birth. It probably wouldn't hurt to talk to your doctor, however.

Menstrual cycle that stops and starts

May 2007

If you have ever heard of someone whose period begins, then, after two or three days, comes to a complete stop, and then resumes 24 hours later, would you please post and say so? Here's why I'm asking: My daughter has had menstrual problems since her periods began, two years ago. She has changed doctors at Kaiser, and been told radically different things by the three doctors she has seen. Two doctors (a pediatrician and an ob/gyn specialized in infertility and other problems) have said they've never heard of anyone having a menstrual cycle like hers (neither had the colleagues that the ob/gyn consulted). She was under the care of the ob/gyn because she turned out to have birth defects in her reproductive tract: a ''longitudinal vaginal septum'' and a mysterious blob of tissue in one portion of her cervix. The ob/gyn surgically removed the septum, and had an oncologist verified (visually) that the blob was not a malignancy. My daughter was then transferred to the care of an ob/gyn who specializes in young patients, with the mystery of her two-step menstrual cycle unexplained. This latest doctor does not think it warrants further investigation because, according to her, it isn't uncommon. All three doctors seem caring and competent, but I feel uneasy at the stark contrast between their views. If a period that stops dead, and resumes a day later is common, I'm sure some of you will let me know that, so I'm reaching out to ask. Anonymous at my daughter's request

I wonder if your daughter has fibroids in her uterus. I had similar spotting that gradually got worse over a year and ultimately became a (I kid you not) 2-3 week period with occasional interruptions. The condition gradually worsened over a year and I finally went to get an ultrasound, which gave me my diagnosis. Fibroids are fairly common in women - some estimates say that 1 in 4 women have fibroids. But, they grow slowly. They aren't cancer, but they are abnormal cell growths, and can cause the uterine lining to shed prematurely (i.e. before the end of the monthly cycle). Maybe you should have your daughter's ob schedule an ultrasound just to make sure. Anon

I am a mom and a health care professional myself. Getting numerous different medical opinions and a lack of difinitive diagnosis can be very disconcerting. But if you are a Kaiser Member, you can benefit from this health care system which is in a unique position to provide a spectrum of expertise, sometimes unfortunately not in as integrated of a fashion as it should. In your case, it sounds like a lot of clinical tests have been run and have not led to any obvious cause. However, it seems that the various specialties neglected to confer with each other to provide you with consistent conclusions, or at least effectively explain why their hypotheses differ for your daughter's period issues. My advice is to go back to your primary provider (likeley the pediatrian) and request a review of the tests and conference of all parties involved (or go to the MD you have the best rapport with if necessary). If that is unsuccessful, I would escalate this issue to the medical chief of the department with the request of a medical record review and follow-up. This process will hopefully resolve the disconnected information and lead to productive next steps to take. Sometimes it requires rattling the cage! Good luck. Linda

My first reaction to your message about your daughter's menstrual cycle was that it sounded completely normal within the range of possible cycles! My cycle is like that now, where I bleed for 3 days, stop for aprox 24 hours, then start up again (lighter) for another day or so. I am 43, but I think this has been my experience since at least my 20s, when I do remember having very light days between or after heavier ones. Wouldn't worry

My cycle goes for 4 or 5 days, stops dead for at least 24 hours and then starts up again for another day. It's been like this for as long as I can remember, though it took me many years of stained sheets before I could really believe ''hey--not done yet!'' I never thought to worry about it. I had some surmountable problems with conception (a short luteal phase) which seems completely unrelated and had a healthy pregnancy and birth. I agree that it's weird, but I wouldn't worry. I *heart* pantyliners

About 2/3 of the way into my period, I go approximately a day with no bleeding, then bleed (more lightly) for another day and then am done. It hasn't always been this way but for many years now this is how my cycle works. I can't remember if it was like this before children (9 and 4.5 years). I'm perfectly healthy and my cycle is regular. Hope this is helpful. another one

my period sometimes has stops and starts where i won't really bleed for a day or so and then go back to bleeding. it's not incredibly dramatic (e.g. i won't bleed super heavily after it stops) but definitely noticeable. i guess i used to it so it seemed normal to me. anon

My period's been like that--especially when I was younger and I remember discussing it with another young woman my age who said hers did the same thing. Her dad (an MD) told her that it was because she took medication on the first day of her cycle for cramps (naprosyn). I was also taking naprosyn on the first day of my cycle during the time when my period stopped and started. I'm not sure if the naprosyn thing is just a crazy story or not. Isn't there always an ebb and flow to the flow? doesn't sound that odd to me

Mine did that too. I think it didn't start doing that until I was in my mid or late thirties (by which time I also had endometriosis and fibroids - I'm guessing it was unrelated since my OB/GYN never seemed concerned by that particular symptom). Hopefully a bunch of people will respond and give you a better idea. anonymous

Yes, I have the same cycle. It wasn't always like that, started in my late 20s I think and has been like that for 10 yrs. I asked my OB/GYN about it when I lived in Boston - he was a clinical professor at Harvard Medical School so I trusted his answer. He said this is *absolutely normal* and due to the peaking of a particular hormone during that part of the cycle (unfortunately I don't recall which one, definitely wasn't estrogen though). I went on to easily conceive two children after that. So at least in my experience your daughter doesn't have anything to worry about. anon

Mine is like that and has been since the birth of my second child. It is very predictable in terms of when it starts and the pattern is consistent 3-4 days on, 1-2 days off, 1 day on, 1 off, last day. I've never mentioned it to my gyn. I've known a lot of people with odd cycles. I'm guessing you'll find others with this pattern. Similar

Not exactly like that, but yes, sort of like that. After the first day or two of my period, it will taper off to nothing during most of the day and then return in the morning. An acupuncturist told me that a low-flow doesn't always fall out, and that the build up over night allows the flow again. This lasts a few days. I should mention that I have always had unusual periods, but this pattern started after I had kids and it's pretty much the norm now. anon.

I have a cycle that's pretty similar to that, actually. Day 3 was almost always very light to sometimes nothing, then it would come back on day 4, sometimes going on to day 5. I've never had any doctor tell me this was abnormal. That being, said however, I recently saw a fairly cutting edge fertility specialist in NYC who believes that infertility is caused by bacterial infections (I'm 40+, trying to conceive.) He's controversial, some think he's a quack. I'm not sure what to think. But I did all of his prescribed antibiotic treatments, and my day 3 is back, for the most part. Still lighter than days 1 and 2, but it's back more than it was before. So, just some information for you in case you want to consider exploring options.

FYI, I am not completely infertile, so don't go thinking she has fertility issues on top of everything else. I'm certainly not a doctor, but if you ask me, her cycles are normal. What I've been told, having seen many specialists at this point, is that if you're anywhere from 24 to 32-34 days or so, you have what is considered a 'normal' cycle. But be aware that *every* woman is a unique case. What I've learned from seeing so many doctors is that knowing your own body is key. I would encourage you to teach your daughter to know her own body, and to sense if all is well or not. She'll know if you teach her to be in tune. And then, you must be your own patient advocate. If you think something is wrong, never stop pushing until you get an answer that makes sense and feels right. You are her mother, you have a 6th sense as to whether she is okay or not, I bet. Stay in tune with that, and both of you will be fine, I'm sure. Good luck to you! funky cycle girl

I'm 34, and my period does that sometimes -- not every time. It has been this way for the past few years. It was not like that when I was in my teens. It doesn't dramatically stop, but tapers off, and it starts back up less than 24 hours later. I now refer to it as ''phase 1'' and ''phase 2'' of my period. I'm very healthy (though I've never bothered to mention it to my doctor), never had any OB/GYN trouble. Hope that helps. Ahh, the joys of menstruation

My own period has pretty consistently had two stages to it. It often stops for about 12-24 hours and then comes back for another final day. It's annoying, but I've never really thought about it beyond that. I'm otherwise normal, 37 years old, no reproductive issues; conceived a child (who is now 4) without any trouble. Now I'm curious to see if others have the same pattern. It never occured to me that it was odd. Two-stager

Before kids, my period would often be heavy for about 3 days, then stop for 24 hr, then start up again, lighter. That was my usual pattern for several years. Hope this helps!

Actually- my cycle does this sometimes. I don't know why and have never found it to be strange- as long as it all takes place during one week. I have children and no reproductive problems. When I was younger, I sometimes would skip a period all together or only have one for 3 or 4 days. anon

On a regular basis ( for the past year) I have had a normal period for 3 or 4 days and then nothing for a day, day in a half. Just when I figure it's over , it'll come back for another 2 days. When it comes back, it's generally a lot lighter, mostly spotting. I'm 44 and have only got my ''real'' period back in the past 2 years, after having been on the pill for most of my adult life (aside from pregnancies and nursing). I just sort of figured it was related to getting older, so I'm not sure if my experience is relevant to your daughter's or not. Good luck. Hope all is well

My periods were like that when I was young..... you think it's all over, and then there it is again! anon

I have cycles exactly like this. Completely normal as far as I am concerned. The uterus is doing its thing to flush out all of the tissue. My 12 year old is also experiencing it and she keeps thinking that her period is done. But I remind her to keep a pad on for the final flushing that the uterus does. We have both been taken by surprise by this and stay prepared. Jeanne

My menstrual cycle has ALWAYS been like that! I guess I thought it was just the way I was, and I never thought to even ask the doctor about it. I bleed for 3 days or so, stop completely for a day, then 'taper off' for a few days after. I'm 38 now, and have 2 kids, so it didn't seem to affect my fertility at all. Good luck to your daughter... Shari

My periods stop after about two days and then start again. -Mother of a four month old anon

yes, sounds like my my menstral cycle. no worries

I had a similar cycle when I was off the pill following the birth of my 2nd child. My cycle has changed over the years, sometimes going like clockwork, sometimes irregular. But I did have this start-stop thing going for a couple of years and it was driving me crazy because I would spot a good deal for 2 days, it would stop for a day or so, then start again at full flow, taper off, nothing for another day and then 2 more days of light spotting. I was basically in menstruation mode for nearly 2 weeks. My OB put me on the pill and that regulated it completely and now it's fine - but I'm still on the pill. Not sure if that helps you much. Good luck! Always changing

Yep - it happens to me sometimes. Mine has acted differently at different times in my life, and I have definitely gone through periods of time when my period would stop and start in the same cycle, stop for maybe 8 to 24 hours and then start again. I've never worried about it and never had any problems. You might be a bit more concerned because she has other reproductive issues, and I can't speak to those. Who knows whether there is any connection or just a coincidence... anon

Well, my daughter has had an irregular period since she first got it two years ago (at age 14). Most practitioners say it's because she may not be really ovulating yet. Her periods go for five days then sometimes either never completely stop or stop and then start again but not very heavy, like heavy spotting. We are currently working with an accupuncurist on the problem. MY periods, however, are a little like what you describe your daughter's as. I have a normal flow for 2-3 days then it stops for a day then there is a little more bleeding until it stops for good a day or so later (I'm 45). You didn't mention your daughter's age, and with all the issues she has had, maybe it is just taking her a while to get regular? If her period doesn't last a really long time altogether then it's probably okay. If she's bleeding A LOT then you might consider giving her an iron supplement (liquid Floridex is good) and B vitamins. I don't think there has been enough studies done on young women's hormones and cycles, so that's why you might be getting these different opinions, people just don't know! Good luck. anon

Hi- Don't fret about this. Mine starts for two days, disappears for two then comes back for five -- every month just like clockwork. I could set a clock by it. Heck, I can usually predict the hour it will come! I started when I was 9 and am 32 now and have never had a doc think this was peculiar. All my paps and other tests have always been fine. I also have one child (3.5 years) so it isn't like I am infertile either. Relax and enjoy the random-ness that is the female body. :) on and off period girl

Hi- I just posted and forgot to mention that if it truly bothers your daughter, she can start birth control pills which will regulate her. I did that during the college years and then stopped when we tried for our son, and there were no problems. on and off period girl

that is my cycle exactly. consider accupuncture if your daughter is up for it. I think its a hormone thing. I also get migraines with my period - hope your daughter does not. me too

My menstrual cycle stopped/started very frequently when I was younger and not on the pill. In highschool - college every cycle had at least a 12 hr hiatus, sometimes longer and it's return was accompanied by the same cramps/discomfort as day one. I never gave it any thought and then by my mid-20's or perhaps as a result of being a near constant BCpill user, that pattern stopped. Good luck. v

That happens to me, always has (~25 years now). I've never talked to a doctor about it (it never occurred to me to ask), but other than being somewhat annoying, it doesn't seem to have caused me any problems. I got pregnant in my mid-30s twice, both times on the first try. anon

I agree with the latest doctor you have, this type of menstrual irregularity is something acupuncturists see quite often, including myself. More often than not people with irregular cycles are just put onto Oral Contraceptives, which often clears up the problem. However, what I have seen when women or young girls are put on the pill to deal with irregular cycles is that their periods often stop once taken off, or become unusually light, in addition to any other side effects experienced. My own mentors have described this to me as the reproductive systems becoming ''lazy'' because the pill did all the work for them. Acupuncture and herbs can lead to significant and life long change for women's issues, specifically irregular menses. It actually helps the woman's body to heal itself, rather than having something else work for it. Besides, having another professional opinion other than the doctors who are not giving you clear options or answers right now can only be beneficial. Good luck. Jill

I have noticed that ever since I got an IUD, my periods are different (I suspect because of the irritation of the IUD and because the string of the IUD is always there making my cervix more open). I find that my period will start with some spotting on day 1, go away, then maybe day 2 or 3 come on full strengh and heavy for about 2 days. Then it might almost go away for about a day and then come back lighter for another day or so. My own (non-medical) explanation for this is that the opening is bigger that most of it comes out more quickly...then remaining blood gathers and comes out eventually about a day later. I think using tampons contributes to this since it mops up everything coming out quickly. Then when it seems to stop, I stop using the tampons until a day later I notice more spotting as things more slowly trickle out. Anyway, I wonder if your daughter's cervix is not as tight because of the removed growth which makes a more quick, exit of the blood the first few days. And then a day later, the last stuff finally trickles out. Anon

Yes, I have that exact type of period. In my case, I flow 3 days, have a full day with absolutely nothing, then start again for 1 or 2 days. It has been this way since I started menstruating at age 14. I'm 42 now and it's exactly the same. It has never concerned me. I call the day off my ''break'' and am glad for it. Hope this helps. me too

My advice is to take your daughter to an endocrinologist. Menstrual cycles are controlled by hormones. It sounds to me like the start and stop is a case of hormonal fluctuation (a kind of 'stuttering') and an endocrinologist can tell you for sure if this is normal for her age. My cycle is like that, but I'm approaching menopause... also anon

My period lasts 5-7 days, and the flow does stop in the middle (or becomes very light). When it returns a day later, it is not nearly as heavy as the first 2 days. My periods have always been this way, and I have a healthy baby conceived within 2 months, so it doesn't appear to have affected my fertility. Hope this helps! Michelle

I'm decades older than your daughter -- 39 -- but my cycle is similar to that and has been for at least a few years. It's been pretty short for years and it also has that break for 1/2 day or so before I bleed again for a day. In my case I've attributed it to pre-menopausal hormone changes, and I know for a fact that my progesterone is pretty low (found out when I was trying to conceive and took progesterone supplements and had a healthy pregnancy.) Obviously your daughter isn't pre-menopausal, but she is at the other end of the ''menstruating years'' -- she just started bleeding a few years ago. I remember being told as a teenager that it was quite normal to have an irregular period. So, the upshot is that I wouldn't worry about it! You probably wouldn't be worried if it weren't for the other issues. anon

My menstrual cycle isn't exactly like that, but it does start and stop. Usually I get 3-5 days of bleeding, then stop for between 12-24 hours, and then another 1-2 days of bleeding. I hate it because I always get a false sense of ''yippee, it's over!'' I always thought that it was because of the shape of my uterus, or fibroids or something- just something about what part of the lining detaches when. I never found it a cause for concern, but in all honesty, I've never brought it up with an OB either. After two pregnancies, it seems that all is well with my system. anon

My periods have always been this way. I have heavy flow with cramping for two or three days, then barely enough flow to need a pantiliner for about a day. Then it comes back, ligther than before, for another 2-3 days. It sounds totally normal to me. anon

My cycle has ALWAYS been like you descibe, and I am 37. I have never even wondered about it- I just always know it is not really over till it is over. I hope this makes you feel better! sounds ok to me

I have often had the experience of having my period seemingly stop for a day or so (12-24 hrs.) and then continue as it tapers off. This usually after the first few days of bleeding. I've always assumed that the bleeding tapered off as the uterine lining sloughed off, so the first day or two are the heaviest, then a couple lighter days, then maybe a gap, and then a little more bleeding. It has never concerned me, and I've never inquired with my gyn about it. It sounds like your daughter's situation may be more complicated, but in any case, yes, I have heard of a menstrual cycle like that - mine. I'm in my late 30s and have had incredibly regular, symptom free cycles since I was a teenager. anon

It must be stressful to hear such different views from what is supposed to be an established practice of care! I can only speak for myself, but I went through a long stage where my periods would do exactly what you describe. In Chinese Medicine, there's a specific diagnosis for such periods, and it's treated very easily with a re-balancing of the cycle. I don't know if your daughter would be okay with acupuncture (my own kids love it), but you might consider seeing an acupuncturist. Good luck. Julia

My cycle is almost like that, has been for the last couple years, started around age 30 for me. Usually after the first or second day of my cycle, it almost completely stops, and then the third day it starts again kind of lightly for another couple days. I never really questioned it but I have had 2 healthy pregnancies and no known abnormalities in my repro system. hope that helps

My period is always heavy flow for 2 days, light for 1 day, then medium for 2 or 3 days, so it sound similar to your daughter's. For what it's worth, I'm 34 now and have had 2 healthy pregnancies. Same cycle

The first couple of years of my menstruating life, when I was a teenager, I had a period much in this pattern. In fact, at first I was stopping twice, then later just once, and then finally just had your average three day period for decades. Now that I am in my fifties and approaching menopause, I seem to be reverting somewhat to this earlier pattern. If the doctor who is most used to dealing with adolescents and menstruation says that it's not uncommon, I think you should believe him/her. These things do work themselves out sometimes. db

Hi, I have had a period cycle like that most of my life. The first day is somewhat light. The next day is very heavy. The Third day it completely stops. The 4th and 5th day it is light. All has been fine. On rare occasions, it will go 3 days in a row and then ends very lightly on the 4th day. I generally have a light flow compared to friends. I am almost 42 now, with one child at 40 with no help (other than my husband). Hope this helps. Anon

How to count menstrual cycle if spotting

April 2007

Which day is day 1 of my menstrual cycle? I have very regular and predictable cycles, but lately my period is preceeded by a few (3, sometimes 4) days of spotting. This spotting seems to consist of menstrual fluid, rather than some other sort of secretion. Since I am trying to get pregnant and am therefore interested in calculating ovulation (i.e. 14 days before start of menstruation), here is my question: Is day 1 of my cycle the day when spotting starts? Or is day 1 the first day of more substantial menstruation? Thanks for your advice. anonymous

Im a spotter too. When we went thruogh infertility treatments I always counted Day 1 from the first day of full flow bleeding.

That said, my spotting was indication of a short luteal phase, and we had real difficulty conceiving our first. With this possibility, and your mention of irregular cycles it might be worth your while to take some basic tests to determine whether there might be some challenges to your fertility.

I would also recommend using the ovulation predictor pee sticks and reading ''Taking Charge of Your Fertility''

BTW my short luteal phase seemed to correct itself after #1 was born, and Im now expecting #3. susannah

I would encourage you to check out Toni Weschler's book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Love love love this book. Maia Midwifery in Berkeley also does some advising on such matters. Samantha

I had a very similar experience. I had light spotting/tinged discharge for 3 days before full bleeding started. GYN/Repro specialists told me that the first day of full, actual bleeding was the first day of my menstrual cycle. I tested it with ovulation predictors and it came out to be true - I would ovulate 13-14 days after the start of full bleeding.

I worked with an acupuncturist and within about 3 months, the spotting was gone.

If you are trying to get pregnant and you are in your 30s, I learned that this spotting may be a sign of falling progesterone levels. I ended up needing progesterone supplements for the early weeks of pregnancy (this was facilitated by a reproductive specialist). I learned this after miscarrying several times, so to avoid that difficulty, I would suggest visiting a repro specialist anyway to have your progesterone level tested. They didn't think the spotting was a big deal, but when they saw the progesterone level was low, they were very helpful.

Please feel free to write with questions...I would be happy to share anything I have learned through this process. And good luck! sb

Painful periods and getting pregnant

Sept 2006

I am writing for a friend of mine who has been suffering from severe periods: horribly painful (she vomits almost every month from the pain), long (6-8 days) and heavy bleeding. AND she and her husband have been trying to get pregnant for the past two years, no luck. So, she asked me to ask all of you do you recommend a SF Kaiser OB/gyn to help with either or both of these issues? Or any Kaiser ob/gyn? Right now she sees the chief of OB/gyn at SF Kaiser and says he's fine but no good bedside manner. Has anyone had this problem before and were they able to overcome it? (i.e., Get pregnant and get rid of the bad periods). She is 38 years old and in otherwise great health. I think she would consider paying out of pocket if she can find someone to help her. Thanks! Concerned Friend

The endometriosis association (google them for their web site) has a list of doctors nationwide who specialize in what you describe. Even if her condition is not caused by endometriosis - the docs on their list are very interested in helping women discover the caused of painful periods and infertility and it is a good clearinghouse for lots of information on the topic from alternative medical approaches and nutrition right through western medical intervention.

One doc I have found to be particularly expert is Dr. Deborah Metzger. She is based in the south bay in Los Altos. She may also know who - closer to your friend - could take take a special interest in her difficulties. (Again I think google her name w/ los altos or the endo association will have her number) Alyson

I can't recommend any SF doctors; however some of the symptoms you describe sound like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Has your friend *always* had painful, long periods? Main symptoms of PCOS are obesity, acne, excess hair on body/face, irregular/painful periods. I recently discovered that you don't have to have all of these symptoms to have PCOS. Irregular periods can be enough (there's no definitive test, so her dr. would have to look at her blood work and make an educated guess). I have PCOS and had some difficulty conceiving. Metformin helped me in a short amount of time, however. There are several meds to help women with PCOS to ovulate (if that is, indeed, what your friend has). Good luck to her Steph

Your friend may have uterine fibroids. In addition to heavy periods and big clots, symptoms may include tummy bulge, stress incontinence, gas, pain in the abdominal area, and difficulty in urination. She needs to have her gynecologist order ultrasound and hysterosalpingogram (HSG) tests for her to take - (the 1st kind of test shows fibroids on top of and around the uterus while the latter shows fibroids within the uterine cavity).

Your friend should also ask for a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) (they're on the staff of fertility clinics - Kaiser included). Also, please tell her to seek another opinion if a doctor suggests that she should have a hysterectomy as there are other options that would allow her to preserve her uterus.

If your friend does have uterine fibroids - she needs to 1st take those tests to see - she may want to join the uterine fibroids group on Yahoo! Groups (uterinefibroids [at], where she'll be able to get recommendations from others with the same condition.

My gyno and RE are at Kaiser Walnut Creek; your friend probably doesn't want to come out to the 'burbs, but if she does, e-mail me, and I'll give you their names Marinela

No specific dr to recommend in those systems but she should get herself ASAP to a reproductive endocrinologist. I had similar problems and had laproscopic surgery revealing endometriosis. In the end I had to do IVF to get pregnant. Good luck!! Get thee to the RE

Dr. (Jane) Hirata at the Kaiser Oakland fertility clinic (752- 6893 is the nurses' #) is a gem. She is straightforward, helpful, positive and extremely informative. One has to have been trying to get pregnant for six months, and will need to attend a preliminary seminar (a 1 hour meeting), which includes doing a month's work of preliminary blood work, semen sample, etc. Dr. Hirata is up to date with the latest technologies, studies, etc. I can't recommend her highly enough. Anon

Dr. Janie Hirata is a specialist at Kaiser Oakland. I suffered many years of super painful periods (causing blackouts due to intense pain) and had trouble conceiving. She performed a laparoscopic surgery and removed endometriosis lesions. I was able to conceive shortly after I recovered from surgery. Since my periods returned post-partum, they have been virtually pain-free. best of luck to your friend

Your friend needs to see a reproductive endocrinologist. Tell her to demand a referral to Dr. Faigenbaum (RE) in the fertility department in SF. He should be able to help with both problems. It sounds like she might have endometriosis, which Dr. Faigenbaum has a lot of experience with, including both research and surgery. If the dr. she is seeing now is resistent to giving a referral, she should emphasize that she has been trying to get pregnant for 2 years (the standard time for referral is 12 months, and often 6 months for age 38). If her dr still won't give the referral, tell her to try seeing Dr. Terrance Jones (OB) for a referral - he is friends with Dr. Faigenbaum so may be more willing. - graduate of Kaiser's fertility clinic

I used to have fairly painful periods. I sought acupuncture for fertility reasons and one of the wonderful side effects before I conceived a few months later was that my periods became completely pain-free. I saw Leslie Oldershaw in Piedmont anon

I am very sorry about the troubles your friend is having. I had incredibly painful periods since I was about 15. It involved all the symptoms you described including regularly fainting. Taking very strong pain killers just before the pains started seemed to help. Going through that every month is tough and very much a concern when trying to conceive.

I was 31 when I got pregnant and luckily we didn't have to try for very long. The labor pains were only slightly more painful than the periods, so I think I knew how to cope with them better than I would have otherwise. The periods are now normal and completely painless. Good luck to your friend! anon

I am a fellow sufferer and I am 2.5 months pregnant. I started hypnosis with a clinical psychologist a year ago which helped give me therapy and relaxation techniques during my painful and long periods. I now use a combination of Western and Eastern methods which all work well for me. First, I start taking ibuprofen three days before I am scheduled to begin, which helps thin my blood so that I have less clotting and cramping. I also take an herbal supplement called ''PMS Support'' to help with my awful mood swings and irritability/depression during this time. Once my period starts, I take Chinese Cramp Bark pills (a natural substitute for ibuprofen) as well as PMS Support if I'm still feeling out of my mind. If the pain is still bad, I don't hesitate to take two more ibuprofens during the first four days as well. I use an electric heating pad. Through therapy/hypnosis, I learned to take the day off when I start my period and to avoid seeing people other than my husband (less stress = less pain). I avoid coffee, but I eat whatever I want because I don't seem to have control over my cravings. (People claim less sugar will help too, but who knows?) I got pregnant after six months of trying. I realized that I ovulate earlier than most women, perhaps from having such long periods (7-8 days) so tell your friend to get busy as soon as her period ends because she is probably fertile sooner than she thinks... Btw, my pregnancy has been tough. I have severe nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. My best friend, a doula, thinks it is related to my harsh menstrual cycles so once again, I'm working harder than most, but seeing my baby's heartbeat last week makes it all worth it! I feel your friend's pain

Hi, it sounds like your friend might have endometriosis. Has anyone suggested this to her? She should google it. I've had endometriosis for a long time, and I too, had trouble conceiving, but I did it eventually. (Ironically, getting pregnant will alleviate many of the symptoms of endometriosis, if you can just get there.) My OB/GYN isn't with Kaiser, but her name is Beth Matlock. Good luck to your friend! Amy

Tampons are, um, too small post-childbirth

April 2006

My question is a little embarrassing, so I hope the anonymous option is working when I post this. I have had 2 children in the past 3.5 years, both delivered vaginally. Since my period after the second child resumed, I have had problems with tampons. They seem to be, um, too small. Even the largest sizes seem to, um, fall out.

Is this a post-childbirth problem? Should I just give up and use pads from now on? Has anyone else experienced this?
Two Kids, Too Big

I am really curious to see what kind of answers you get to your tampon ''issue''... I brought this up in my mother's group years ago and was met by laughs, ashen faces and nods of understanding -- but no actual solutions except to do Keigels! That was three years ago. Do they work? Well, they helped somewhat. I have to use super maxi plus and get it way ''up there'' and usually they stay. Jogging during my period with a tampon is nearly impossible, so I ride the stationary bike or wear a pad now. My husband says he notices no difference (so he SAYS, but I believe him) so, it seems to be isolated to the tampon. I have just chalked it up to another post baby issue -- like my muffin top! tamponymous

I would talk with your Ob/Gyn about the possibility of uterine prolapse, or descent of your uterus to a lower place than it was before you had children. It's actually more common than you might think and can cause the tampons to fall out. Docs used to think it was a permanent change, but recent literature suggests that may not be true. anon

OK - I could have written your message. What an icky drag this is. I have no real solution for you. I went back on a hormonal birth control (nuvaring) that lessens the flow of my period and now I mostly use pads, not tampons. On days when tampons are a must I know that every time I go to the bathroom I have to change it. They seem to stay in as long as I do not pee but once I do, they get uncomfortable and start to fall out. Oh, and the size of the tampon does not matter. Regular and Super both give fine coverage (no leaks) they just don't stay in. Good luck to you! planning ahead for bathroom breaks

My child is six years old and my poor vagina never regained it's hold on tampons despite kegeling like crazy. I use the super plus size and they work for a few hours then I have to change it. I also always wear a pad for extra protection. I've been considering the vaginal reconstruction surgery but I've heard it can mess things up as far as sex goes so I'm hesitant to try it because despite the bagginess of my vagina the sex is still good. I'm sorry that I have no real advice just commiseration! anon

I've never been able to use tampons. They always hurt me. I used to buy natural sea sponges, the bleached ones...softer than the non bleached. About 2''-3'' in diameter aprox. I would tie dental floss on the end (thread it thru with a needle) so you have a string to pull.

It goes in really easily and conforms to your body (you may have to push it up there with your fingers to get it in further). When it's time to take it out, gently pull on the string. Since it's a sponge and your muscles may be squeezing against it you may get fluid on your hand, but your on the toilet, in privacy (well, if your kids are there you'll have to figure out something to tell them).

This worked great for me. If I was out I'd carry a plastic bag with an extra one (slightly moist). If I couldn't wash out the used one (it's a little wierd if there are people there in a public rest room), I'd just wrap it in toilet paper and put it in the baggy till I got home. A sponge would last a few months and then start to fall apart.

There was an incident long ago that someone went into toxic shock from using a sea sponge. I''ve NEVER heard of this happening to anyone I know, or knew of who used sponges. I never had any reaction. I tried the non bleached ones and they were too rough on my skin. These days I use pads cause it's easier and my periods are waning (I'm 53). Give it a try...good luck, anon of course

It is normal for the vaginal muscles to be so stretched out after birth that tampons won't stay in. You should do regular, frequent Kegel exercises (find instructions from your clinician or on the web), which may help prevent incontinence later. In the meantime, you can try inserting 2 tampons side by side. Women's health nurse practitioner

Hi- I'd try doing as many kegel exercises as you can and see if that helps. They're good for all sorts of situations. Good Luck!

I don't know if I have the exact same problem as you, but since having delivered my two children vaginally, I too have tampon troubles. For me it seems like my uterus has dropped, so there is not as much room in there for a tampon to fit, so while I use tampons during heavy flow, I also wear a pad knowing the tampon is going to leak. Not fun, but I haven't figured any way around it. anon

Your problem isn't unique. I had a similar experience, and sooner -- after the birth of my first. For me, it was not a ''falling out'' issue, but there was some leakage (and I, too, kept trying the bigger and bigger variety). So, effectively, tampons no longer worked for me, either. I did consult my gyn who said there is little one can do short of surgery (which is certainly extreme given that this is an inconvenience only), but that routine/ongoing kegels could restore some muscle tone and help minimally. I went the pad route instead, for the first time in my life. And it hasn't been too much of a nuisance. There are now very thin, unobstrusive pads available -- even for heavy days. Sorry that I don't have more encouraging words. But in the end it's a small price to pay. Anon

Have you ever heard of Kegel exercises? They are exercises that focus on tightening the vaginal muscles. You can find some information and equipment at Good Vibrations. This may help. One more suggestion is to go with a tampon that expands in width rather than length. Good luck! anon

Have you thought about trying Sea Sponge tampons? You can get them at natural health-foody stores and online as well. They expand to fit whatever shape/width you are and are completely natural. They are re-usable (just rinse them out) and last for about 6 cycles. Natural gal

Me too. Part of the problem for me is that I have way more flow than I did pre-baby. Also, a bowel movement can cause the tampon to fall out. But, um, vaginal size is also an issue. Try the biggest size of OB tampons. That works for me. Take care to read all the boxes on the shelf before you buy. Their ''small'' size is actually called ''super'' or ''plus'' or something. The names are misleading, but their largest size might fit for you. Tampon Tamer Tessie

Have you tried kegle exercises? If you have not heard of this, you can find information online: I know some women who use a couple of tampons at a time, not necessarily post giving birth. Our bodies snap back better in some ways than others, but I imagine you can work on this and its kinda fun as far as exercises go. anon

Diva Cup or The Keeper instead of tampons?

Nov 2005

I am thinking of buying a Diva Cup or Keeper to replace tampons. Anyone out there use either of these products regularly and do they work (any leaking?)? I've only seen these items on-line, any idea if they are available at any local stores? Thanks

I absolutely love the keeper. I've been using it for nearly 3 years and it has completely changed my relationship to my period. It's so much more comfortable and lower maintenance than tampons! It's not 100% leak-proof, but it leaks much less than tampons, and usually if it leaks it's because I didn't position it right -- taking it out and re-inserting it usually fixes the problem. It will leak if overly full, but if I empty it just before bed on my heavy flow days, it will be full but not overflowing in the morning.
Love my Keeper

I have a Diva cup and I LOVE it. It took we a while to figure out how to get it in right (there's an alternate way of folding it before getting it in that works for me). It leaks, but my tampons always leaked. I evangelize for Diva cup with my girlfriends at every opportunity. I love not putting tampons in the landfill anymore. It's so simple and easy. I also bought wool panty liners, I don't like the way they smell after a while, so I need to find something else.

Wow, somehow I missed the diva cup discussion. There are two options which are identical, except what they're made of. Diva cup is made of silicone. The Keeper is made of rubber (that's the one I use).

I find it very handy and easy to use. It NEVER leaks on me (how it's inserted may be an issue for the other woman who posted). It holds one ounce. Granted we all have different flows, but for me, that lasts 8-12 hours, and I only change that often for cleanliness, not because it's full. The only difficulty is you need to pull it out slowly so it doesn't pop open and all over the place.

I don't know why the other person who posted used wool pads?? Cotton/flannel works great - no smell. There are ''Glad rags'' and ''Lotus Pads'' among others, available online. Lotus has cuter patterns and boy do I wish I had those pads when I was a kid. I would have liked my period much more!
It's a Keeper!

Long periods with Micronor & nursing

June 2004

I am on Micronor for birth control while I continue to nurse my 17-month-old daughter (once or twice a day). My period returned when she was about 10 months old, and was fairly normal until recently. My last two periods have been really lengthy -- up to two weeks -- and very light on most days but annoyingly persistent. My doctor initially thought I had endometritis (not endometriosis) and prescribed antibiotics. But the culture came back negative and my next period was the same -- very long. Now he thinks that the Micronor may be messing up my periods and would like me to switch to a diaphram or other barrier method. Has anyone else had a similar experience with Micronor, or periods like this while nursing? Anonymous

I am on Micronor right now and am going through the same thing! My son started sleeping through the night very early and after a few of months of that (around 4 months), my period returned--only for a month though because he started night waking around 6 months, and the additional nursing caused my period to cease. He's sleeping through the night again now (10 months) but my period started 8 days ago and is still here $#%!. It is very erratic (I never know if I'm going to need a super or a ''lite'' tampon) and, like you said, very annoying. I don't know what to say except that you aren't alone! I haven't visited a gyn yet because 1) I just moved here and haven't found one yet and 2) I sort of chalked the long period up to the fact that I hadn't had one in awhile. I don't know if that makes any biological/medical sense but until I find a gyn, it will get me through! Ginna

Micronor is progesterone only and a very low dose at that. Unusual bleeding patterns are not infrequent with single hormone therapy. If you are not having very heavy bleeding, then the annoyance is more of a problem than blood loss. Perhaps with your ever-decreasing nursing now the hormone balance just doesn't fit for you anymore. Changing contraceptives is probably the best idea, to either an estrogen/progesterone combo or non-hormonal. Or just wait until you stop nursing and things will probably right themselves. anon

Has anyone tried The Keeper?

Jan 2003

Has anyone tried ''The Keeper'' or a similar device? It is a rubber device that is used for sanitary protection. According to its website (, it lasts up to 10 years and does not leak. If it works, it sounds like a dream come true (no pads or tampons, better for the envirnoment, less costly, etc.) Any advice on this product is greatly appreciated. Thanks. anon

Hi there, i have had the keeper for years and it is wonderfull. I most often use it when i go camping, (no packing any waste out), i used to use it all the time, but now i prefer to use a bandana or some other external, cotton cloth. It can take some time to get used to and You must be very comfortable with your body, and be willing to reach inside of you to retrieve it, not unlike a cervical cap i guess. I highly recomend it. cris

I have used the Keeper for about the last six months, and in general I like it. I don't LOVE it, but I like it as well as tampons, so the ecological benefits keep me using it. It takes a bit of practice to insert properly, but is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. It's basically like a reusable Instead cup, with the design flaws of the Instead resolved (easy to remove, not messy). I get a bit of leaking on my heaviest day, but I do with tampons as well. I also sometimes think I cramp a bit more with the Keeper, but my cycle has been going through some changes so the cramping could be due to other causes. I definitely think it's worth a try, considering the company's 90- day money back guarantee.

By the way, there are frequently Keeper reviews on the diapering board at (the board is pretty cloth-centric, so the idea of mommy cloth comes up now and again). Just sift through the archives -- you shouldn't have to look too far.
Hope this helps! Anonymous

I use the Keeper. I also have an IUD and my cycles are therefore way heavy (as a fellow IUD-wearing friend puts it, ''The floodgates have opened!''). I do leak a little bit and I don't know if it is due to my cycles or just the Keeper. I fortify my flow with Glad Rags, which I like much better than disposable pads -- they are much more comfortable. Because I use them mainly as panty-liners they work well. I do not know how well they would work for regular use. I do understand they have special nighttime Glad Rags which I assume can hold more flow.
A few tips from me:
1) Dry the keeper before insertion so that it will create a better suction/seal.
2) You may have to pull down, or to one or the other side, or turn it, before you get an adequate seal. Be patient.
3) Allow yourself some time. It will take a while before you feel comfortable using it as your primary.
Yahoo Groups has a group that focuses on the Keeper that you can check out ( for tips on how to use it well.

Oh yeah, the keeper is rubber so if you have a latex or rubber allergy you can't use it :-( Good luck! Anon

I've used a similar product, and it's great, but it's a bit messy, and very inconvenient if you have to empty it/change it in a public bathroom. You get blood all over your hands and the toilet when you take it out when it's full. Debbie

I haven't used the keeper but thought I might comment. I currently use a product called instead which is available at all the local drugstores. It is a cervical cap. A little bowl that catches the fluid rather than absorbs it just like the keeper. It is different because it goes up on your cervix instead of in the vagina. You can have intercourse while wearing the instead but not the keeper. It's great. However you are supposed to put a new one in everytime but they are a rubber similar to the keeper. What's the deal? They are quite pricey and every month I think why can't they just make one that I can reuse. It would be the perfect solution in my mind. Anybody in manufacturing? Let's invent it and start a revolution. anon

I've been using the Keeper for at least five years, and I love it. It's easy to use, comfortable, and it doesn't leak (except at times with super heavy flow or if you forget to change it, when a normal tampon would also leak). Plus, of course, it's economical and environmentally friendly. The only drawback, and it's a minor one, is that your hands can get messy when you change it. Denise

I don't have personal experience with it, but The Tightwad Gazette recommended it perhaps 10 years ago. I was curious about it too but never got around to buying it. Also, someone told me our grandmothers used these. I guess it's true everything old is new again! If you're interested, here's a link to make sanitary napkins: http://www.millennium- J12

I have used the Keeper for about 10 years and yes, it still looks like new. It took me several months, about four periods, to get truly comfortable with it. You really need to be committed and give yourself some time to get used to it. I love the Keeper because it is so enviromentally friendly and I don't have to carry around a bunch of pads or tampons. What follows is a little graphic, so please stop reading unless you are comfortable discussing menstrual bleeding. I have found that if the Keeper is in the wrong position it can leak. This seems to be caused, in my case, by not giving it a little tug to ''seat'' it after insertion. Also, if the vagina or the Keeper is slick with blood, it can move around and lose the seal. After I figured out how to use it properly, I almost never have any problems. The second issue you should know about is dumping it out. In household bathrooms, I dump it out in the toliet, rinse it in the sink, DRY the outside and rim, then reinsert. In a public bathroom, this can be difficult. I have learned that except on my heaviest days, I can leave it in eight hours, giving me the option of waiting until later to dump it. Or I grab some paper towels, wet a few of them, and take them into the stall to do the cleaning and drying. Perhaps you might wonder how I can say that I love this product, but I absolutely do. On light days I go from morning until evening without worrying about my period at all. This single cup has kept me from buying and using 10 years worth of pads and tampons. (On very light days I do use a minipad instead of the Keeper, though.) It's a very personal choice. I gave the Keeper to two close ''green'' friends. One told me later that she loved it, it was a breeze, and she didn't know how she could have possibly handled her period while traveling in Nepal without it. The other told me that it was unusable. Kim

i used the keeper for a couple years and felt great about it. i had one friend who's used it for four or five years i think and has felt good about it also; another couple of friends had trouble with leakage, and another friend used it for a few years (maybe five) and eventually developed some health problem (i forget exactly what it is-- maybe vaginal warts? i don't remember but could find out) which has been very painful and which she believes to be connected with using the keeper. she switched to glad rags. i don't know if you can base a connection like that on just one person's experience but i have heard from a lot of folks the belief that it's better to just let the blood come out rather than keeping it in with keeper or tampon or sponge. i'm going in that direction now myself based on my friend's experience, but again i don't know how common that experience is. anon

I have been using the keeper for 5 months now. I love it. It took three months before I could get it to keep from leaking, even so, it caught most of it. It is not the slightest bit uncomfortable (unless you don't snip off the end--see instuctions) and all my friends swear by them. I still use a luna pad at night because I am not comfortable with anything left in for 24 hours, but it is supposed to be safe. If you decide to get one, don't get too frustrated--it takes a while to get use to! anon

You'll find more than you ever knew you wanted to know about cups such as ''the Keeper'' and other products at the Museum of Menstruation at This site is fascinating. You'll find pictures, history, and safety information for menstrual products old and new, including those you used long ago (remember belts?), and the ones your mother and grandmother used. For extra points, find out what WACs were issued in WWII. Wow! (And the site seems to belong to man named Harry. Go figure.) Natasha

I appreciate reading these comments on ''the keeper'' which I didn't know about -- I've been using a diaphragm for years for exactly this purpose. Could anyone comment (now we're moving more into ''advice'' than ''recommendations,'' but oh well) on a comparison between the keeper and a diaphragm in terms of convenience, leakage, etc? discreetly anonymous

The Keeper & Instead: I actually went to graduate school at Johns Hopkins with some of the folks who worked on Instead. Because of FDA restrictions, they *had* to say to dispose of it daily. However, they themselves re-used them. (They also discouraged using someone else's for the same reason). I think the *planned obsolescence* marketing aspect drives the encouragement to dispose more than anything. In any case, I have used the same instead through multiple periods, I am on my second box in 5 years. I do dispose of them from time to time when I am in a place where I can't easily clean it, or when they seem a little dingy. I am intrigued by the Keeper, particularly as much of the commentary are similar to what I experienced with Instead (leaks at first, takes getting used to, awkward in public spaces, etc). Also, I think Instead is a method of Birth Control as well (but I don't recall the effective rates or even if that was what it was originally intended for or what they hoped it would be)...
Anon for the sake of science

Cloth Menstrual Pads

Feb 2003

All the posts on the keeper, reminded me that I have wanted to try cloth menstrual pads, but was always especially concerned about the effort involved in washing them. I wonder if anyone could share their experiences with these pads, brands preferred, how many needed and easiest way to wash them. thanks!

I dabbled with using cloth rags on and off for about 15 years. I mostly used OB tampons, and I never got into a real habit of using cloth until about 4 years ago. Incidentally, that is when we got a washer. Now I use them almost exclusively, and I have to say that I love using them. It just feels so much nicer to wear natural cotton against my body, and being Eco-minded, it felt much wiser to reuse rather than keep filing up the landfills with disposables. I use Glad Rags, and they come with additional inserts for heavier days. I keep an opaque plastic bag in my pack for when I am out and about, and I keep a small container with a lid next to the toilet at home on the days that I have my period. It is filled with water and some borax, or dish soap. My menses only lasts about 3 days. Once I am done, I drain out the water, refill it with clean water, then leave it in the wash room until I do the next laundry. I find it to be no hassle at all. Glad to use the Rag!

I haven't tried them personally, but the folks I got my Keeper from ( also sell ''Lisa Janey's cloth pads'' that look really great--and have snaps to keep them in place. I've also seen Glad Rags at the drugstore on the corner of the block Osento is on (in SF). Good luck! Jennie, a Keeper fan

Cloth pads are really easy to make. I made a pattern and make a holder out of flannel (snap or velcro) with 3 layers of hemp/terry for the insert. Email me if you're interested and I'll send you pictures. They are really easy to make - and many WAHMs sell them on the Internet (mama pads). I've read really good reviews of Pandora's Pads... Kathy

I use the night time Glad Rags at night and in the daytime. I highly recommend them. I find the daytime ones to be too small and a little uncomfortable since they tend to move around. I simply keep a bucket with cool water with 10 drops of tea tree oil next to the toilet and drop them in there when finished. I change the water once a day. Then I just pop them in the machine with other stuff at the end of the week. It is really easy. Far more economical/comfortable/ecological than disposable options. Siana

I use Glad Rags cloth pads and love them. I find them very comfortable, though a bit bulky (which doesn't bother me at all), and I love knowing that I'm not contributing to the landfill every month. I have fairly light periods, and don't bleed during the night, and I find that I'm able to use regular Glad Rags (as opposed to the ''night'' pads) alone during my entire cycle. They snap around your underwear, so they stay in place and prevent leakage, much like the ''wings'' of some of the disposable pads. I find that an immediate cold water rinse followed by a soak in cold water is all that I need to care for them. Sometimes I add a squirt of laundry soap to the soak. After they've soaked for a while (a few hours to a day or so) I wring them out, throw them in the hamper, and wash them with the rest of the laundry. Depending on how thoroughly I rinsed them initially, I may have to change the soaking water once or twice. The only thing I do differently is keep a small container in the bathroom for the soaking part, so it's really quite easy. I've had the same sets of Glad rags for two years so far, and they're still in great shape. For me, it's been totally worthwhile changing over from disposables. Wish I'd done it sooner. Tara

Better maxi pad without dry-weave?

July 2003

I've been a tampon user for many years. When I occasionally use a pad, it's generally the odd one I have around that came free in the mail. These seem to all be ''always'' brand of one shape or another. I find I don't like the ''dri-weave'' lining (or whatever they call it) as the plastic-y layer sticks to my sensitive parts and I end up raw after a day of using these pads. In contrast, my ''light days'' pantyliners are cottony and wonderful. Does someone have a suggestion for a maxi with a cottony top-layer or other less sticky layer so I won't be raw when I want to be comforatble? I read the recent discussions about the resuable pads, but I know I won't want to deal with the care. wanting comfort

I've tried quite a few. I like Stayfree Maxi best. It's not very thick and it's very comfortable. For a slightly thicker pad, I like Kotex Maxi. For very heavy flow or nighttime, I use Kotex Overnight Maxi. All are cottony. signed: go with the flow

I have been happy with the Stayfree super maxi with the ''cottony Dry Cover''. They do make a different pad with the plastic stuff, so make sure you get the Cottony one. Hope you find comfort

Try Kotex. When I was pregnant, a nurse at Alta Bates advised our birthing class not to use the Always pads postpartum, as that dry weave you mentioned is irritating. She suggested Kotex and it worked well for me. Kim

Have you considered using homeade washable pads. I switched to them and will never go back to the disposable kind. They are so much more comfortable, better for the environment and extremely easy to care for (really!). Just rinse, throw in a covered container (like a small bucket) with some detergent and oxy- clean, and when your period is over, wash them in the washing machine. I purchased mine from a work-at-home-mom based in Alabama. Her pads are called ''Prairie Pads''. I found out about her through ebay and her products and prices are the best around. anon

Like you, I don't like the way Always pads sticks to the body. And the ''wings'' are a pain to deal with for the occasional benefit of protecting your undies from overflow. I prefer Kotex or Stayfree, though I haven't used them since last year due to pregnancy/ breastfeeding. If you go for thin maxi, it should be fairly comfy. I also love the Lightdays. Want to be comfy, too

I'm sure you will get a ton of answers recommending this, but you should try the Keeper. (There was a discussion on this a few months back.) Though I didn't post the original question, I was moved to try it and have now used it for 4 cycles. I will never go back to tampons/pads. I can usually use just the keeper and a liner. There is a yahoo group for it, and there are actually 3 types of menstural cups now, Keeper, Mooncup and Divacup. They all have money-back guarantees. I'm a convert!

The natural pads at health food stores seem pretty comfortable to me (although I can't offer much of a comparison) and they are not bleached with Chlorine. Anon

Heavy Bleeding/Uterine Ablation

July 2003

Has anyone ever had any of the forms of uterine ablation currently done to curb excessive menstrual bleeding? I am 44, have two teens, way done having babies, so future fertility is not an issue. I have such heavy bleeding every month that I almost can't leave home those days and it is interfering with my work/life. I am also severely anemic and have to take iron x2 daily to barely stay even close to low normal. I've fought the tiredness and mess for years now and I'm sick of it. (Not ready for a hysterectomy, and can't take birth control pills, tried that several times and the headaches were unbearable.) So, the ablation is beginning to look like a good option. Anyone know about, had it, hear the good, bad or ugly? Ready for A Change

I had really heavy periods for several years and had no advice other than the birth control pill and taking tylenol during the period. Only when I was trying to get pregnant and was diagnosed as hypothyroid did it completely improve with the replacement meds I now take (for life, apparently). I'm a little annoyed that it's a well-known effect of hypothyroidism and no doctor had mentioned it. Could this be a factor for you? Kristine

You may have had this checked out already, but have your doctors considered that you may have a bleeding disorder? Von Willebrand Disease occurs in 1-2% of the population, affecting both men and women. According to the National Hemophilia Foundation's website ''When a healthcare practitioner hears of recurrent nosebleeds, easy bruising, heavy menstrual periods, or longer than usual bleeding after such routine operations as tonsillectomy or tooth extraction, diagnostic tests should be performed to rule out the possibility of von Willebrand disease.'' See http// for more info. Christina

have you tried acupuncture and herbs? in the past i've used a chinese herb that will stop menstruation, but probably better to see someone to work on getting in balance. i like marti lee kennedy, ashby at benvenue, 843-5000. good luck! peggy

From one heavy bleeder to another, you don't mention whether or not you have fibroids. I am the mom of a toddler who is perimenopausal and has fibroids. I will be getting an ablation later this week and will report back in a month or so re my experience. I can no longer take birth control pills to manage my hormonal levels due to high blood pressure concerns. My exhausting monsoon periods and ax-murderer-like mood swings have really impacted the quality of my life (and those around me), hence the ablation (it's either that, wait for menopause or a hysterectomy). Some women find relief via acupuncture, dietary changes, exercise/stress reduction. is a website re fibroid research--there are two studies going on in the Bay Area (one at Stanford, the other via a Kaiser physician). I'm interested in hearing from others. Good luck sister.

Dear Heavy Bleeding sufferer! I am a Licensed Acupuncturist/Herbalist/Nutritionist Mom who specializes on OB/GYN. First, let me tell you about Endometrial Ablation. Although it has become fairly popular for Abdnormal Uterine Bleeding, and is a better alternative than hysterectomy, its success rate in studies ranges from about 50-90%, so it is not even certain it will help. Also, there is immediate risk of infection, uterine perforation, or other complications, and studies of long term effects have not been completed. No one knows if it leads to increased risk of neoplasms (cancer) or not. Chinese Herbs are excellent for Heavy Bleeding. I would suggest that you at least give it a try before going the surgical route. I am not surprised that you are anemic! It sounds like you are in a viscious cycle, because this depleted state exacerbates the bleeding! There are superb herbs to, first, stop the bleeding, and then rebuild your system. This means probably cooking and drinking herbal teas for a few months. There are pill and powder forms, but I can not guarentee your pattern will allow it. I also consult all my patients in nutritional supplements. I have had patients who avoided ablation and returned to normal this way. I would be happy to give you their numbers for referrals if you wish. Please feel free to give me a call or drop me a line with questions. (510) 306-0067 Rhoda Climenhaga, L.Ac.