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Let’s Stop Normalizing Painful Periods

Too often, people who menstruate are told that periods are supposed to be heavy or painful. But the truth is that you know your body best, and you deserve care for your symptoms. We’re busting some of the myths around menstruation and sharing a few ways you can start to take charge of your menstrual health.

Myth: periods are supposed to be painful

Many people who experience period cramps experience discomfort and pain. Also called dysmenorrhea, people feel period cramps in the days leading up to and during a period. That cramp occurs when the muscles of the uterus contract to start shedding its lining. The feeling can range from a dull ache to more intense, throbbing pain. If this pain:

it’s time to get medical care for these symptoms.

Myth: heavy bleeding is “normal”

For many, the first few days of a period can be the heaviest, and this gets called “heavy bleeding” or a “heavy bleeding day.” Every person’s flow is different, but in healthcare, heavy bleeding is defined as soaking through one or more pads or tampons every hour, or bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days. You’ll want to check in with a provider if that sounds like your period. Heavy menstrual bleeding can lead to conditions like fatigue and anemia and can have several underlying causes. Bleeding that disrupts your day to day should be discussed with your provider.

Note: If you’re currently experiencing a severe or sudden onset of heavy bleeding (for example, saturating more than one pad or tampon an hour for more than 3 hours), you should seek in-person care as soon as possible.

Myth: any period that’s not on a 28-day cycle is irregular

The length of a menstrual cycle can vary from person to person, from 21–35 days. The 28-day cycle is an average, and a longer or shorter cycle isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. Your life stage, stress, and other factors can impact your menstrual cycle. An irregular period is when the lengths of your cycles vary significantly (by 7–9 days) when your cycles are shorter than 21 days or longer than 35.

Irregular periods can also refer to when you bleed very little, a skipped period, or spotting between periods. Changes in your bleeding or cycle lengths are signs to seek care from a provider.

Taking charge of your menstrual health starts with determining what your normal is. You can use a period tracking app on your phone, or keep a written journal to start figuring out what’s normal for you. Try to record information like:

Another way to take charge of your health is to practice talking about it. Speak with a trusted friend or loved one if you need extra support or help in describing symptoms that may feel embarrassing to tell a provider. Most people will be able to relate and have likely experienced a similar situation. A supportive friend or loved one will recognize that what matters most is how you’re experiencing pain or something unfamiliar to your body. If you’re feeling confident, gently correct someone if they dismiss period pain or repeat a health myth. The misconceptions around menstruation only make getting care more challenging for many.

Instead of treating periods as taboo, let’s try to see them for what they are: just a bodily function. Just like any other physical function, it’s essential to notice when it changes unexpectedly or interferes with daily life. You deserve to feel healthy, and to participate in the activities you love, even during your period!

If you’re noticing a change in your menstrual cycle, such as heavy bleeding, severe cramps, or irregular cycles, an Alpha Provider can help. All Alpha Providers are trained in Women’s Health to treat you with personalized care that is judgment-free.



Hello Alpha is a telemedicine company that provides instant access to doctors who can diagnose and treat over 100 medical conditions online, including mental health, primary care, skin & hair, and urgent care.

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