Fri, 12 May 2023 at 4:01 pm BST
If you’ve ever wondered how much blood you lose on your period, you’re not alone. No matter how heavy or light your flow is, it can feel like you’re bleeding a lot during your time of the month. But how much are you really bleeding, and is it as much as it feels like?
To find out, we asked Dr Nsisong Asanga how much we actually bleed during our cycles, and when to be concerned.
First up, what is the blood we lose on our period?
“The ‘blood’ you lose during your menstrual period is the shedding of the uterus’ lining. It’s a mix of blood, fluids and mucus too,” says Dr Asanga. “The amount of actual blood in your period is around 36ml for every 100ml produced, but can be as low as 2ml per 100ml and as high as over 80ml per 100ml.”
How much blood do you lose on your period?
“The average blood loss per cycle is around 30-60ml. That’s 12ml a day if you have a five day flow, or 2.5 teaspoons daily,” says Dr Asanga. “The average period should last for between three and seven days.”
If you want to know how much that is in a year, the average bleed would be between 360ml to 720ml, while over a lifetime the figure racks up to between 14 and a whopping 28 litres if you menstruate for around 39 years. Now that’s a lot of blood.
Dr Asanga adds that many people will have breaks in menstruation due to pregnancy or contraception, where you might have fewer or no periods.
Do people with heavy periods lose more blood?
Yep – it’s probably not surprising that people with lighter periods lose less blood, and those with heavier periods lose more. “A heavy period is considered as losing 80ml or more per cycle, or just under half a cup. This counts for around 8% to 14% of people who menstruate,” says Dr Asanga. “Someone with a lighter period might lose as little as 2ml in one cycle.”
How much blood do you lose on your first period?
According to Dr Asanga, there’s no standard amount for someone to lose on their first period. Some people bleed quite heavily from the start, whereas others might have a lighter flow. “Around 36ml to 60ml is the average for a first period,” she shares.
Does the amount of blood you lose on your period change over time?
There are a number of reasons why your flow might change, depending on what’s going on in your life. Bleeding stops if you’re pregnant for the majority of people, but Dr Asanga adds that your flow might come back heavier after pregnancy, but the amount of days you bleed could be shorter.
Your contraception can also affect your cycle: “bleeding tends to be lower if you’re using hormonal contraceptives, but can be higher if you have an intrauterine coil. Bleeding might also be higher if you live with certain conditions, like fibroids,” she says.
Did the pandemic affect how much blood we lose on our periods?
If you felt like the pandemic put a funk in your flow, you’re not alone. Many people who menstruate noticed a change in their cycle over the past few years and some studies showed that there were some changes in our periods, but Dr Asanga reminds that these studies were small and not conclusive enough.
When should you worry about how much blood you lose on your period?
A heavy period is normally nothing to worry about, but there are some signs to look out for. Dr Asanga recommends seeing a doctor or medical professional if your period:
- Lasts over seven days
- Soaks pads and tampons in less than two hours
- Makes you feel weak, tired and exhausted
- Comes with large clots or clumps of blood
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.