10:33 pm - 11/14/2010

Weakness, lightheadedness during period

So I know this isn't uncommon, but I get super lightheaded and just... weak feeling all over when I get my period. It's kind of scaring me since I'm afraid I'm going to fall down the stairs. I make sure I eat three meals a day and try to get some stuff with iron in it, and I drink a lot of water and stand up slowly but it doesn't seem to help. I just feel like all the blood is draining out of my body.

I'm also one of those people who gets woozy at the sight of blood. :/ And I have low blood pressure normally so it's like the perfect storm of 'oh dear I think I am actually bleeding to death'.

I guess my questions are-

A) What can I do to help manage the light-headedness and weak feeling?

B) I know period blood is the lining and stuff, but is it also actual blood? Like, does losing period blood effect you like losing blood through a wound would? I don't know how to ask this the right way... I doubt anyone has ever 'bled to death' via menstruation or w/e but when I'm on the verge of fainting half the time I just start getting these paranoid anxious thoughts about how much red stuff is exiting my body and how I normally need all that red stuff in order to live.

D: Thoughts? I get kind of anxious about this.
ananasparachute 15th-Nov-2010 03:49 am (UTC)
I get light-headed and weak during my period, also. Some of it is from being low on iron during your period,some is from your fluctuating hormones.
Losing blood during your period is normally not harmful. The "blood" you are losing is a mixture of vaginal fluid, lining from your uterus, etc. It's not like bleeding from a cut or wound. It's a natural biological process that your body is designed to do every month. Unless you are losing an abnormal amount of blood (i.e. soaking through a large pad or tampon every hour, or passing clots larger than a quarter) or an amount that's abnormal for you), then you are likely fine.
I suggest you do some reading about your cycles. Here's an excellent resource:
It's called "Menstrual Cycles: What really happens during those 28 Days" and may help you out.
cellared 15th-Nov-2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link! I am woefully ignorant of my own body's functioning. :)
frolicnaked 15th-Nov-2010 03:55 am (UTC)
A) As a first step, I'd head to a health care provider (soon, if you're currently on your period) and see about something like anemia. That could certainly explain the weakness and the lightheadedness. I know you say you try to eat foods with iron, but if your hemoglobin levels are low, you may need specific iron supplements (either over-the-counter or prescription).

B) Yes, there is actual blood in menstrual blood. It's not completely blood -- as you said, there's dissolved endometrium and cervical/vaginal secretions in there too -- but some of it is blood. So while losing period blood (part blood, part other stuff) doesn't affect one exactly like a bleeding would (all blood), it is possible -- particularly if one is a heavy menstrual bleeder -- to experience blood-loss related side effects (pale and/or clammy skin, dehydration, anemia, low blood pressure, tachycardia, shock) from excessive menstrual bleeding.

Granted, those -- particularly the more severe symptoms -- are generally associated with pretty extreme menstrual bleeding and aren't something most folks will experience from their periods. But if you're feeling weak or lightheaded during periods, it's probably a good idea to get checked out.
archangelbeth 15th-Nov-2010 01:26 pm (UTC)
Agreeing muchly with A, and amplifying with an example: A friend of mine -- who is not a vegetarian, and probably was eating a "reasonable" amount of iron-containing food -- was recently diagnosed with a ferritin deficiency (which is apparently a different test than anemia; she had been giving blood that year without anyone noticing because the problem hadn't quite gotten to her blood yet!). She's been on prescription iron supplements, and was much less tired.
cellared 15th-Nov-2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
I... will certainly look into this. I've been tested for anemia a few times and it was always negative, but I still have the same issues. Thank you very much for your comment.
frolicnaked 15th-Nov-2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
Question: Have you been tested for anemia while on your period (preferably on about your last day of heavy bleeding)? I'm chronically anemic due to menorrhagia right now, and I get tested about twice each menstrual cycle, once during my period, once at about ovulation. (Well, I have a standing order for such. I forget to go some months.) We've discovered that the difference between my on-period and off-period numbers can be significant, to the point that the off-period numbers show normal hemoglobin levels while the on-period numbers show that I'm severely anemic. (That's the most extreme spread; it's not always so pronounced, but it is always noticeably different.)
cellared 16th-Nov-2010 04:24 am (UTC)
No, I guess not. I didn't know that could happen.
frolicnaked 16th-Nov-2010 04:32 am (UTC)
I think, by now, I have had so much weird shit happen with my menstrual stuffs that I have to put up this disclaimer: Just because it happened to me may not in fact mean it happens to other folks with any sort of regularity.

That said, if the hypothesis is that it's the menstruation that's causing the weakness/lightheadedness symptoms (whether due to anemia or something else), it makes sense to have the tests run when you're on your period and/or actually experiencing those symptoms. It couldn't hurt, and I know it made a difference for me in determining WTF was going on. :D
cellared 15th-Nov-2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the comment. It seems like the consensus is I should go see a healthcare provider. I also appreciate the clarification about menstrual blood.
gloraelin 15th-Nov-2010 03:56 am (UTC)
At this point I would really suggest seeing a doctor. It's not uncommon for a person to feel weak during their period, but AFAIK it's not "supposed" to be that way every time.

A] I would say to make sure you're eating a good mix of carbs and protein with a special emphasis on foods that contain iron, like blackstrap molasses and dark leafy greens. I would also ask the doctor about adding in an iron supplement, but do remember to up your water intake if you do, otherwise you'll wind up with constipation of the worst degree.

B] It can be. Most of what you see is the endometrium, which is a mix of the lining and the blood that's been building up all month. If you're bleeding a lot it's possible you're not healing the broken blood vessels fast enough and you're "free bleeding," just like when you get a cut.

Having a heavy period can and does affect people just like a wound that won't stop bleeding, so if you're bleeding through a pad or tampon in less than an hour for two or more continuous hours or getting golf ball sized clots, you DO need to be seen ASAP.

I really do hope you find some answers, since all this can be really frustrating and very uncomfortable.
cellared 15th-Nov-2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comment and the clarification about free bleeding. I definitely bleed quite heavily. It looks like the consensus is that I should talk to a health care professional.
treiale 15th-Nov-2010 06:51 am (UTC)
Just seconding the thoughts that you should get this checked out by a health care provider. I bleed rather heavily during my period, but I didn't think it was an issue until I had a blood test for constant fatigue and came back with an iron deficiency (as well as a vitamin D deficiency, which, depending on where you live, might be a good thing to get checked out simultaneously). As I have an iron-rich diet, the doctor is pretty certain it's my menses causing the issue, so I'm on iron supplements until I can get it sorted out with HBC.

I never really got light-headed during my period, but I'd go very, very pale and be generally sickly and lethargic while I bled. Considering that you're worried about falling down, if possible you should try to get it checked out before the beginning of your next cycle. In the meantime I'd suggest increasing your intake of vitamin C (which hels you absorb iron) alongside iron in your diet (but not supplements until you've spoken to a doctor or similar). Good luck!
cellared 15th-Nov-2010 07:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comment! Yeah, I get super pale and clammy and just generally feel like a limp dishrag, and constant fatigue is an issue year round. I'm going to call a healthcare provider I think, certainly before next month.
always_angel 30th-Dec-2013 04:47 pm (UTC)
I know this is an old thread but just found it. Orange juice can help also because your blood sugar levels drop some while menstruating.
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