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It can feel nearly impossible to accurately estimate exactly how much you’ve bled during your period by just glancing at your tampon before tossing it in the trash can.
A regular absorbency tampon typically can hold 6 to 9 grams of blood, but you might not always fill up an entire tampon before you change it. Plus, you might not even use the same type of menstrual-care product to absorb or collect blood during your entire period.
To get the answer on how much blood one typically loses during a period, we turned to Lucky Sekhon, MD, a New York City-based fertility specialist and board-certified ob-gyn.
As Dr. Sekhon explained, the average person who menstruates loses less than 80 ml of blood during their period. That’s the equivalent of a little more than five tablespoons or a third of a cup. As a reminder, the average period lasts between two and seven days.
However, some people who menstruate bleed longer than seven days and may lose more than 80 ml of blood per cycle. Dr. Sekhon said this condition of moderate-to-heavy bleeding that lasts longer than a week is known as menorrhagia.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, two signs associated with having menorrhagia include changing a pad or tampon after less than two hours or passing blood clots that are the size of a quarter or larger. Cleveland Clinic also says that menorrhagia can lead to anemia.
Dr. Sekhon advises seeing the doctor if you are exhibiting signs of anemia to get your iron and hemoglobin levels checked. Signs may include weakness, shortness of breath, palpitations, paleness of the face, and extreme fatigue or exercise intolerance.
If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of anemia or menorrhagia, reach out to your doctor.