How can menstrual blood loss be measured?

In routine clinical practice, the number of pads or tampons used for each period gives an indication of blood loss, although some women may change these more often than others. Passage of blood clots indicates heavy loss. Some women require double protection which is another indicator of heavy loss. There are charts that allow you to indicate the number of tampons and sanitary towels that you are using and how heavily these have been stained. These charts correlate with more scientific estimations of blood loss. The recent development of absorbent sanitary wear tends to preclude accurate assessment with these charts.

Laboratory methods have been established for exact measurement of menstrual blood loss. All sanitary wear is collected and the blood is extracted and measured. This is unpleasant for patients and staff and it is only used in research. The technique proved invaluable in establishing normal menstrual blood loss and defining abnormality. Laboratory measurement of menstrual blood loss is regarded by the perfectionist as the gold standard in evaluating new treatments. This research has shown that the average period blood loss is 40-60 mls (8-12 teaspoonfuls). Some women losing up to 400 mls do not realise that they have a problem (500mls is about a pint). Other women may complain of excess loss when they are losing less than 10mls.

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This is the personal website of David A Viniker MD FRCOG, retired Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist - Specialist Interests - Reproductive Medicine including Infertility, PCOS, PMS, Menopause and HRT.
I do hope that you find the answers to your women's health questions in the patient information and medical advice provided.

I do hope that you find the answers to your women's health questions in the patient information and medical advice provided.

The aim of this web site is to provide a general guide and it is not intended as a substitute for a consultation with an appropriate specialist in respect of individual care and treatment.

David Viniker retired from active clinical practice in 2012.
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