“My Periods Were So Heavy I Had To Wear Adult Diapers”

From her first period at 13, Ms Laksmi Hapsari has suffered from heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB).

And for the next 25 years, the enrichment school owner continued to struggle with the debilitating symptoms of the condition, like painful prolonged periods that could last up to 15 days.

The bleeding was so excessive that at times, the 39-year-old Indonesian – who is married with a 10-year-old son – was forced to wear adult diapers to cope with the heavy flow.

According to Ms Laksmi’s obstetrician-gynaecologist, Dr Dharshini Gopalakrishnakone from The Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, while the average woman loses about 40ml of blood every menstrual cycle, those with HMB lose twice that amount and sometimes more.

Symptoms include soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours, needing to wake up to change sanitary pads or tampons during the night, bleeding for longer than a week, passing large blood clots, severe cramping that may lead to the overuse of painkillers, anaemia and symptoms of anaemia such as fatigue, shortness of breath and headaches.

According to Dr Dharshini, the most common causes of HMB in older women are hormonal imbalances, fibroids and polyps, but it can also be caused by other conditions such as endometriosis, where endometrial cells grow outside of the womb rather than inside it.