WHEN it comes to talking about that time of the month - most women avoid it at all costs.
Many are left worried and embarrassed because they suffer with heavy periods, even though they affect as many as one in five women in the UK.
And heavy periods are the cause of a staggering five million UK sick days a year, according to figures from Wear White Again.
However, it's key people open up about menstruation as it turns out really heavy periods can actually be the sign of a genuine medical condition.
Many women suffer with a severe period problem known as menorrhagia, which is an excessive loss of blood during menstruation.
And it can interfere with a woman's physical, emotional, social and material quality of life.
Despite this, it often goes undiagnosed - with 62 per cent of women failing to realise heavy periods are a medical condition.
Here, Dr Vanessa MacKay, consultant gynaecologist and spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists talks us through menorrhagia, when you should seek help for it and what causes it.
What causes menorrhagia?
Dr Mackay says there are several conditions that can lead to menorrhagia, including endometriosis.
She says: "In about half of women with heavy menstrual bleeding, no underlying reason is found.
"But there are several conditions that can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
"Heavy bleeding can also be as a result of blood clotting disorders, an underactive thyroid gland and diabetes and use of the IUD (the coil)."
When should you seek help?
Dr Mackay urges anyone who has a heavier period to what is normal for her to speak to a doctor.
She says: "If a woman has had a longer or heavier period that is significantly different to what is normal for her and/or if her period lasts longer than 7 days, she should speak to her healthcare professional.
"Heavy periods are common and can have a big impact on a woman’s life.
"There are various treatments for heavy periods, including contraception, medicines, and in some cases, surgery."
Can you bleed to death?
Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical director of Patient.info, has emphasised that menorrhagia will not kill you.
She said: "Heavy menstrual bleeding can make you feel unwell, but it is not going to kill you.
"The average woman loses about 30-40ml (6-8 teaspoons) of blood during a period, and ‘menorrhagia’ – the medical term for significantly heavy periods – means losing more than 80m, or 16 teaspoons.
"Since the average adults has about 4.7 to 5.5 litres of blood, and you need to lose about 20% of your blood (about a litre) to go into shock, you can see why this is not an issue.
"However, if you’re losing more iron during your periods than you take in from your diet over several months, heavy periods can lead to iron deficiency anaemia.
"This can make you look pale and feel tired and breathless.
"In severe cases it can lead to swollen ankles, dizziness and fainting."
What about ultra-short periods?
Short periods can also be a sign that something is wrong, and Dr Mackay says you may need to see a doctor if this happens.
She says: “Periods can change over the course of a woman’s lifetime.
More on women's health
"For example, a woman will have irregular and shorter periods as she approaches the menopause.
"In general, periods usually last between 3 and 8 days, with the average being about 5 days.
"If a woman has had a shorter period that is significantly different to what is normal for her, she should speak to her healthcare professional.”