Painful cramps, emotional distress, and many other unpleasant symptoms related to menstruation are so common and experienced by most women that we sometimes think it’s just the norm. Should you be concerned? What are the symptoms of menstrual disorders? What are the preventive measures we can take?
What are Menstrual Disorders?
Menstrual disorders are unmanageable physiological and/or emotional symptoms that can happen before or after your period. This means it can disrupt a woman’s life in serious ways. An absence of menstruation may indicate a menstrual disorder. However, it can also include periods that come sooner than 21 days apart. There are various types of menstrual disorders. Menstrual problems, however, are not impossible to treat. With proper care and treatment, relief from these troublesome symptoms can be achieved.
Different Types of Menstrual Disorders\
In this section, we will explain the different types of menstrual disorders:
Listed below are some of the different types of Menstrual Disorders:
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Causes, Signs, and Symptoms
Amenorrhea is the absence of menstrual periods. There are two types of amenorrhea: Primary and Secondary. Primary amenorrhea is diagnosed when a female adolescent does not get her period by age 16. The cause may be a problem with the pituitary gland, a delay in puberty, or an inborn defect in the female reproductive system. Secondary amenorrhea is recognized when a woman misses her period for more than 3 months or longer. The cause of secondary amenorrhea differs in adults and adolescents. The typical causes in adults include menopause, pregnancy, stopping birth control, premature ovarian failure, breastfeeding, and pelvic inflammatory disease. In teens, the common causes are hyperthyroidism, anorexia, sudden weight gain or loss, ovarian cysts, pregnancy, and stopping birth control. The symptoms include hair loss, headache, vision changes, extra facial hair, and nipple discharge.
Dysmenorrhea is described as having acute menstrual pain or cramps. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fainting, and low back pain radiating down the legs. Just like amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea also has two types: Primary and secondary. The first is caused by hormone-like substances released in the uterus that cause the uterine muscles to contract. The latter may be caused by an underlying medical condition such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory diseases.
Oligomenorrhea is the medical term for infrequent menstrual cycles. That means the period schedule is unpredictable. Instead of having monthly periods, you may only have eight or less in a year. Apart from this major symptom, you might also experience hot flashes, headaches, abdominal pain, and acne, depending on the culprit. There’s not much to worry about if a female adolescent had just begun having her period since oligomenorrhea is commonly experienced by girls who just started their period. Other causes include eating disorders, extreme physical activities, stress, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and premature ovarian failure (POF).
Menorrhagia is a condition that refers to heavy menstrual bleeding. Your period may last for more than the average of 7 days. Normally, a woman loses about 30ml of blood per day, which means she may change her sanitary products around 3-5 times a day. With menorrhagia, menstrual flow consumes more than 5 sanitary products each day and may require changing pads during the night. The common causes of menorrhagia are changes in diet and exercise, hormonal imbalances, vaginal infections, puberty, hypothyroidism, and endometriosis.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) includes both physical and emotional symptoms that happen before or during a woman’s period. Some women experience more symptoms than others. The common symptoms are depression, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, constipation, diarrhea, stomach cramps, tender breasts, bloating, and acne. Research hasn’t found a concrete explanation for what causes PMS. However, there are suggested theories -hormonal changes, lifestyle factors, existing mental health conditions, and chemical changes in the brain.
Some menstrual disorders are impossible to prevent such as ones that are caused by congenital defects. But, for ones that are not, here are some tips to follow:
- Make sure to get sufficient rest. Establish a bedtime routine to help prepare your mind and body for sleeping.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat nutritious food. If weight loss is necessary, avoid diets that drastically restrain your calorie and food intake.
- Do not self-medicate. Use birth control pills and contraceptives as instructed.
- Reduce your stress. Practice relaxation and breathing techniques. Take up a hobby that satisfies and calms you down.
- Talk to your healthcare provider. Get yourself checked regularly by your doctor.
Ways to Manage and Treat Menstrual Disorders
There are various ways to treat a menstrual disorder, it ranges from OTC medications to surgery. However, a lot of factors need to be considered such as the cause of the disorder, the diagnosis, the severity, your health history, and the advice of your doctor.
There are cases when birth control pills can relieve the symptoms of PMS, and ease heavy flows. In some instances, medications like ibuprofen, and naproxen are recommended by doctors to treat dysmenorrhea, and at times accompanied by certain exercises. If the problem is related to stress, excessive exercise, or weight then, a lifestyle change may be the best option for treatment.
To end heavy bleeding, most surgical procedures result in the loss of fertility. Hence, one of the factors you have to consider is your desire to preserve fertility. Endometrial resection, endometrial ablation, and dilation and curettage are surgeries that destroy the uterus lining. The most common surgical procedure to completely stop the bleeding is called hysterectomy. The bleeding totally stops because the surgery removes the uterus. However, it is important to consider that hysterectomy is major surgery, therefore, many risk factors are involved. Moreover, the recovery period usually takes 4-6 weeks along with prolonged fatigue.
Indeed, going through a menstrual disorder is difficult. There are several matters to consider before choosing the best treatment according to one’s circumstances. However, keep in mind that it’s always best to consult your doctor. The information above is provided simply to raise awareness, and should not be used for ruling out a diagnosis.