With each menstrual cycle, the endometrium (uterine lining) prepares itself to nourish a fetus. If fertilization doesn’t occur, the body sheds the endometrium during the monthly (on average) cycle. In some cases, an irregularity can occur in this cycle, indicating any of the following menstrual disorders:
PMS is any unpleasant or uncomfortable symptom during your cycle that may temporarily disturb normal functioning. These symptoms may last from a few hours to many days, and the types and intensity of symptoms can vary in individuals.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a much more severe form of PMS which affects approximately 3%-8% of women of reproductive age. PMDD requires treatment by a physician. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, nearly 85% of women experience at least one common symptom associated with PMS during their reproductive years. An estimated 5% have symptoms so extreme they are disabled by the condition.
Although each individual may experience symptoms differently, the most common symptoms of PMS can include any of the following:
Simple modifications in lifestyle can help eliminate or reduce the severity of symptoms, including:
Amenorrhea is characterized by absent menstrual periods for more than three monthly menstrual cycles. There are two types of amenorrhea:
Amenorrhea can occur for a number of reasons as part of the normal course of life, such as pregnancy, breast-feeding or menopause. Or, it may occur as a result of medications or a medical problem including:
If at least three consecutive menstrual periods are missed or if you've never had a menstrual period and are 16 years or older, it is important to see a healthcare professional. As with any condition, early diagnosis and treatment is very important.
Dysmenorrhea is characterized by severe and frequent menstrual cramps and pain associated with menstruation. The cause of dysmenorrhea is dependent on if the condition is primary or secondary. With primary dysmenorrheal, women experience abnormal uterine contractions resulting from a chemical imbalance in the body. Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by other medical conditions, most often endometriosis. Other possible causes may include:
Any woman can develop dysmenorrhea, but those who are at an increased risk include:
The most common symptoms may include:
Menorrhagia is the most common type of abnormal uterine bleeding and is characterized by heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding. In some cases, bleeding may be so severe that daily activities are disrupted.
Other types of this condition, also called dysfunctional uterine bleeding, may include:
There are several possible causes of menorrhagia, including:
Typical symptoms of menorrhagia are when a woman has soaked through enough sanitary napkins or tampons to require changing every hour, and/or a woman’s menstrual period lasts longer than 7 days in duration. Other common symptoms include spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods, or spotting or bleeding during pregnancy.
A diagnosis can only be certain when the physician has ruled out other menstrual disorders, medical conditions or medications that may be causing or aggravating the condition.
Other diagnostic procedures may include:
Your doctor may suggest a psychiatric evaluation to rule out other possible conditions, or ask you to track your symptoms in a journal to better assess the timing, severity, onset and duration of symptoms.
A specific treatment plan will be determined by your doctor based on factors such as:
Discussing your menstrual disorder symptoms with your doctor can help determine what type of treatments can best reduce or relieve your symptoms, including:
For more information about menstrual disorders, schedule an appointment for a pelvic exam or Pap test.