Menstrual problems are common among women. Among the different problems they face are PMS or premenstrual syndrome, irregular or missed periods, menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding or overbleeding. Though menstrual issues are a common occurrence, however severe or prolonged issues like these can signify a menstrual disorder. At an early age, these problems are just a sign of the woman’s body getting used to the natural rhythm of a menstrual cycle. However, it is best to consult so that any disorder is diagnosed and treated early.
The most common types of menstrual disorders are PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome, dysmenorrheal or menstrual cramps, amenorrhea or missed periods, and overbleeding or menorrhagia. These disorders are outlined below.
Premenstrual syndrome may occur from seven to fourteen days before a period starts; and sometimes continues for some time after the period has begun. However, the symptoms are not the same for all women. Some women feel severe pain or experience mood swings during this stage of the menstruation cycle. PMS is caused by the hormonal changes in a woman’s body that start at the point of ovulation and continue till menstruation starts. Around 85% of the female population experiences premenstrual symptoms during their reproductive years. If more than three mild to moderate symptoms are detected in a woman, then treatment for PMS is suggested since it is possible that these symptoms may disrupt her normal life.
Missed or absent periods is also known as amenorrhea. Amenorrhea can be of two types – primary amenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea. In the case of a woman who has never menstruated, the condition is known as primary amenorrhea. In case of a pregnancy, a woman misses her periods as well. This condition of missed periods is known as secondary amenorrhea.
Menstrual cramps are a common issue for women of reproductive age. This disorder is also known as dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea is also of two types like amenorrhea – primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea has no underlying cause. It is the name given to the cramping of the lower abdomen just before and after the period begins. Secondary dysmenorrheal pain occurs due to disorders in the reproductive system. Pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps.
Overbleeding, also known as menorrhagia is excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Menorrhagia is also called hypermenorrhea. Menorrhagia does not include the normal heavy bleeding that is sometimes experienced during a period. Only severely heavy bleeding or bleeding that lasts longer than seven days can be termed as menorrhagia. It is often accompanied by discharge of large blood clots. The most probable causes for such bleeding are uterine fibroids or misbalanced hormones.
The above discussed disorders are the most common menstrual issues faced by women. These disorders can also be warning signs of other serious problems like endometrial cancer, uterine fibroids etc.
It is advisable for women to get a regular check-up and keep track of their menstrual cycles, so as to detect any changes. Keeping a diary of symptoms and their severity through at least two to three cycles helps to evaluate any condition and is invaluable for physicians if medical assistance is required.