We shall be looking at the Common Menstrual Problems which can vary from mild to severe. These can be in the form of painful periods, irregular periods, spotting in between menstrual cycles, heavy periods or scanty periods, short cycles or long cycles.
Normally, menstruation is cyclical and takes place when the wall of the uterus or womb breaks down and is shed off, passing out through the vagina. This usually begins between the ages of 8 and 15. On average it begins at the age of 12 years in the United State.
The average menstrual cycle length is 28 days but any range between 21 and 35 is normal. Usually, most women have the misconception that any cycle length that is not 28 days is abnormal.
The menstrual flow lasts from 3 to 7 days, with variation in the quantity of blood. Pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause make the period not to be regular as anticipated. When it is not due to these, the cause should be searched for.
Next, we shall be discussing the presentations of common menstrual problems to help us know the diagnosis. This is to help us know when to see a doctor for appropriate treatment.
PAIN OR CRAMPS
This is the commonest menstrual problem. On average, about half of all women experience menstrual cramps in their lifetime. This is dysmenorrhea.
While some women experience severe pain that affects their day to day activities, others might have just a feeling of heaviness on the lower part of the tummy. It could be primary or secondary.
This usually starts during the first period. In most women, the pain wanes as they get older. The contraction of the muscles of the uterus to expel its content is responsible. Early-onset of period, smoking and stress increase the risk.
Usually due to diseases or other health problems. The pain lasts longer than what is seen when the cause is primary. When you start experiencing pain during menstruation that is not relieved by over the counter pain medication, or if it is preventing you from doing your daily routines, then you should see your doctor. This could be a symptom of a health problem. Examples of health problems include;
- Pelvic iflammator disease; This infection is ascending in nature begining from the vagina. It can go up to your vagina, uterus, the fallopian tubes or even get to your ovaries. In severe cases, the infection can get to the nearby organs giving you a frozen pelvis.
- Fibroid; If you have fibroid, you will likely to have heavy menstrual flow and pain in the pelvis. This mass is usually not a cancer. The growth is within the wall of the uterus or on the surface of the wall.
- Endometriosis; This could be the cause of your serious menstrual pain. The tissue linning the inner wall of the uterus known as endometrium is elsewhere other than the uterus. During menstruation, it is also sheds causing pain.
IRREGULAR MENSTRUAL CYCLE
You have an irregular menstrual cycle if the number of days from the beginning of your menses to the beginning of the next one keep changing. Change by a day or two is fine but 3 days or more is abnormal. The length of the menstrual cycle is from 21 to 35 days. Menstrual cycle length that is less than 21 or greater than 35 is irregular. We advise that you see your doctor if you have irregular menses.
You are at risk of irregular menses if you;
- have uncontrolled diabetes,
- have polycystic ovarian disease,
- are obese,
- have eating disorder,
- are in stress,
- have thyroid problem
HEAVY MENSTRUAL FLOW
Heavy menstrual flow is very discomforting. It can as well be accompanied by pain. The menstrual bleeding can be so much to disturb you from doing your daily activities.
Sometimes, you wonder what is causing it. If you are experiencing this, you might be having any of the following;
- Problem with ovulation which can be as a result of ovulation problem.
- Problem with your thyroid which makes it to function higher or lower than normal. This situation can make you have irregular flow.
- When fibroid grows in your uterus, it can cause you heavy flow or make the cycle irregular.
- When you have bleeding problem in which there is difficulty with blood clotting.
- If you are obese, the fat secretes oestrogen that can alter the menstrual cycle giving you an irregular period.
If your period lasts longer than 7 days, or you have a heavy flow giving you dizziness, or you are passing big clots, please see your primary health physician.
BLEEDING INBETWEEN MENSES
If you notice bleeding outside your normal period, it is abnormal. It could be a sign of a serious health problem such as
- cancer of the genital tract like the cervix or uterus.
- rupture of an ovarian cyst
We advise you to see your doctor if you see vaginal bleeding at any other time apart from the menstrual period, or if the flow is heavier than normal. Additionally, if you bleed during intercourse or during menopause.
This is also called amenorrhea. You have amenorrhea if you have not seen your period at the age of 15 or that you did not see it for three months consecutively.
Amenorrhea that is due to either pregnancy or breastfeeding is normal. If this is not your case, it could be due to disorder of eating, stress, weight gain or hormonal problems such as polycystic ovarian symptoms.
Having looked at the features of the common menstrual problems, you are guided on how to know what they are when you see them.
The treatment or management of each vary, and we encourage anyone with such a complaint to visit her doctor for appropriate treatment.
Also read: Maintaining a Healthy Vagina
In Summary, we have been able to discuss some of the common menstrual problems. We believe that with this discussion, you can be able to know what is normal from what is abnormal in order to call on a doctor at the right time.