Menstrual Cycle Problems

Most of the women are suffering from problems related to their periods (menses) at one point in their life. There is no set definition for a normal period as every woman has their own way of getting the monthly menstrual cycle.

A monthly cycle for some women can be short and for some can be long. The menstrual cycle normally varies form 21 to 35 days and is different for each woman.

Periods may seem to be annoying for for most of the girls, but it is a positive signal that one gets every month signifying that things are normal with the reproductive system inside [1].

Menstrual Cycle Problems Most Common Period Problems image photo picture

Most Common Period Problems

Anything that is beyond the usual periods that you get each month is a warning bell, that indicates a misbalance in the reproductive processes going on inside the body. There are various problems that women may undergo with their menstrual cycle.

These include heavy bleeding, change in the color and consistency of the menstrual blood, painful periods, irregular periods and absent periods. Each topic will be dealt separately and discussed in grave details.

Heavy Bleeding (Menorrhagia)

Heavy bleeding, medically known as menorrhagia is one of the most common problems of periods[2]. It has been studied that on an average women bleed about 25 – 80 mL (2 – 3 tablespoon) of blood each month.

Heavy bleeding is defined as the condition, wherein women bleed more than 5 tablespoon of blood during their menstrual cycle [3].

Menorrhagia is the occurrence of heavy bleeding but within a regular interval of time. It does not denote irregularity in the days of cycle.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, heavy bleeding or menorrhagia lasts for 7 or more days. In addition to this, passing out quarter or larger sized clots is also considered to be heavy bleeding [4].

Heavy bleeding is a symptom of problem. This indicates that you will lose more iron than usual which in turn would induce fatigue, anemia, pale skin and shortness of breath. There are several conditions that cause heavy menstrual bleeding. These include [3, 5]

  • Miscarriage Ectopic pregnancy
  • Willebrand’s disease
  • Change in the dose of birth control pill
  • Illegal use of drugs
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Uterine or cervical cancer
  • Liver, kidney or thyroid disease

Management of Menorrhagia

Treatment is usually non-surgical in nature unless required under serious conditions. Drugs recommended for treating menorrhagia [4] are ibuprofen, iron supplements, intrauterine contraception and nasal spray.

Painful Periods (Dysmenorrhea)

The sever pain during periods is known as dysmenorrhea. Though, women do experience some kind of pain during their menstruation. The intensity and type of this usual pain however varies from individual to individual.

But dysmenorrhea is a condition in which pain is so severe that it hampers the normal activities of women suffering from it. The pain usually is experienced in the lower abdomen as cramps and it gradually radiates to the thighs, back and vagina. The pain occurs when bleeding begins.

The pain lasts for about 12 – 24 hours or even more [6]. Pain may be sharp in nature, throbbing, nauseating, shooting or burning type. Painful periods are often accompanied by a variety of conditions such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, headache and even menorrhagia [7].

The period pain occurs when the muscle wall of the womb contracts. However, there are several other medical conditions that give rise to period pain. These are

  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

Management of Dysmenorrhea

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin are used for treating dysmenorrhea (8). In cases, when you cannot take NSAIDs, then paracetamol can also be taken to get relief from pain (9). Other measures that can be done at home to treat or reduce pain during periods include

  • Light exercises
  • Warm bath
  • Heat application to lower abdomen
  • Massage around the lower abdominal region
  • Transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation

Absence of Periods (Amenorrhea)

Missed (Skipped) Periods or the sudden stopping of periods may be a sign of pregnancy. Absence of periods signifies that no more eggs are produced and hence menstruation does not take place. However, there are several factors other than pregnancy that may cause amenorrhea. These include [10]

  • Stress
  • Heavy physical exercise
  • Eating pattern and its related disorders
  • Drug abuse
  • Hormonal issues
  • Uterine scarring
  • Breast feeding
  • Diseases
  • Contraception
  • Improper functioning of the thyroid gland

Management of Amenorrhea

The primary management of amenorrhea consists of staying calm and stress free. If you have missed your periods due to stress then it should return back to normal by the next month. A well balanced diet that is not low in calories and fat is advised.

If these do not help to reinstate your periods then waste no time and seek medical help as the earliest.

Bleeding in Between Periods

According to Fraklin Loffer, MD, Executive vice president and medical director of AAGL (formerly known as American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists), bleeding in between periods is a serious condition that requires an immediate medical attention [3]. There are several causes that can give rise to this condition. These are:

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Cancer
  • Sores in and around the vagina
  • Missed dose of birth control pill

Changes in the Consistency and Color of Menstrual Blood

If there is change in the color and consistency of blood throughout their menstrual cycle then everything is normal. The menstrual may turn dark brown to black in color as you are towards the end of your period.

This change in the color of the blood is considered to be normal as the blood is not discharged quickly and being old it turns darker than usual.

During menstruation, the body releases anticoagulants to prevent the blood from clotting. This process however does not occur during heavy bleeding.

The blood is released so quickly from the body that the body gets no time to release anticoagulants [11]. There are several reasons that can cause menstrual blood problems. These include:

1. Miscarriage

This is true for women who are pregnant. If you are pregnant and still pass out dark clots then there is a possibility that you have miscarried.

2. Fibroids

Fibroids or leiomyomas are non cancerous tumors that form in the uterus. Presence of fibroids causes more clots to pass out during menstruation.

3. Hormonal changes

When the balance between estrogen and progesterone is disturbed it causes excessive thickening of the uterine lining. This disturbance in the hormones causes production of clots during menstrual bleeding.

Period problems are pretty common and may vary from person to person. However, if you notice a difference in the characteristics of your regular period, you should waste no time in consulting your medical advisor.

References:

  1. http://women.webmd.com/features/when-your-period-signals-problem
  2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/videos/news/Period_Problems_011013-1.html
  3. http://women.webmd.com/features/when-your-period-signals-problem?page=2
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html
  5. http://www.mypregnancybaby.com/period-problems/
  6. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Periods-painful/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  7. http://women.webmd.com/features/when-your-period-signals-problem?page=3
  8. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods/Pages/Complications.aspx
  9. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-painful/Pages/Treatment.aspx
  10. http://women.webmd.com/tc/missed-or-irregular-periods-topic-overview
  11. http://women.webmd.com/guide/menstrual-blood-problems-clots-color-and-thickness

Published on January 12th, 2018 by under Pregnancy.
Article was last reviewed on January 24th, 2018.

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