In order to understand different types of menstrual disorders, let us first understand what a menstrual cycle is.Menstruation is termed as ‘menarche’ which on average begins in young girls aged between 12 – 13 years. Where the average menstrual cycle lasts for about 28 days, it can also anywhere last between 21 days – 35 days. Duration of menstruation, which is the bleeding period, for most women is around 3 – 5 days but it can normally last anywhere from 2 – 7 days.
Most of the females undergoing menstruation experience some or the other symptoms like abdominal pain, cramps etc. However, these symptoms are minimalistic in nature and not serious enough to be categorised as disorders.Menstrual disorders can be defined as a cluster of physical and or emotional symptoms which females experience just before and during menstruation; ranging from heavy bleeding and missed periods to irritating mood swings. These symptoms are severe enough to affect and disrupt a woman’s routine life and it might also lead to further complications.
Following 5 Different Types Of Menstrual Disorders:
The 5 major menstrual disorders are dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, amenorrhea, abnormal bleeding and premenstrual syndrome.These disorders may be initiated by a variety of conditions that include infections, malignancies, pregnancy, trauma, hormonal imbalances, diseases, and certain medications.
Now let us discuss each of these disorders in detail:
Dysmenorrhea (Painful Cramps)
Dysmenorrhea is basically painful periods. You would experience pain and frequent incidences of cramps in lower abdomen, lower back which may also extend to your thigh region. These cramps are a result of contractions happening in your uterus which is a normal process (primary dysmenorrhea). This primary dysmenorrhea usually starts with bleeding and lasts for period of 2-3 days.
However, when these painful cramps are caused due to certain diseases such as uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammation, endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy etc, especially in elderly females, it is called secondary dysmenorrhea.The symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea can be relieved by using pain killers or by using hot water bag for massage, whereas this is not the case for secondary dysmenorrhea.
Menorrhagia (Heavy Bleeding)
Menorrhagia simply means excessive menses. It is characterized by excessive bleeding and significantly heavier periods.In general, in a normal menstruation phase a female loses about 30ml of blood and the period lasts for about 7 days. A period during which lasts for more than 7 days and if the female loses more than 80ml of blood is characterized as case of menorrhagia.
Primary Dysmenorrhea and Menorrhagia often go hand in hand as passing large volume of blood and large clots causes painful cramps.Some of the causes of menorrhagia are – hormonal imbalance, thyroid disorders, blood diseases, inflammation or infection in the vaginal region.
Amenorrhea (Absence Of Menstruation)
Amenorrhea simply stands for absence of menstruation. In such cases either the female has not started menstruating after 15 years of age (primary amenorrhea) or menstruation which was occurring regularly has stopped for more than 3 months (secondary amenorrhea).
Abnormal vaginal bleeding includes bleeding from vagina due to reasons other than menses. Cases of abnormal bleeding include blood loss between menstrual periods, incidences of bleeding post sexual intercourse and bleeding occurring after menopause.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is described by a couple of symptoms which are physical, emotional, and behavioral in nature and occur during the last week of the luteal phase (which is a week before menstruation) in most cycles.The symptoms are normally observed after day 13 in the cycle, and resolve within 4 days after initiation of menstruation. Premenstrual syndromes symptoms may be observed at any time during reproductive years, but predominantly expose themselves in late 20s to early 40s of age. Some of the characteristic symptoms of PMS are tenderness of breasts, depressed or irritable mood, decreased libido, appearance of acne, headache, feeling of abdominal bloating etc.
Usually, the above mentioned symptoms remain fairly constant until menopause, however there might be some variations from cycle-to-cycle and person-to-person. It varies with the kind of lifestyle you follow.Generalized treatment options for menstrual disorders include use of pain killers or anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief, use of oral contraceptives to regulate menstrual cycle & reduce heavy bleeding. There are few surgical options which can also be considered if necessary. Your doctor will decide, which kind of treatment you required, depending upon the condition of your health.