What are the different types of menstrual disorders?

Menstrual disorders can include PMS, menstrual cramps, heavy menstrual periods, or no menstrual periods at all. Menstrual disorders are considered common, and it is believed that almost all women suffer from some type of menstrual disorder at some point in their lives. However, not all menstrual disorders are serious.

Painful uterine cramps with menstruation, a condition known as dysmenorrhea, can be one of the most common menstrual disorders. When menstruation begins, the uterus begins to secrete prostaglandins, hormones responsible for causing uterine contractions. These contractions help the uterus shed its lining. Many women experience dysmenorrhea, often from their first period. Dysmenorrhea is not considered serious and usually goes away after or during menstruation.

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is another menstrual disorder that is considered quite common. It is believed that up to 75 percent of women experience at least mild symptoms of PMS on a regular basis. This disorder can cause physical and emotional symptoms that may be related to hormonal changes within the body.

Symptoms usually begin about a week before menstruation and may worsen until menstruation begins, when they usually go away. Physical symptoms can include breast tenderness, constipation, fatigue, bloating, and headaches. Emotional symptoms can include irritability, depression, mood swings, and trouble concentrating.

Amenorrhea, the complete absence of a menstrual period, is generally classified into two types, primary and secondary. Primary amenorrhea is often diagnosed in girls who have reached the age of 16 without having had a first menstrual period or menarche. It can be due to endocrine problems, eating disorders or reproductive deformities. Secondary amenorrhea usually occurs when a normally menstruating woman is unable to menstruate for three to six months. While excessive exercise, stress, disease, and reproductive disorders can contribute to amenorrhea, the most common cause is thought to be pregnancy.

Menorrhagia, or heavy menstruation, is generally defined as a menstrual period that lasts more than seven days or produces abnormally large amounts of menstrual blood. Women with menorrhagia sometimes find clots in their menstrual blood. While the normal woman may bleed about a third of a cup (78.07 milliliters) during the average menstrual period, a woman with menorrhagia may pass 3.3 cups (.78 liters) to 8.3 cups (1.95 liters) of menstrual blood with each period. Causes of menorrhagia can include growths or tumors of the uterus, IUD use, certain types of cancer, and hormonal problems.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is a mood disorder associated with menstruation that is thought to affect three to eight percent of women. Symptoms can include severe mood swings, anxiety, and irritability. Other physical and emotional symptoms can occur, similar to those of PMS, but usually much more severe. These symptoms usually appear about a week before menstruation and have usually receded by the third day after menstruation begins.

Go up