Menstrual cycles bring about a variety of uncomfortable symptoms leading up to your period. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) encompasses the most common issues, such as mild cramping and fatigue, but the symptoms usually go away when your period begins.
Menstruation that is too heavy or too light, or the complete absence of a cycle, may suggest that there are other issues that are contributing to an abnormal menstrual cycle.
‘Normal’ menstrual cycle is different for every woman. A cycle that is regular for you can be abnormal for someone else. It is very important to stay in tune with the body and to talk to the doctor if you notice any significant changes to the menstrual cycle.
Different menstrual problems that you may experience are as follows.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS):
PMS occurs one to two weeks before your period begins. Some of the women experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms. Others experience few symptoms or even none at all. PMS can cause:
- Breast soreness
- Food cravings
- Excessive fatigue
- Feelings of stress
- Mild stomach cramps
You may experience different symptoms every month, and the severity of these symptoms can also vary. PMS is uncomfortable, but it is generally not worrisome unless it interferes with the normal activities.
Another common menstrual problem is a heavy period. Also called menorrhagia, heavy periods cause you to bleed more than normal. Also the duration of the period is longer than the average of five to seven days.
Menorrhagia is mostly caused by imbalances in hormone levels, especially progesterone and estrogen.
Causes of heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding includes are as follows:
- Vaginal infections
- Inflammation of the cervix
- Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
- Noncancerous uterus tumors (fibroids)
- Changes in diet or exercise
In some cases, women may not get their period. This is called amenorrhea. Primary amenorrhea is when you didn’t get the first period by age 16. This may be caused by an issue with the pituitary gland, a congenital defect of the female reproductive system, or a delay in puberty. Secondary amenorrhea occurs when you stop getting the regular periods for six months or more.
Common causes of primary amenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea in teens include:
- Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)
- Ovarian cysts
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Stopping birth control
When adults do not menstruate, the common causes are often different. These may include:
- Premature ovarian failure
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (a reproductive infection)
- Stopping consumption of birth control pills
Not only can your period be lighter or heavier than normal, but it can also be painful. Cramps are normal during PMS and they can occur when the uterus contracts as your period begins. However, some women experience excruciating pain. Also called dysmenorrhoea, extremely painful menstruation is likely linked to an underlying medical problem, such as:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Abnormal tissue growth outside of the uterus (endometriosis)
Treatment will depend on what causes the problems with the menstrual cycle. Birth control pills can relieve the symptoms of PMS, as well as regulate heavy flows. If a heavier or lighter than normal flow is related to thyroid or any other hormonal disorder, one can experience more regularity once one starts hormone replacements.
Dysmenorrhoea may be hormone related, but you may also require further medical treatment to address the problem. For example, antibiotics are used to treat pelvic inflammatory disease.