Menstrual problems are one of the most common gynecologic issues. Menstrual
irregularities may result in a woman not getting her period, or having
periods too frequently or infrequently. Other menstrual problems include
unpredictable or excessive menstrual bleeding, or severe pain during menstruation.
Menstrual irregularities are usually a sign of an underlying medical issue.
That’s why it’s important to see your physician if you’re
experiencing any unusual changes in your menstrual cycle such as:
- Irregular menstrual cycles, which may include having a period more often
than every 21 days, or less often than every 35 days, for several cycles
- Bleeding or spotting between periods; or bleeding or spotting after menopause;
- Menstrual bleeding that lasts for more than seven days
- Soaking through one or more pads or tampons each hour for several hours in a row
- Severe pain during menstruation
There are four main categories of menstrual problems:
- Amenorrhea is a term used to describe the lack of menstruation. Amenorrhea
occurs when a woman does not get her period by age 16, or when she stops
getting her period for at least three months and is not pregnant.
- Oligomenorrhea is a term that refers to infrequent menstrual periods, or
having a period only occasionally.
- Abnormal Uterine Bleeding refers to either excessive menstrual bleeding
(also called menorrhagia), or bleeding/spotting that occurs between periods
or after menopause. It also includes a condition know as dysfunctional
uterine bleeding, which is menstrual bleeding that occurs more often than
every 21 days or farther apart than 35 days. DUB may also result in periods
that last longer than seven days.
Dysmenorrhea refers to painful periods, including severe menstrual cramps.
Dysmenorrhea may be accompanied by other symptoms, including
diarrhea, nausea, vomiting,
headache, or discomfort in the lower back.
Amenorrhea (lack of menstruation) is not a disease, but a symptom of another
condition. Possible causes can include: pregnancy, moderate or excessive
exercising, eating disorders, physical or psychological stress, tumors,
polycystic ovary syndrome, premature ovarian failure, menopause and thyroid
or hormonal imbalances.
- Oligomenorrhea (infrequent menstruation) is also a symptom of an underlying
medical condition. Possible causes can include: polycystic ovary syndrome;
premature ovarian failure; uterine disease; disorders of the thyroid,
pituitary gland or hypothalamus; and other hormone imbalances.
- Abnormal Uterine Bleeding can occur as a result of many different types
of conditions: fibroids or polyps; endometriosis; an infection; ectopic
pregnancy or miscarriage; uterine disease; hormonal imbalances and use
of certain medications. In menopausal and postmenopausal women, bleeding
or spotting should be promptly evaluated by a physician.
- Dysmenorrhea (pain during menstruation) may occur as the result of the
period itself, but it can also be caused by conditions like infection,
endometriosis, fibroids, or ovarian cysts.
To determine the cause of the problem, your physician will perform a thorough
pelvic examination, discuss your symptoms and medical history, and in
most cases order a Pap Test. In addition, your physician may also recommend
other diagnostic tests such as pelvic ultrasound or laparoscopy to help
further clarify or diagnose the cause of the problem.
When it comes to treating menstrual irregularities, there are many options
depending on the cause of the problem. Some of the most common treatment
- Treatment of Amenorrhea (lack of menstruation) depends on the underlying
cause. Sometimes lifestyle changes can help if weight, stress, or excessive
exercise or physical activity is causing amenorrhea. Other times, medications
and oral contraceptives may be prescribed to resolve the problem.?
- Treatment of Oligomenorrhea (infrequent menstruation) is generally a symptom
of an underlying medical condition. Treatment depends on the cause of
the problem. Many causes can be treated with hormonal therapy or oral
contraceptives. Athletes whose menstruation is off because of their diet
or exercise level may need to vary their fitness plan to regulate their
periods. Women who develop oligomenorrhea because of an eating disorder
require assistance from a nutritionist and therapist. If oligomenorrhea
is the result of a tumor, surgery may be required.
- Treatment of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding depends on the cause of the problem.
In the case of excessive bleeding (menorrhagia) or dysfunctional uterine
bleeding (DUB), treatment options may include hormonal therapy, dilation
and curettage (D&C), hysteroscopic procedures to remove polyps, and
endometrial ablation or resection. In the case of bleeding or spotting
between periods, treatment varies and may include hormonal therapy and
treatments to resolve infection or inflammation. In menopausal and postmenopausal
women, bleeding or spotting should be promptly evaluated by a physician.
- Treatment for Dysmenorrhea (pain during menstruation) depends on the underlying
cause. For mild cases not related to an underlying health issue, medications
such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help to relieve
pain and uterine contractions. Oral contraceptives and the use of an IUD
can also help to reduce painful periods. In the case of pain resulting
from an underlying condition such as fibroids or endometriosis, there
are several treatment options available depending on the severity of the
problem, including non-surgical options such as endometrial ablation and
minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery.
At Hoag, our multidisciplinary team of board-certified gynecologic health
experts includes gynecologists, urogynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists
and other subspecialists who work together to provide a coordinated approach
in the treatment of menstrual problems, including the latest progressive
treatment options personalized to meet the needs of the individual patient.
If surgery is necessary, Hoag’s expert team is well versed in the
full gamut of minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques, including robotic-assisted
surgery utilizing the state-of-the-art da Vinci® Surgical System.
For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of menstrual problems,
please speak with your physician, or locate a Hoag-affiliated physician