What is a Menstrual Cycle?
Menstruation is a normal and healthy phenomenon that women of childbearing age experience in cycles. Also known as a period, the menstrual cycle takes place at regular intervals when the lining of the uterus is shed. These intervals usually span between 21 to 35 days — the number varies with the age and physiology of women. It is one of the key events that signals female puberty and readies women for sexual reproduction.
Since menstruation is a vital indicator of a woman’s health, any menstrual irregularities should be brought to the attention of a qualified gynaecologist. Symptoms of menstrual irregularities include painful period cramps, lower back pain, heavy bleeding, gushes of blood, clotted bleeding, and irregular cycles. If you have any of these symptoms, please make an appointment with Dr G soon – you could have a gynaecological problem that requires medical intervention.
Types of Menstrual Cycle Disorders
The spectrum of menstrual cycle disorders is broad and encompasses several different types of irregularities. Some of these include:
- Amenorrhea. This disorder refers to the absence of menstruation in girls and women of reproductive age. The term encompasses adolescents who haven’t started menstruating by 15 years and women who haven’t had a period in three consecutive months. Amenorrhea is natural during pregnancy and lactation.
- Dysmenorrhoea. This is the commonest of all menstrual disorders and refers to the pain women experience around the time of their period. However, if your pain is excruciating or starts before your period begins and continues after it ends, this may be associated with endometriosis and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
- Menorrhagia. This menstrual disorder is characterised by excessive and prolonged uterine bleeding, the passing of large clots, and gushes of blood.
- Oligomenorrhoea. This disorder is characterised by infrequent menstrual periods. Women with this disorder typically have between four to nine periods each year.
- Polymenorrhea. This disorder is characterised by menstrual cycles that are less than 21 days apart. Women with this condition tend to have periods that last for more than seven days.
- Hypomenorrhea. This disorder is characterised by minimal or scanty period flow. Women with this problem tend to have periods that last less than three days.
- Metrorrhagia. Women with this disorder experience uterine bleeding between two expected periods. The common causes for this condition include endometrial polyps, endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids and, occasionally, cancer of the uterus.
Menopause. If a woman hasn’t had a menstrual period in over 12 months, she is considered to have entered menopause. Menopause is a natural biological process that signals the end of the child-bearing phase. The normal age range for women attaining menopause is between 45 to 55 years old, with the average age in Australia being 51. Menopause can be accompanied by physical and emotional symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweat, insomnia, reduced libido, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and painful sexual intercourse. Menopause is also associated with a loss of bone mineral density (osteoporosis), increased blood cholesterol, a higher risk of heart disease, and memory loss (dementia). Menopausal symptoms can be treated both conservatively, through behavioural medication and mental relaxation techniques, and through medications, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and non HRT.
In short, if your menstrual cycles and period flow exhibit any deviation from what is normal or if you experience severe period pain, you are likely to have a menstrual disorder.
Other Problems Responsible for Menstrual Irregularities and Abnormalities
Consult Dr G if your menstrual cycle or flow is atypical in any way. Your problem could also be the result of other serious conditions like:
- Uterine fibroids. This condition is characterised by the growth of benign tumours within the uterus of women of childbearing age
- This condition refers to the growth of endometrial tissue on the outside of the uterus, instead of on the inside.
- Premature ovarian failure. This condition refers to the impaired functioning of the ovaries of women who are under 40.
- Dysfunctional uterine bleeding. This condition refers to abnormal vaginal bleeding with the absence of a pathological disorder. It is the commonest cause of abnormal bleeding amongst women of reproductive age.
- Uterine cancer and endometrial hyperplasia (precancerous lesion of the uterine lining). Both conditions can be extremely detrimental if left untreated.
Treating Your Menstrual Problems
It is imperative that menstrual disorders are diagnosed early since, if left untreated, they can lead to complications like infertility, anaemia, excessive blood loss (haemorrhage), and cancer of the uterus. Dr G has several treatment options to offer you depending upon the type of problem you have. For information on these options, visit our page Treating Menstrual Disorders.
Don’t wait for your symptoms to worsen. With his experience, knowledge, and state-of-the-art medical equipment, Dr G is more than able to diagnose your condition, discuss your options with you, and treat the menstrual cycle disorder.