Menstrual disorders: how to manage them?

Several menstrual disorders exist and may affect you in your daily life: Elia gives you some explanations and advice to help you identify them.

What are menstrual disorders?

Menstrual disorders are conditions with more or less severe symptoms related to menstruation, which differ from a "normal" menstrual cycle and all menstruating women may experience a menstrual problem in their life. Menstrual problems can be related to the frequency or intensity of periods or both. Each problem has its origin and its treatment.

What are the different menstrual disorders?

Menstrual disorders are numerous, but they also depend on each woman. Indeed, it is not possible to predict in advance which problems you will encounter during your period and your cycle phase! In order to better understand menstrual problems, we will detail them below one by one.

Painful periods

Painful periods or dysmenorrhea are pains that appear shortly before, during or 2 to 3 days after the period. This problem can occur as early as the first menstrual period in adolescence (primary dysmenorrhea), or later, after several cycles (secondary dysmenorrhea).

The pain is usually localized in the lower abdomen and pelvis. It can also be accompanied by headaches, nausea or vomiting and a general state of fatigue.

Painful periods are primarily a problem related to an expression of pain that may be due to an identifiable menstrual disorder such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, cysts on the ovaries, a poorly tolerated intrauterine device (IUD)... Half of all women, however, will find no identifiable cause for this period problem! The treatment usually consists of taking painkillers to calm the pain, and to carry out complementary examinations in search of a deeper gynecological affection.

Heavy periods

Heavy periods or hypermenorrhea are periods that are abnormally heavy over a long period of time. It is a menstrual problem that is very frequently reported among menstruating women.

The amount of blood normally discharged is on average 4 tablespoons over a period of 3 to 7 days. A woman with this disorder may lose up to 6 tablespoons or more over a longer period of time. The main problem with heavy blood loss is the notorious iron deficiency.

Anemia during menstruation

In menstruating women, heavy periods are the primary cause of iron deficiency! Iron deficiency can lead to anemia during menstruation. Anemia generally makes the body feel very tired. It is very common to feel breathless at the slightest effort, loss of appetite, develop headaches and dizziness, mood disorders ... We generally think of a state of physical or psychological fatigue before considering the track ofanemia, the latter being relatively silent! It is therefore important to monitor one's menstrual flow and to remain vigilant in the face of excessive blood loss in order to orientate oneself towards anaemia and, if necessary, have a blood test prescribed by one's doctor. It will then be possible to take supplements and adopt an iron-rich diet.

Hormonal changes

Hormones govern all body mechanisms and are known to have an influence on the reproductive cycle, sexual function, weight gain or loss, mood, stress, etc. The level of hormones during menstruation changes naturally before and after ovulation, but excessive variations outside the norm constitute a hormonal disorder of the menstrual cycle. This disorder can amplify the classic symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. It can also be the cause of other conditions:

  • Fungal infections during menstruation, i.e. the development of a fungus in the vaginal mucosa and vulva, called Candida Albicans;
  • Itching before, during or after the period. Itching is more than just a daily discomfort, it is usually related to an infection or inflammation of the mucosa.

It is possible to carry out a hormonal assessment, in particular the level of estrogen and progesterone, to better understand your health.

Other conditions related to menstruation

Other menstrual problems can affect your menstrual cycle. We've talked abouthypermenorrhea, but there is also the opposite,hypomenorrhea, which is when your period is very light over a normal cycle length. When the cycle is very long (more than 35 days), it is calledoligomenorrhea. When menstruation is completely absent, it is calledamenorrhea. Periods that come back too regularly because of a very short menstrual cycle (less than 25 days) are called polymenorrhea. Bleeding outside the menstrual cycle is called metrorrhagia. These symptoms should alert you to the need to manage your menstrual disorder!

What are the causes of menstrual problems?

Menstrual disorders, from puberty to menopause, can be caused by hormonal imbalances, stress, excessive weight gain or loss, but also by deeper gynecological disorders such as endometriosis, inflammation of the uterus or ovaries, taking contraceptives, unsuitable sanitary pads that can cause toxic shock... Your symptoms should therefore alert you and lead you to consult your doctor if necessary to carry out a check-up.

Is it normal to have blood clots during your period?

The presence of a blood clot during your period is not worrying in itself: it is simply blood cells that have coagulated and form a viscous mass. This phenomenon is also more frequent in the morning, after a long nightly stretch, because the blood has more time to clot. The presence of clots should alert you especially if you have other symptoms such as unpleasant periods, fatigue, anemia...

What to do when you suffer from menstrual disorders?

The first thing to do is to keep a diary to note your symptoms, the intensity and frequency of your periods. An appointment with a health professional is then necessary to retrace them and to consider additional examinations and check-ups in case of a more profound disease. In addition to a clinical gynecological examination, blood or hormonal analyses in a laboratory, a smear, X-rays or even a hysteroscopy (examination of the uterus) may be required, depending on the menstrual disorder.

The FAQ of menstrual disorders

What are menstrual disorders?

Menstrual disorders include any excessive variations in frequency and/orintensity related to menstruation. Irregular periods can include excessive blood loss (hypermenorrhea), sparse periods (hypomenorrhea), painful periods (dysmenorrhea) or periods outside of the menstrual period (metrorrhagia).

How to treat menstrual disorders?

To treat menstrual disorders, it is important to keep a small logbook to note your symptoms: this will allow your doctor or gynecologist to identify your problem more easily. He or she can then refer you for additional tests such as a thorough gynecological examination of the uterine cavity or blood and hormone tests. This will allow to know the menstrual disorder or diseases you suffer from to treat it effectively.

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