It’s time that we talk about menstruation and discuss it as a function of a healthy female body! Many women are still unsure about what is normal and what is unusual when it comes to their menstrual cycle. While they endure it, they do not realize when it is time to visit a doctor.
Below are some common menstrual disorders that every woman should know about.
The absence of one or more menstrual periods is known as Amenorrhea. Women with at least three missed menstrual periods consecutively or girls who haven’t started menstruation by age 15 are said to have Amenorrhea.
The main symptom of Amenorrhea is lack of menstruation. Other symptoms include milky nipple discharge, hair loss, headache, vision changes and additional facial hair.
Can this be treated? Yes! Treatment options vary based on the cause of Amenorrhea. Some women may need to make lifestyle changes, such as a change in diet, regular exercise or yoga, and reducing stress. Certain hormonal medicines and birth control pills can help balance hormones, trigger periods or ovulation, such as for PCOS.
Having painful periods or menstrual cramps are called as Dysmenorrhea. These cramps are triggered by uterine contractions which are caused due to hormone-like substances called Prostaglandins. Primary dysmenorrhea refers to common menstrual cramps, while secondary dysmenorrhea is mild to severe pain that results from a disorder in the reproductive organs such as endometriosis, fibroids or adenomyosis. Both types are treatable.
How do you know if you have dysmenorrhea? The most common symptoms are:
- Cramping or pain in the lower abdomen
- Low back pain or pain radiating down the legs
- Nausea, Vomiting
Place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back or abdomen for pain relief. Rest when needed. Avoid caffeine, smoking and alcohol.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS):
PMS is a group of symptoms that affects a woman’s physical and emotional health and behaviour between ovulation and a period, generally starting 5-11 days before menstruation and typically ending once menstruation begins.
What does PMS feel like? PMS has a wide variety of symptoms, including mood swings, depression and irritability, fluid retention, acne, bloating, diminished libido, tender breasts, food cravings, fatigue, headaches and vertigo. It’s estimated that almost 3 of every 4 menstruating women have experienced some form of PMS.
- Antidepressants such as SSRIs successfully reduce mood symptoms.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Hormonal contraceptives.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD):
PMDD is an endocrine disorder in which a woman has symptoms such as severe depression, irritability, and tension before menstruation. PMDD symptoms are usually more severe than those that occur during PMS. In addition to physical symptoms, women with PMDD also experience a variety of mental health symptoms such as depression and suicidal thoughts.
- Lasting irritability/ anger that may affect other people
- Feelings of tension or anxiety, sadness or despair, or even thoughts of suicide
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Lack of interest in routine activities and relationships
- Trouble focusing
- Food cravings / binge eating
- Feeling out of control
- Abdominal cramps, bloating, headaches, breast tenderness and joint/muscle pain
Can PMDD be treated? Yes! Treatments for PMDD include-
- Antidepressants such as SSRIs can be prescribed to women suffering from PMDD.
- OTC pain relievers may alleviate symptoms such as breast tenderness, muscle aches and pains, cramps, and headaches.
- Birth control pills.
- In case drug-based treatments are ineffective, surgery may be considered.
- Making healthy changes, such as eating a healthy combination of foods across the food groups, cutting back on salty and sugary foods, and getting more physical activity, may also help relieve some symptoms.
If you have irregular periods, painful cramps, excessive facial hair growth or mood swings, don’t ignore it. It may help to visit a doctor and discuss your symptoms with them.