Menstrual cycles often bring along a variety of uncomfortable symptoms leading to your period. Some of these issues could be as minor as mild cramping to more severe problems like heavy bleeding or even complete absence of periods. Different menstrual problems will affect women of childbearing age at a different stage of their lives. Other than pain and discomfort, failure to treat some of these complications can cause serious reproductive problems. If you are facing an abnormal occurrence on your menstrual cycle, it would be wise to consult a gynecologist. At All Women’s Care, we offer consultation and treatment for all your gynecological problems. If you are in Los Angeles, CA, we will help you find a remedy for uncomfortable menstrual issues.
Overview of Menstrual Issues
With each menstrual cycle, the uterine lining prepares itself to nourish a fetus. If fertilization does not occur, the body will shed the endometrium during the monthly period. The menstrual cycle is a regular occurrence in the reproductive health of women of childbearing age. However, some complications come with this process. Menstrual dysfunction is one of the most common reasons why women seek gynecological treatment. Some of the menstrual issues occur before the cycle and others during the period.
The nature of these complications vary from woman to woman and may affect you at different stages of your life. What is considered a regular cycle will be different for each woman. Menstrual issues vary from minor cramping before and during the periods. In severe cases, menstrual complications could lead to heavy bleeding or even amenorrhea, which is a complete absence of periods.
Some menstrual issues come with severe pain that may prevent you from carrying on with your regular life. Others like menorrhagia can cause anemia, which is fatal if it goes untreated. If you are facing a medical complication as a result of the monthly period, it is essential to consult a gynecologist and seek treatment.
Common Menstrual Issues
The following are some of the most common menstrual issues:
Menstrual cramps, commonly known as dysmenorrhea, are cramping and throbbing pain in the lower abdomen. Most women will experience these pains just before or during the period. The discomfort caused by these pains may be just annoying or severe enough to need medication since they radiate to the waist and back. You are at an increased risk of suffering menstrual cramps if:
- You hit puberty at a young age, maybe 11 years or younger
- Your period is always heavy
- Your menstrual periods are irregular
- You have a family history of severe menstrual cramps
- You are younger than 30 years. Younger females are more likely to suffer severe menstrual cramps compared to older women.
- You are a smoker. Women who smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products are likely to suffer severe cramping before or during their menstrual period.
During the menstrual cycle, hormones involved in pain and inflammation will trigger the uterus to contract and expel the lining. A high level of these hormones will contribute to the severe pain experienced during the monthly period. Some of the causes of menstrual cramps include:
- Uterine Fibroids. These are non-cancerous growths that develop in the uterus and often cause pain. If you develop these growths in your reproductive years, you will likely experience painful periods.
- Cervical stenosis. Some women have a small cervix opening making it difficult to pass the menstrual flow. This will cause menstrual pain as a result of excessive pressure from the uterus.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease. PID is caused by sexually transmitted bacteria and can cause lower abdominal pain during menstrual periods.
- Endometriosis. This occurs when tissues lining the uterus grow in other parts of the reproductive system.
When you suffer from painful menstrual cramps, you will experience the following symptoms:
- Severe abdominal pain that starts a few days before your period and ends two to three days into the period
- Intense throbbing pain in the abdomen
- Dull recurring pain
- Severe pain that may radiate to your thighs and lower back
- You may also experience nausea as well as severe headache
Although menstrual cramps do not cause medical complications, they may interfere with your social activities. Some of the conditions associated with these cramps may end up causing infertility. If the symptoms are too severe that they affect your daily life, you need to consider visiting a gynecologist. When you visit the doctor, with this complication, they will perform a physical exam to check for amoralities in your reproductive system.
To identify the complications or a factor that contributes to menstrual cramps, the doctor will perform ultrasounds and laparoscopy. Sometimes, menstrual cramps improve with age, and the doctor may recommend the following as a way to relieve the pain:
- Hormonal birth control. Your body contains numerous hormones that aid in ovulation and a subsequent menstrual cycle. Hormonal therapy, pills, or injections can be used to prevent ovulation, thus reducing the severity of menstrual cramps.
- When fibroids or endometriosis cause menstrual cramps, you may require an operation. The surgical procedure aims at correcting the underlying factors.
- Pain killers. If the menstrual cramps are not so severe, the doctor may recommend over the counter pain relievers to help ease the pain during and before the periods.
- Lifestyle change. After finding out the cause behind the severe menstrual cramps, they can recommend that you practice a healthier lifestyle. This is by avoiding stressful situations and regular exercising, which could help ease the pain. Also, supplemental vitamins such as vitamin E and omega-three have been seen to relieve menstrual pains.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome constitutes of all physical and emotional changes a woman goes through before and during their menstrual period. This condition is prevalent in women of reproductive age, especially those below the age of 30 years. PMS has a variety of symptoms, including tender breasts, painful breast lumps, mood swings, food cravings, irritability, and depression. All these symptoms vary from mild to very severe and uncomfortable. The physical symptoms tend to recur in a pattern every time you are having your period. The exact cause of premenstrual syndrome is not known. However, the following factors may contribute to the condition:
- Change in chemical composition in the brain. Serotonin is a brain chemical known to play a crucial role in mood control. A fluctuation in this chemical could trigger mood swings which are a symptom of PMS. Also, low levels of serotonin can cause depression, fatigue as sleeping disorders.
- Hormonal imbalance. The female body has numerous hormones that can get out of balance during different times of the cycle. Changes in the concentration of these hormones bring about premenstrual syndrome.
- Depression. Although depression alone cannot cause all symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, undiagnosed depression can worsen some symptoms.
Since premenstrual syndrome is a common occurrence, there are many signs and symptoms. However, most women will not experience all of the symptoms. The behavioral and physical symptoms that come with this condition include:
- Abnormal weight gain resulting from fluid retention
- Flare-ups of acne and other skin conditions
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Muscle pains
- Mood swings and irritability
- Changes in appetite and food cravings
- Anxiety and tension
- Social withdrawal
Although you are not likely to experience all the symptoms, emotional and physical pain may be severe enough to affect your daily activities. However, regardless of the severity of these symptoms, they will clear within a few days. Some of the symptoms are manageable with painkillers or lifestyle changes. If you are not able to control these symptoms, it will be helpful to consult a doctor.
Since there is no known cause of PMS, there is no unique way that a doctor can diagnose your problem. To establish your premenstrual pattern, the doctor will rely on the information you provide about your cycle. You need to have a record indicating the symptoms you experience, and at what day of your period it occurs. In most cases, a lifestyle change may help you ease these symptoms. This is by modifying your diet and doing more exercise. The doctor may recommend some medications, but their success in relieving your symptoms will vary from one woman to another. Medications commonly prescribed for PMS include:
- Excessive weight is one of the causes of hormonal imbalance which is a contributing factor to PMS. When lifestyle change does not reduce pressure and swelling from PMS, diuretics will help your body remove excess water.
- Antidepressants will help relieve emotional symptoms such as mood swings and depression
- Hormonal contraceptives may prevent ovulation which may reduce PMS symptoms.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs. When you take these medications before the onset of your periods, you can ease the breast swelling and cramps.
Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Abnormally heavy and prolonged bleeding, commonly known as menorrhagia is a significant concern among women. Although most women may experience a heavy cycle, it is ever heavy enough to fall under menorrhagia. The heavy menstrual cycle causes excessive loss of blood and makes it difficult to carry out your usual activities. Menorrhagia comes with heavy menstrual cramps due to a large amount of blood and clots you shed. Heavy menstrual bleeding can be fatal for your health, and it is essential to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
The risk of developing this condition will vary depending on age. Also, you may be at risk of developing menorrhagia if you have other underlying conditions that contribute to this condition. Heavy menstrual bleeding in young adolescent girls is a result of anovulation. The anovulatory cycle will occur during the first years after the period begins.
On the other hand, menorrhagia in older women is caused by uterine disorders such as uterine cancer, fibroids, and hormonal medications. Common causes of menorrhagia are:
- Ovarian dysfunction. If your ovaries do not function correctly to produce an ovum during your menstrual cycle, the body will not be signaled to produce progesterone. Failure to produce hormones usually can cause an imbalance in the body which results in heavy bleeding.
- Fibroids. Fibroids are tumors growing in the uterus of women of childbearing age. If left untreated uterine fibroids can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Pregnancy complications. The unusual location of the placenta or a missed miscarriage can cause heavy bleeding.
- Genetic disorders. Some genetic disorders, such as poor clotting ability can cause heavy menstrual periods.
- Hormonal IUD. Menorrhagia is one of the most common side effects of the non-hormonal birth control IUD device. If this type of birth control method is causing you prolonged heavy bleeding, your doctor may help you change a plan that best suits your body.
- Hormonal Imbalance. In a regular cycle, your body will produce estrogen and progesterone, which control the buildup of the uterus lining. Conditions like insulin resistance and obesity will cause an imbalance in the hormones. When there is an imbalance in these hormones, the uterine lining will develop in excess, and when shedding off, you experience heavy bleeding.
- Medication. Hormonal medications and anti-inflammatory medication contribute to heavy menstrual periods.
If you experience any of the following symptoms of menorrhagia, you will need medical care:
- Heavy vaginal bleeding that lasts more than a week
- Passing large blood clots during your menstrual bleeding
- Signs of excessive blood loss like fatigue and shortness of breath
- Heavy cramping and bleeding that soaks a sanitary pad or tampon every hour.
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
Prolonged and excessive vaginal bleeding can cause anemia. This occurs when our body attempts to recover red blood cells. Menorrhagia depletes iron levels in the body, increasing the risk of anemia. This condition manifests in pale skin and weakness. Failure to seek treatment for anemia can cause death.
Also, along with the heavy vaginal bleeding menorrhagia causes severe abdominal cramping that may require medical intervention. Menorrhagia can be a fatal condition if left untreated. Therefore it is essential to visit a doctor if you experience severe symptoms.
Heavy menstrual bleeding is a severe condition. When you visit the doctor, they will want to find out the underlying cause of this condition. This is by examining your menstrual history. Also, you will be required to undergo blood tests, ultrasound, and pap tests to check for any abnormality or complication in your reproductive system. The doctor will go through the results of these tests to rule out medication as a cause of menorrhagia. Some of the treatments your doctor may recommend to control heavy menstrual bleeding include:
- Non-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain that accompanies heavy menstrual bleeding
- Tranexamic acid reduces the amount of blood loss during the mothy period. Also, this drug will help prevent anemia
- Oral contraceptives, which correct the hormonal balance in your body. If the condition is as a result of hormonal therapy or contraceptives, your doctor may be able to change or completely stop your medication.
- Iron supplementation. If left untreated, menorrhagia is likely to cause anemia. As a way to recover from this condition, the doctor may recommend some iron supplements.
- If heavy menstrual bleeding is caused by an abnormality in your reproductive system such as fibroids, you may undergo a surgical procedure to correct these underlying factors.
Amenorrhea is the complete absence of a period for three consecutive months. Also, young girls who have not started their period by 15 years are considered to have amenorrhea. Irregular periods that come with an interval of three months could be a sign of amenorrhea. If you are not pregnant, breastfeeding, or menopause, the absence of periods may be an indication of a problem in your reproductive health. Amenorrhea occurs for different reasons, some of which are natural, while others are abnormal and may require treatment. Common causes of amenorrhea are:
- Natural Factors
You will experience amenorrhea if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have reached menopause. During this time, amenorrhea is expected and is of course, not a reason to cause alarm.
Some prescription medications, especially those used to treat severe illnesses like cancer drugs, can stop your menstrual period. The temporary amenorrhea occurs during the time you are taking these drugs and is likely to resolve as soon as you finish the medication. Also, missed periods is one of the side effects of some birth control medications. Even after stopping these pills, it may take some time for regular ovulation to return.
- Hormonal Imbalance
Many medical problems cause a hormonal imbalance in the female body. Thyroid malfunction, pituitary tumor as well as premature menopause are some of the reasons for an imbalance in female hormones. When hormones that aid in ovulation is not in a healthy balance, you may experience amenorrhea.
- Structural Problems
Complications with your reproductive organs can cause amenorrhea. Uterine scarring a condition where scar tissue develops in the uterus can cause prolonged lack of periods. This is because the scar tissue prevents normal buildup and shedding of the uterus lining. Also, an obstruction of the vagina may prevent visible menstrual periods.
- Lifestyle Factors
Some lifestyle factors like excessively low body weight can cause hormonal imbalance leading to amenorrhea. Women who participate in vigorous sports have interrupted menstrual cycle and sometimes amenorrhea. Metal stress and depression affect the hypothalamus an area of the brain which regulates the hormones.
You are at risk of amenorrhea if other women in your family suffer from this condition. Some of the factors that predispose you to amenorrhea are inherited. Also, suffering from eating disorders like anorexia increases your risk of developing amenorrhea. The primary symptom of amenorrhea is missed menstrual. However, you may experience or all of the following symptoms alongside the absence of periods:
- Poor vision
- Excessive facial hair
- Severe acne
- Pelvic pain
- Headache and
- Nipple discharge
If you have missed at least three consecutive monthly periods and you are not pregnant, breastfeeding or menopause, it is vital to seek medical help. A pelvic exam will be carried out to detect any abnormalities in your reproductive system. If you have ever had a period, your doctor may perform tests to check whether you are undergoing regular puberty changes. Finding the cause of amenorrhea may take quite some time, and you will undergo some tests, including:
- Pregnancy test. You cannot experience menstrual periods during pregnancy. This is the first test you will take to rule out the possibility of pregnancy.
- Ovary function test. This test aims at checking the amount of FSH in your body and indicate if your ovaries are functioning correctly.
- Male hormones tests. If you have increased facial hair, t take to rule out the possibility. The doctor will want to find out if you have male hormones.
- Thyroid glands tests. The doctor will find out if your thyroid glands are working properly by checking the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone in your blood.
If all the above tests are carried out, and the doctor cannot establish the cause of amenorrhea, you may be required to undergo a pelvic ultrasound. This will help identify any abnormalities in your reproductive organs. Also, you may undergo CT scans to check if your ovaries appear normal. The treatment you receive will depend on o the underlying cause of your condition. Treatment varies from hormone therapy to oral contraceptive pills. The doctor may also prescribe medication to treat the underlying factors.
Irregularities between monthly periods are healthy if they do not affect your overall health and daily life. However, if you experience uncomfortable and severe syndromes, it is crucial to seek proper medical intervention.
Menstrual complications are one of the common gynecological problems affecting women of childbearing age. Some of these problems have symptoms that could affect your daily life. Others like menorrhagia may cause general health complications such as anemia due to excessive loss of blood. If you or your loved one is facing these complications, it is vital to consult a gynecologist. At All Women’s Care, we ensure that you understand the available treatments and remedies for your condition so you can make an informed decision. Contact us at 213-250-9461 to talk to our experienced Los Angeles gynecologists today.