Common Period Problems And How To Manage Them
Each month, your uterus undergoes preparations to create a nurturing environment for a potential baby. It accomplishes this by lining its inner walls with blood tissues. However, if the sperm fails to reach its intended destination, these blood tissues shed themselves and are expelled from your body through the vagina, resulting in a monthly period.
Occasionally, certain complications may arise, causing irregularities in your menstrual cycle. These irregularities can serve as signs of various menstrual disorders.
What are the Most Prevalent Menstrual Issues?
Menstrual problems can vary in type and are typically categorised based on their symptoms and underlying causes. While we have compiled a list of menstrual disorders, it is important to note that it may not encompass all existing conditions. If you experience symptoms not mentioned in this article, it is advisable to consult with your obstetrician-gynaecologist.
Below are some common factors contributing to menstrual irregularities:
Dysmenorrhea (painful periods):
Experiencing pain during menstrual periods is a common occurrence, often resulting from the contraction of the uterus as it expels the blood. Mild to moderate cramps originating from menstruation are typically not a cause for alarm, but they can still be disruptive. However, severe cramps can be incapacitating.
Engaging in regular exercise can provide relief from this pain, and over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol, ibuprofen, and aspirin can also be effective.
However, it is important to note that individuals with asthma or those suffering from stomach, heart, kidney, or liver problems should refrain from taking ibuprofen or aspirin. Additionally, aspirin is not recommended for individuals under the age of 16.
Heavy menstrual bleeding (Menorrhagia)
While it is normal for women to have variations in the heaviness of their periods, if your menstrual flow is so heavy that it significantly impacts your daily life, there are available solutions. It is characterised by a prolonged period of menstrual bleeding lasting more than 8 days. It can also refer to a flow that necessitates changing sanitary pads or tampons every 1-2 hours or even more frequently.
You should discuss your bleeding patterns, including the frequency of changing sanitary protection (such as towels, tampons, period underwear, or menstrual cups), with your doctor.
Treatment options for heavy periods may include:
- Certain forms of hormonal contraception, such as the intrauterine system (IUS) or combined contraceptive pill
- Tranexamic acid tablets
- Anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen or mefenamic acid
- Progestogen tablets
- Surgery (if warranted by the cause)
Irregular menstrual periods
Normally, menstrual periods last between 2 to 7 days, with an average duration of 5 days. The length of the menstrual cycle differs among women, but the average is around 28 days. It is considered normal to have regular cycles ranging from 23 to 35 days.
However, some women experience irregular menstrual cycles. This is characterised by significant variations in:
- The timing between periods, where they may occur earlier or later than expected.
- The amount of blood loss during periods, which can be heavy or light.
- The duration of the period itself.
- Irregular periods can commonly occur during puberty and the perimenopausal stage. Additionally, changing your method of contraception can also disrupt your usual menstrual cycle.
Keeping track of menstrual cycles in a calendar or using smartphone apps can help identify patterns and potential causes. If irregular periods persist, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and personalised treatment plan.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
PMS is believed to be associated with fluctuations in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle.
It's important to note that not all women experience PMS, but for those who do, the symptoms can vary in range and severity.
Common symptoms of PMS may include:
- Mood swings
- Feelings of depression or irritability
- Breast tenderness
Typically, these symptoms begin and intensify during the two weeks leading up to your period, and then gradually subside and disappear once your period starts. Engaging in stress management techniques, such as regular exercise, deep breathing exercises, and meditation, can help alleviate PMS symptoms. Adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while minimising caffeine and salt intake, may also contribute to symptom relief.
The appropriate treatment for your menstrual disorders will depend on the underlying cause of your issues. Birth control pills can be effective in alleviating menstrual cycle problems, including PMS symptoms and heavy bleeding, by regulating your menstrual flow. In cases of abnormal and heavy periods, hormone replacement therapy is often prescribed. However, it is crucial to avoid self-medication as your symptoms and their severity may vary. Consulting with your doctor is essential for receiving personalised medical advice and appropriate treatment based on your specific symptoms.Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or doctor. The Company does not vouch for or endorse any of the above content, and disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied, relating to the same.