A menstrual disorder is a problem that occurs alongside or impacts a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Menstrual disorders—or irregularities associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle—are among the most common reasons why women visit their gynecologist. There are several types of menstrual disorders, including but not limited to:
- Amenorrhea – The absence of a period. There are two forms of this disorder: Primary amenorrhea, which is diagnosed in 16-year-old girls who haven’t begun menstruation, and secondary amenorrhea, which occurs when periods abruptly stop for more than three months at a time.
- Dysmenorrhea – Frequent and particularly intense menstrual cramps.
- Menorrhea – Periods that are especially heavy or long lasting.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – A term used to describe the dozens of physical and emotional changes that may occur alongside menstruation.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) – A form of PMS, PMDD is characterized by especially intense menstrual symptoms.
Menstrual Disorder Causes
Abnormal menstruation is linked to a wide array of factors, such as:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Ovarian cysts
- Genetic factors
- Uterine fibroids
- Blood clotting disorders
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Menstrual Disorder Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of a menstrual disorder will vary according to its type:
- No menstrual cycle
- Milky discharge from the nipples
- Changes in vision
- Hair loss
- Lower abdominal pain and cramping
- Low back pain
- Pain that travels to the legs
- Bleeding that lasts longer than one week
- Needing to change your pad or tampon every hour or so
- Passing large blood clots
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Mood swings
- Anxiety or depression
- Changes in appetite
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Severe anxiety or panic attacks
- Severe depression or suicidal thoughts
- Intense fatigue
Menstrual Disorder Diagnosis
Women who experience changes in their normal menstrual cycle should consult with a gynecologist. This physician will evaluate the patient’s medical history, family history and symptoms and may perform one or more of the following tests to make a diagnosis:
- Ultrasound imaging
- Endometrial biopsy
- Blood and/or urine tests
Menstrual Disorder Treatments
Tampa General Hospital’s Women’s Institute is led by a multidisciplinary team of experts who routinely evaluate and treat menstrual disorders. Individual care plans vary, but some common treatment approaches for menstrual disorders include:
- Healthy lifestyle changes to help control symptoms
- Birth control pills to regulate or lighten periods
- Surgery to remove cysts, fibroids or the uterine lining