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Menstrual Disorders  

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)   
  • Stress  

 

Menstrual Disorder Symptoms 

The signs and symptoms of a menstrual disorder will vary according to its type:  

Amenorrhea   

  • No menstrual cycle  
  • Milky discharge from the nipples  
  • Changes in vision  
  • Hair loss  

Dysmenorrhea   

  • Lower abdominal pain and cramping  
  • Low back pain  
  • Pain that travels to the legs  
  • Nausea  

Menorrhagia   

  • Bleeding that lasts longer than one week  
  • Needing to change your pad or tampon every hour or so  
  • Passing large blood clots  
  • Fatigue   

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)  

  • Mood swings  
  • Anxiety or depression  
  • Changes in appetite  
  • Bloating  

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) 

  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks   
  • Severe depression or suicidal thoughts  
  • Intense fatigue   
  • Irritability  

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  
  • Hysteroscopy  
  • 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