Menstrual Disorder – a complex but coordinated interplay amidst hormones (secreted by the brain and ovaries) controls the commencement of menstruation during puberty, the cyclical changes and length of menstrual cycles during the reproductive years and the final cessation of menstruation at menopause
In order to ascertain what comprises menstrual disorder, we need an in-depth understanding of a normal -menstrual-cycle as discussed in a previous article.
Menstrual disorder is a broad term used to describe a number of unusual conditions in the menstrual cycle.
Menstrual disorders occur commonly in female adolescents and young adults. Although rarely life threatening, it can lead to major social and occupational disruption. It can also affect psychological well-being. Often times, menstrual disorder could predicate grave underlying medical problem.
The menstrual cycle like most physiologic processes that occur within our body is readily influenced by internal and external factors; each is a massive subject that will be discussed in subsequent articles. However, menstrual disorders can be broadly classified as follows:
- Abnormal uterine bleeding/ Dysfunctional uterine bleeding
- Absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea)
- Premature menopause (primary ovarian insufficiency)
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
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Common symptoms exhibited by female experiencing any of the menstrual disorders listed above include:
- Lower abdominal cramps- are lower abdominal pain which could be situated on the right or left side experienced few days preceding menstruation extending to some days after menstrual flow begins and this usually varies in severity.
- Periods that occurs less than 21days or more than 35 days apart.
- Bleeding between periods- also called intermenstrual bleeding is any vaginal bleeding that is unrelated to normal menstruation.
- Bleeding after menopause- this is when bleeding occurs from the uterus 12 months after cessation of menstrual period.
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse– is when a woman experiences frequent vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse.
- Unusually heavy menstrual flow– heavy menstrual period is when excessive blood is lost during several consecutive periods.
- Unusually light menstrual flow- is when the menstrual flow is very short and scanty.
- Menstrual flow lasting more than 7 days
- Missing 3 or more period consecutively- is when a woman who was previously menstruating misses 3 or more periods in the absence of pregnancy, production of breast milk, cycle suppression with birth control pills or menopause.
- Absence of menstrual flow in a pubertal female- this describes lack of menstruation at the age of 15 years or within 3 years of start of breast development in a woman with otherwise normal pubertal development.
- Irritability, depression, anxiety, mood swing- these symptoms usually occur prior to commencement of the next menstrual period (about 7 to 14 days).
- Breast tenderness, bloating, headache, constipation- these symptoms occur in relation with menstruation.
These symptoms will be elucidated in subsequent articles when discussing about each of the menstrual disorders earlier listed.
**Females experiencing any of these symptoms are strongly advised against self-medication and are encouraged to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate medical counsel, diagnosis and treatment.
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