What is Abnormal Menstruation
Typically, menstrual periods last four to seven days. Examples of menstrual problems include periods that occur less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart, missing three or more periods in row, and menstrual flow that is much heavier or lighter than usual.
What you should know
Life cycle changes that influence the hormonal balance include puberty, menopause, pregnancy, and childbirth, and breastfeeding.
During puberty, the body undergoes major changes. It can take several years for the estrogen and progesterone to reach a balance, and irregular periods are common at this time.
Before menopause, women often have irregular periods, and the amount of blood shed may vary. Menopause occurs when 12 months have passed since the woman’s last menstrual period. After the menopause, a woman will no longer have periods.
During pregnancy, menstruation ceases, and most women do not have periods while they are breast-feeding.
Contraceptives can cause irregular bleeding. An intrauterine device (IUD) may cause heavy bleeding, while the contraceptive pill can cause spotting between periods.
When a woman first uses the contraceptive pill, she may experience small bleeds that are generally shorter and lighter than normal periods. These usually go away after a few months.
Other changes that are associated with irregular periods include:
- Extreme weight loss
- Extreme weight gain
- Emotional stress
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
- Endurance exercise, for example, marathon running.
Irregular periods can sometimes indicate a health problem, and some of these can lead to further problems, such as fertility issues.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which a number of small, fluid-filled sacs known as cysts develop in the ovaries.
A woman with PCOS does not ovulate, and she does not release an egg every month. Symptoms include irregular or no periods, obesity, acne, and excess hair growth.
Women with PCOS have unusually high levels of the male sex hormone, androgen, or testosterone.
Treatments for menstrual disorders range from over-the-counter medications to surgery, with a variety of options in between. Your treatment options will depend on your diagnosis, its severity, which treatment you prefer, your health history and your health care professional’s recommendation.
Abnormal uterine bleeding
Medication and surgery are used to treat AUB. Typically, less invasive therapies should be considered first. Treatment choices depend on your age, your desire to preserve fertility and the cause of the abnormal bleeding (dysfunctional or structural). Some treatments may reduce your menstrual bleeding to a light to normal flow.
Medication therapy is often successful and a good first option. The benefits last only as long as the medication is taken, so if you choose this route, you should know that medical treatment is a long-term commitment.