When routine symptoms that women experience during their menstrual cycle become problematic for you, your doctor may diagnose a menstrual disorder. You should consult a doctor if you are concerned about any of these symptoms.
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding (AUB)
AUB can be evident in extremely heavy bleeding during your menstrual cycle, no bleeding at all, or irregular bleeding, which may be bleeding between periods or a missed period when pregnancy is not a possibility. Abnormal bleeding is usually caused by hormonal imbalances, which your doctor can identify and treat.
Your doctor also may check for other medical conditions, such as a thyroid problem or infection in the cervix. Both are rare, as is uterine cancer. Sometimes abnormal bleeding can occur because of problems with the uterus, polyps or fibroids.
Dysmenorrhea (severe menstrual cramps)
Mild to moderate pain during menstruation is a common occurrence. Cramping is caused by uterine contractions during menstruation. When the cramping is too strong, it can cut the oxygen supply to the uterus, causing pain. In extreme cases, it can cause vomiting and dizziness.
Extreme or persistent menstrual pain should be checked by your doctor. Usually severe pain can be managed with stronger pain killers or by using oral contraception.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a wide range of physical or emotional symptoms that typically occur 5 to 10 days before a woman starts her monthly menstrual cycle. The symptoms usually stop when the period begins or shortly after. The exact cause of PMS has not been identified. This condition affects up to 75% of woman during their childbearing years. Symptoms appear to get worse in women between the age of 30s and 40s. Some women with severe PMS have premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
The most common physical symptoms include abdominal fullness, bloating, breast tenderness, clumsiness, constipation or diarrhea, headache, food cravings, less tolerance of noises and light. In addition there may be symptoms of tension, anxiety, edginess, feelings of sadness, mood swings and difficulty concentrating.
There are no physical examination findings or lab test specific to the diagnosis of PMS. Keeping a diary log of symptoms for at least 3 months is helpful for your doctor to make a correct diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment.
Premenstrual Dysphonic Disorder (PMDD)
PMDD is experienced by far fewer women, generally only 3 to 8 percent. Symptoms include extreme irritability, anxiety and mood swings, and women who suffer from it report significant interference with daily life and routines.
Women who have experienced postpartum depression or depression in general are considered at greater risk for experiencing PMDD. Sometimes symptoms of depression are not consistent with the menstrual cycle and can persist for weeks or months, although it is more common for symptoms to improve within a few days of completing the monthly cycle. A doctor or therapist can help you with your symptoms.