There’s nothing quite like menstrual misadventures. Whether it’s debilitating pain, hide-and-seek cycles or a torrential cascade that soaks pad after pad, menstrual disorders manifest in seemingly unkind ways. But they’re also a call for action. Peculiar period patterns usually signal that something isn’t right. In this manual, we scope out the potential culprits behind them.
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A period is the culmination of a menstrual cycle, a 28-day process that involves subtle changes in your reproductive organs. This cycle is pointed at releasing an egg. Left unfertilised, this egg disintegrates along with the uterine lining and emerges as a period. For some women, the menstrual cycle may be shorter or longer than the 28-day average and typically lasts between five and seven days.
Although period patterns differ from woman to woman, there are some signs that stray the path of the ordinary. Painful cramps, heavy bleeding and absent menstruation are all causes for concern and possible indicators of a more serious underlying problem.
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Menstrual disorders are generally classified into four buckets, each highlighted below.
Disorder Description Causes
Those cramps you feel during the first few days of your period?
Blame it on primary dysmenorrhoea. While this pain is normal and caused by the uterus pressing against vital blood vessels, it can cause some discomfort in the early days. However, crippling cramps, also called secondary dysmenorrhoea, maybe spurred on by another health condition like endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
If you find yourself frantically swapping out pads every one hour, your excessive bleeding may point to menorrhagia. 20% of women experience such heavy bleeding that they need to withdraw from their daily lives to manage their flow. Certain stages of life like adolescence and menopause may give rise to heavier bleeding than normal. Menorrhagia also encompasses cases of prolonged periods.
Every woman has had a late period at some point, and while triggers like stress, lifestyle and nutrition can set menstrual cycles back, periods absent for more than three months indicate secondary amenorrhoea. Girls who do not start menstruating until the age of 16 are said to have primary amenorrhoea.
Scanty or infrequent menstruation more than 35 days apart is labelled oligomenorrhoea. This sort of pattern is generally not considered problematic unless the difference between cycles goes on to exceed three months.
Menstrual disorders can be managed with an effective treatment plan. The key is to recognise symptoms early and seek help actively. By cornering the culprit before it corners you, you can escape the pain and uncertainty of abnormal periods. On Cloudnine, we’ve got help ready.