Menstrual issues are abnormalities or disorders that affect the normal menstrual flow of a woman. The menstrual cycle is a recurring process in a female’s body that prepares her for pregnancy. It typically starts with hormonal changes that lead to menstruation and ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary). However, menstrual issues can affect the regularity, intensity, duration, or overall experience of your menstrual cycle, leading to various symptoms and challenges.
Here, we explore some common menstrual issues women face monthly and how to address them.
Common Menstrual Issues and Their Causes
14 to 25% of women experience menstrual irregularities. However, every woman feels menstrual issues differently. Some common menstrual issues women may face include:
1. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a common issue some girls and women experience a few days before their period. It occurs due to hormonal changes. Hormones are like messengers in your body. They sometimes make you feel different emotions or physical changes. For women, these hormonal changes may range from mild annoyance to irritability and mood swings. Some women may even feel bloated or experience tender breasts. Still, while PMS is common, its intensity and symptoms may vary for each woman.
2. Painful Periods (Dysmenorrhea)
Painful periods happen when you feel pains or cramps around your lower abdomen or pelvic floor during menstruation. The reason behind this menstrual pain is because of some chemicals called "prostaglandins." As the menstrual cycle draws near, the uterus (the womb) contracts to push out its lining, which builds up every month. The prostaglandins are what tell the uterus to contract, causing the muscle to tense up. In the end, you feel period pain.
3. Absent Periods (Amenorrhea)
If your period doesn't come when you expect it to, it is called an absent period or amenorrhea. This can happen if you are too young and your body is still getting ready or if you are older and approaching menopause. Sometimes, stress, certain medicines, or medical conditions can also cause your periods to be absent. However, if you experience a normal menstrual cycle and one day your period does not come as expected, it may signify underlying health issues, especially if you are not sexually active.
4. Heavy Periods (Menorrhagia)
Having a heavy period means you bleed a lot more than usual. This can happen for different reasons. Sometimes, it's because your hormones are a little out of balance. Other times, it might be because of a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or even just the way your body naturally works. Regardless, having a heavy period might mean you need to change pads or tampons more often than usual. Sometimes you may feel tired and weak because you are losing more blood.
5. Irregular Periods (Oligomenorrhea)
Your period usually comes around the same time each month, but sometimes it might not be so predictable. When this happens, it is called irregular periods. Irregular periods are often caused by stress, sudden weight changes, intense exercise, or conditions like PCOS. Due to these changes, your body's hormonal balance can get off track, making your periods irregular.
How to Address Menstrual Issues
Every woman feels menstrual pain differently. So, the best way to address your menstrual challenge is to first understand how your body works and find suitable remedies to ease your menstrual issues. Regardless, some of the best ways to address menstrual issues include:
• Keep Track of Your Cycle
If you have irregular periods, the first thing you need to do is track your menstrual flow. It will help you identify patterns, irregularities, and symptoms to know when to get help. To track your menstrual flow, download a menstrual tracking app or use a calendar.
• Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Exercise and getting a nutritional diet can help alleviate your period pain more than you think. When you start feeling PMS symptoms or period pain, try yoga or deep breathing exercises to ease your tensed muscles and reduce stress.
• Use a Pain Relief Machine to Ease Period Pain
For people that experience painful periods, a pain relief machine can be a good way to ease your menstrual pain. A pain relief machine is a device that uses electrical pulses to send signals to your lower abdomen or pelvic area where you feel period pain. These signals will relax the tensed muscles around your pain area and numb the pain so you can go about your daily activity without worrying about painful cramps.
The best part is they are non-invasive, and with a period pain relief machine, you won’t have any need for over-the-counter pain relief pills or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage your cramps.
• Pain Relief Pills
Many people also prefer using pain relief medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease period pain. While taking these pills according to the recommended dosage can make you feel better, pain relief medications can also have potential adverse effects. For instance, long-term use may cause kidney problems or liver damage. You may even experience allergic reactions like itching, rashes, and swelling. In mild cases, you may only feel stomach pain.
• Use Natural Remedies
If you have period pain, drinking herbal tea made from certain plants like ginger or chamomile can help soothe your cramps and make you feel better. Besides this, aromatherapy with lavender, clary sage, or rosemary oils might help manage stress and pain.
Everyone’s body is unique, and what you experience might be different from others. If you have concerns about your menstrual cycle or how you feel during your period, it's a good idea to talk to a doctor. They can help figure out what's going on and suggest ways to make you feel better.