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Suffering from a menstrual disorder can be stressful. Aside from the obvious stress and pain, they may cause menstrual disorders can be a sign of an underlying issue. Oligomenorrhea, amenorrhea, and dysmenorrhea are three of the most common menstrual disorders. Knowing the signs and symptoms of each and when you should visit your doctor can help determine what is a random abnormality and what could be a sign of something more serious.


What It Is

Oligomenorrhea is a menstrual disorder that results in infrequent, irregular, or extremely light menstrual periods. The average menstrual cycle lasts anywhere between 21 to 35 days. A period that occurs beyond this length of time will be defined as oligomenorrhea or an irregular period.

Signs & Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms you may experience with this menstrual disorder are:

  • Menstrual periods past 35 days.
  • Unusually light menstrual flow.
  • Issues or struggles with fertility.
  • Irregular periods with unpredictable flow.

Possible Causes

Underlying issues that can contribute to the onset of this condition are:

  • Perimenopause
  • Strenuous or heavy exercise
  • Restrictive Dieting
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome(PCOS)
  • Diabetes or Thyroid Issues
  • High levels of the hormone prolactin

When to Seek Help

If you’ve gone 90 days or 3 months without a period and you’ve taken a pregnancy test and it’s showing negative, it’s time to schedule a visit with your doctor. You will need to provide a complete history of your menstrual period as well as providing any key information regarding changes or symptoms you’ve noticed in your body. The doctor may also require additional tests such as a pregnancy test, blood test to assess hormone levels, pelvic ultrasound, and pelvic exam. This will aid in determining if there is an underlying issue such as PCOS, diabetes, thyroid issues, or perimenopause that are contributing to oligomenorrhea. If there is no underlying condition lifestyle changes may need to be made in order to regulate cycles.


What It Is

Amenorrhea is described as the abnormal absence of your monthly cycle which is not due to pregnancy.

Signs & Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms associated with secondary amenorrhea are:

  • Milky nipple discharge
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Vision changes
  • Excess facial hair
  • Pelvic pain
  • Acne
  • An absence of a menstrual period for 6 months or longer

Possible Causes

There are two classifications of amenorrhea known as primary amenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea. Primary amenorrhea is when a young female fails to start her period by the age of 16 and is typically due to a genetic condition. Secondary amenorrhea is when a woman has a normal history of regular periods and then fails to have her monthly cycle for a period of 6 months and she is not pregnant. In this case, a hormonal imbalance or underlying issue may be to blame. Some of the underlying causes that could be contributing to amenorrhea are:

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Emotional and physical stress
  • Rigorous exercise regimen
  • Severe illness
  • Pituitary gland diseases and tumors
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Ovarian failure
  • Discontinuing use of birth control

When to Seek Help

It’s time to visit the doctor and determine exactly what is causing the absence of periods when you have missed 3 periods in a row consecutively or you have gone without your cycle for 3 months. Keeping a record of any and all symptoms that you are experiencing and informing your doctor can be a helpful aid in helping him to determine what could be causing your amenorrhea and determine if a more serious underlying issue is to blame. The doctor may still need to run additional tests such as a pelvic exam, pregnancy test, blood work, and pelvic ultrasound to get a full picture of what is causing your amenorrhea. If there are no underlying medical conditions and no pregnancy, lifestyle changes may need to be implemented to aid in you achieving regular monthly periods.


What It Is

Dysmenorrhea is a menstrual disorder where there is extreme pain and discomfort that is experienced during your monthly period. This pain and discomfort are extreme enough that it can cause disruption in your daily life such as missing work, inability to perform normal day-to-day activities, and disruption in social activities. The pain typically lasts less than 3 days and is located in the lower abdomen and pelvis.

Signs & Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms associated with dysmenorrhea are:

  • Pain in lower abdomen/pelvis, hips, thighs, and low back
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness

Possible Causes

There are two categories for dysmenorrhea known as primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is thought to occur due to increased production of endometrial prostaglandin which contributes to stronger and more intense menstrual cramping. Secondary dysmenorrhea is when a painful menstrual period is due to an underlying issue involving the reproductive organs. Underlying causes or contributing factors for dysmenorrhea are:

  • Adenomyosis
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Cervical Stenosis and Polyps
  • Uterine Fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Ovarian Cysts

When to Seek Help

If you are experiencing a disruption in your day-to-day activities due to painful periods visiting your doctor could help shine a light on methods you can utilize to decrease the amount of pain you are feeling. Methods such as hormonal birth control, or prescription medication can aid in decreasing the amount of pain and discomfort that you experience and help you lead a normal productive life.

You will definitely want to schedule a visit with your doctor if you have not had a prior history of dysmenorrhea and are recently experiencing painful monthly cycles. This may be due to an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. You will want to provide your doctor with your full menstrual history to provide some background information. Additional tests may be needed such as a pelvic exam, blood test, and pelvic ultrasound in order to determine if there is an underlying condition that is contributing to your dysmenorrhea.

Staying in Tune with Your Body

Remaining in tune and connected with your body is important to ensure that you know what is going on with your reproductive health. Knowing and understanding what is normal versus what is not normal for your monthly cycle can be helpful information if you do experience any menstrual abnormalities and can help in alerting you that something may is wrong and prompt you to seek help sooner. Learning more about the Fertility Awareness Method and how it can aid you in taking charge of your reproductive health and spotting potential menstrual disorders. For more information regarding the fertility awareness method, you can check out this web page here.


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