Menstruation is the monthly bleeding women experience as the uterine lining is shed due to hormone fluctuations. This is the body’s way of preparing for pregnancy for the month and readying the uterus for the potential nourishment of an egg. The average length of a menstrual period is from three to five days, although this varies from person to person or even from month to month.
A regular monthly cycle can be an important indicator of gynecological functions. Cycles begin on the first day of menstrual bleeding for the month and are counted through the first day of menstruation the following month. The average cycle is 28 days, but this too varies. A cycle can be anywhere from 21 to 35 days long and still be considered normal.
You may have irregular periods if you get them less than 21 days apart, greater than 35 days apart, or if they are inconsistent from month to month. While many women experience some irregularities after their first period, these tend to regulate within 2 years. Periods may become irregular due to hormone imbalances which may be caused by stress, diet and exercise, or PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Lifestyle modifications as well as prescription medications may help you achieve regular periods.
Dysmenorrhea is a menstrual disorder that involves painful cramps with or without an underlying gynecological disorder. Many women experience dysmenorrhea. Symptoms include abdominal pain, backache, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, and diarrhea. These symptoms typically peak within 24 hours of the start of your period and last only a few days. An evaluation may be done to determine if there is a cause of your painful periods, such as endometriosis or ovarian cysts. Treatment is available and may involve medication or laparoscopy to look for endometriosis.
Heavy menstrual bleeding is a common problem that most women experience at some point in their life. However, some women experience this heavy bleeding during every menstrual cycle, causing it to often affect their daily life.
Women with heavy periods may experience:
- Bleeding for more than 10 days
- Heavy menstrual flow
- Large blood clots in the menstrual flow
- Constant pain in the lower abdomen
Many women can modify their heavy periods with hormonal supplements to balance estrogen and progesterone levels. Dr. Rehder may also recommend anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain symptoms and reduce blood loss, or oral contraceptives to regulate ovulation and control excessive bleeding.
If conservative methods are unsuccessful, surgery may be required. These may include dilation and curettage, endometrial ablation, or hysterectomy. Dr. Rehder has been performing these procedures for over twenty-five years and will recommend the treatment that is the simplest and safest for your particular condition.