Menstruation is a major stage of puberty in girls and refers to physiological changes happening in women at regular intervals of 21-35 days.
The Menstrual period prepares women for sexual reproduction and fertilisation, having a regular menstrual cycle is a sign of a healthy individual. Any abnormalities such as delayed or early menstrual periods and excessive pain & bleeding during periods can indicate gynaecological conditions requiring medical intervention.
Menstrual irregularities can include:
- Amenorrhea – No menstrual periods until the age of 16 years or absence of menstrual periods
- Dysmenorrhoea – Painful menstruation periods
- Menorrhagia – Excessive bleeding which lasts for 8 to 10 days
- Oligomenorrhoea – Irregular menstrual periods or getting periods frequently
- Premature ovarian failure – Normal function of the ovary stops prior to when menopause is expected
- Uterine Fibroids – Non-cancerous tumours observed in women of child bearing potential
- Endometriosis – Tissues, which normally line the inside of uterus, grow outside the uterus.
Women can also experience other symptoms such as burning while urinating, fever, painful bowel movements, vaginal discharge, painful cramps, and lower back pain. Menstrual irregularities should be diagnosed early to prevent complications such as infertility, anaemia, haemorrhage, and uterine cancer.
There are a variety of treatment options available, depending on the cause and the patient. Treatments can include;
- medication – such as prostaglandin inhibitors, hormone replacement therapy or antibiotics
- dilatation and curettage (D&C) – involving dilation and gentle scraping of the lining of the uterus
- change of contraception – it may be necessary to explore methods of contraception other than the IUD or hormones
- surgery – to remove tumours, polyps or fibroids
- treatment of underlying disorders – such as hypothyroidism or a bleeding disorder
- hysterectomy – the removal of the entire uterus is generally only considered in cases where previous treatment for abnormal uterine bleeding has been unsuccessful or if there is the presence of serious disease, such as cancer (in this case you would be referred to a specialist Oncologist).