Menstrual Issues

Your menstrual cycle can vary over time. This may include slight irregularities from month to month, such as your period being shorter or longer from one month to the next. Your menstrual cycle is also likely to change with age – with heavier flows when you are young that gradually become lighter as you get older. On top of that, what is considered a “normal” menstrual cycle can vary wildly from woman to woman.

What Is a “Normal” Menstrual Cycle?

A menstrual cycle consists of the reproductive changes women’s bodies go through every month during their childbearing years.

The cycle begins with the first day of your period and includes all the changes occurring behind the scenes until the first day of your next period. A 28-day cycle is considered average. This means it takes 28 days from the first day of your period until the first day of your next period. However, the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle can range anywhere between 21 days to 35 days and still be considered normal. The most important distinguishing feature of a normal menstrual cycle is that it is normal and healthy for you.

A typical 28-day cycle includes the following events:

Days 1-5

Bleeding as the lining of the uterus is shed, indicating no pregnancy has occurred. Bleeding may occur for as little as 2 days or as many as 7 days.

Day 6-14

Estrogen and other hormone levels rise, leading to the development of a mature egg in the ovaries and the thickening of the lining of the uterus. On the last day of this phase, the ovary releases the egg in an act called ovulation.

Day 15-28

The egg travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus. If it becomes fertilized and attaches to the uterine wall, pregnancy occurs. If not, hormone levels drop, until the lining of the uterus is shed.

If you have a regular menstrual cycle, it tends to be the same length each month and is predictable. If what is normal for you changes, you may have a menstrual issue. Talk to your gynecologist at EstrogenicA Health 360 if you experience a sudden or gradual change in your menstrual cycle. Your OB-GYN provider can help identify what is normal for you, as well as what might indicate a medical problem that requires treatment.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a collection of side effects that you may experience during the normal hormonal changes that occur with your monthly menstrual cycle. In most cases, the signs and symptoms of PMS occur after ovulation and before a period – that is, during days 15-28 of a typical menstrual cycle. These signs and symptoms may include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Bloating
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Increased appetite
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Weight gain

PMS symptoms typically disappear on their own, shortly after your period starts.

There are ways to lessen the severity of PMS symptoms, although no single treatment works for everyone. For many women, hormone-based birth control offers relief from PMS symptoms. Ask your EstrogenicA Health 360 provider what PMS treatment may work best for you.

Menstrual Irregularity

Some of the most common types of menstrual irregularities include:

Heavy Periods

Heavy periods are fairly common. When your period lasts longer than 7 days or involves a heavy flow, it is called menorrhagia (heavy periods). Having to change a tampon or pad within a couple of hours may indicate you suffer from heavy periods. Left untreated, heavy periods can cause anemia, fatigue, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Your EstrogenicA Health 360 provider can help identify the cause of your heavy periods, which will help determine what treatment will work best for you. Common causes of heavy periods include a hormone imbalance, uterine fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, blood thinning medications, and more.

Absent Periods

Amenorrhea (absent periods) occurs when your periods stop for 3 months or longer. There are a variety of reasons why your period may stop, including:

  • Hormone-based birth control
  • As a side effect of certain medication, including antidepressants, chemotherapy, and allergy relief drugs
  • Eating disorders or being significantly underweight
  • Stress (which can impair the release of hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle)
  • Excessive exercise
  • Certain medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid dysfunction (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism)
  • Scarring of the uterine or obstruction of the vagina
  • Ovarian cysts

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your absent periods.

Delayed or Erratic Periods

Oligormenorrhea is the term that describes delayed or erratic periods, such as having fewer than 8 periods in a 12-month period.

This condition may occur due to the same causes of absent periods. Likewise, treatment will depend on the reason for the delayed or erratic periods.

Painful Periods

The discomfort of menstrual cramps during your period is normal – but if the pain you experience is severe and persistent, you should seek the expert advice of your OB-GYN provider at EstrogenicA Health 360.

Dysmenorrhea (painful periods) can be treated, depending on its cause. For example, severe and recurrent cramping during your period may indicate:

  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease, a bacterial infection
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Imbalance of the chemical prostaglandin, which controls uterine contractions during menstruation
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Tumors

PMS Treatment in Dothan and Enterprise, AL

Our team of all-female OB-GYN providers at EstrogenicA Health 360 in Dothan and Enterprise, Alabama, can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions that can lead to menstrual cycle irregularities, such as heavy periods, absent periods, and painful periods. We also offer a variety of PMS treatments that may work for you.