Most women have, at least, a rough idea of when to expect their monthly visitors – the menses. But some are not so lucky. The visitor can just decide to barge in at any time. Irregular menses can be very embarrassing, frustrating and distressing.
I have discussed normal menstrual cycle on this blog before, read it here… http://wp.me/p72X3S-1U
Let’s look at some of the definitions of abnormal menses.
*Menorrhagia – heavy menstrual flow, which can be described subjectively as the need to change pads more frequently than before.
*Metrorrhagia – prolonged menses lasting for more than 9 days.
*Menometrorrhagia – combination of heavy and prolonged menses.
*Hypermenorrhea – cycle length shorter than 24 days.
*Hypomenorrhea – cycle length greater than 38 days.
*Amenorrhoea – absence of menses for 3 or more consecutive months.
*Inter-menstrual bleeding – bleeding or spotting in between the menstrual cycles.
*Post-coital bleeding – bleeding or spotting after sexual intercourse.
*Post menopausal bleeding – bleeding or spotting after menopause (after at least one year of confirmed menopause)
*Irregular menstrual cycle – more than 7-9 days of disparity in lengths of cycles.
What are the causes of irregular menses?
Irregular menses are commoner in pubertal girls (11-14years) and older women who are approaching menopause. Other than these, irregular or abnormal menses can be due to any of the following –
*Psychological stress, physical exertion, or sudden change in diet, environment, etc.
*Problems with ovulation
*Adenomyosis (a condition in which the uterine lining – endometrium – grows into the wall of the uterus)
*Use of contraceptive pills and devices
*Infections of the genital tract including the uterus
*Cancers of the genital tract
*Co-morbid medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, etc.
*Some drugs, alcohol, tobacco smoking, etc.
Management of abnormal menstrual bleeding depends on the cause. You need to visit a doctor who will take a detailed history and carry out some tests to determine the cause.
Some of the tests you have to do are:
*CT scan or MRI, if indicated
*Full blood workup
Of course, treatment depends on the cause or definitive diagnosis. This can be medical or surgical. Certain general measures can be used to restore normal menses; such as weight loss and stress management.
In conclusion, menstrual disorders and irregularities are quite common. It is important to understand the mechanism of normal menses, so as to be able to detect any anomaly and seek professional advice for prompt investigation and treatment.