Menstrual Irregularities

By Spader, Catherine RN

What are menstrual irregularities?

Menstrual irregularities are common abnormalities of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Menstrual irregularities include a variety of conditions in which menstruation is irregular, heavy, painful, or does not occur at all.

Common types of menstrual irregularities include:

  • Amenorrhea (when a teenager does not get her period by age 16, or when a woman stops getting her period for at least three months and is not pregnant)

  • Dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods)

  • Menorrhagia (heavy menstrual periods)

  • Oligomenorrhea (menstrual bleeding occurring more than 35 days after the last menstrual period, that is, less than 10 periods a year)

  • Polymenorrhea (menstrual bleeding occurring less than 21 days after the last menstrual period, that is, more than 12 periods a year)

  • Spotting (light irregular vaginal bleeding or vaginal bleeding between periods)

Menstrual irregularities or their symptoms, such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, can be caused by a wide variety of abnormal conditions, including pregnancy, hormonal imbalances or changes, infection (sexually transmitted diseases and other infections), malignancy (cervical, uterine or vaginal cancer), trauma, and certain medications. Treatment of menstrual irregularities varies and is tailored to the individual case, the underlying cause, the severity of symptoms, and the presence of any complications.

Some menstrual irregularities can be caused by serious, even life-threatening conditions, such as uterine cancer. Seek prompt medical care if you have menstrual irregularities, such as heavy menstrual periods or a lack of menstrual periods. Early diagnosis and treatment of menstrual irregularities reduces the risk of serious complications, such as infertility and metastatic uterine cancer. 

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with menstrual irregularities?

Menstrual irregularities may occur with other symptoms depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. For example, menstrual irregularities due to a pelvic infection may be associated with fever and painful sexual intercourse.... Read more about menstrual irregularitiessymptoms

CAUSES

What causes menstrual irregularities?

Menstrual irregularities can be associated with normal conditions, such as puberty or ovulation. Your menstrual period may last for just a few days or for more than a week. A normal menstrual flow can differ greatly from woman to woman and also varies in different phases of life, such as adolescence and perimenopause. Menstrual irregularities can be caused by a mild or moderate condition, such as stress or uterine fibroids. Menstrual irregularities can also be caused by serious or life-threatening conditions, such as uterine cancer or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).... Read more about menstrual irregularitiescauses

Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian MD Last Annual Review Date: Feb 9, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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