Menstruation / Period
In general, a regular menstrual cycle occurs every 21 – 35 days with bleeding lasting 2 – 7 days. You may experience some cramping during a heavy flow at the start of your period. Regularity of a period can depend on age, body weight, stress or other underlying health conditions. Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) such as tiredness and bloatedness are commonly experienced around 1 week before a period. Some adolescents may experience abnormal menstruation, which are listed below.
Dysmenorrhoea (Painful Periods)
- Dysmenorrhoea refers to severe and frequent cramps experienced during menstruation.
- It is more commonly experienced in adolescents and young women due to the release of prostaglandin, which causes the uterus muscles to contract as the lining is shed.
- However, severe menstrual cramps may also be caused by underlying conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids or cysts.
- The pain is often managed using painkillers such as mefenamic acid
- If the pain gets worse progressively, it may be wise to consult a gynaecologist to understand the cause.
Irregular Menses (Infrequent Menses / Overly Frequent Menses)
- An irregular menstrual cycle is one that occurs less than 21 days (polymenorrhoea) or more than 35 days apart (oligomenorrhoea).
- It is a common occurrence in adolescence.
- Some adolescent girls may not develop a regular cycle for several years after starting their period.
- Your menstrual cycle may gradually regulate or stay irregular into adulthood.
- Most menstrual disorders may be managed with lifestyle changes such as diet and adequate rest or pain relief medication.
- If you feel that self-care practices are not adequately addressing these issues, seek a gynaecologist’s advice for a further examination.
Menorrhagia (Excessive Bleeding)
- Menorrhagia occurs when the menstruation lasts longer and is heavier than normal.
- Indications of excessive bleeding include having to change a pad or tampon every 1 – 2 hours, having huge blood clots, having flooding episodes, having to use double pads to prevent overflow, or having heavy periods lasting for 8 – 10 days or more.
- Menorrhagia may be caused by a variety of reasons, including hormonal imbalances which are common during the initial occurrences of menstruation.
- However, they may also be a symptom of uterine fibroids, uterine polyps, endometriosis, or a bleeding disorder.
- As a result of the excessive bleeding, many women with menorrhagia suffer from anemia.
- Signs of anemia include feeling tired easily and paleness of the skin.
Amenorrhoea (Absence of Periods)
- Amenorrhoea is characterised by the absence of any menstrual period by 16 years of age, or absence of any period for 6 consecutive months without pregnancy.
- It may be the result of a delay in puberty, hormonal imbalances, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Lifestyle factors such as weight changes (gain or loss), stress or excessive exercising may also lead to an absence of periods.
If you experience any of these abnormal menstruation symptoms, it is important to seek help early.