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Menstrual Disorder Prevention

For menstrual cycle-related problems, such as cramping or premenstrual syndrome, you can take steps to prevent or minimize your discomfort and pain. For menstrual cramps, you can take over-the-counter medications when you know your period and your particular symptoms are about to start. The medications, discussed in other sections, include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ask your health care professional for generic or brand names that would be best for you.

While you may not be able to prevent PMS symptoms, there are many strategies you can use to prepare for them and in some cases make the symptoms less severe.

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Changing your diet, exercising and adopting a regular sleep pattern can all help. See the "Treatment" section for more specifics.

  • Change your diet by reducing refined sugars, salt, nicotine, caffeine and alcohol, which can aggravate PMS symptoms.
  • Exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes three times a week.
  • Sleep consistent hours and establish a bedtime routine to help cue your body and mind for sleeping
  • Keep a premenstrual symptom checklist to be prepared for highs and lows

For PMDD, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, particularly a type called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, can be taken for as few as seven days each cycle to prevent disruptive symptoms.

Additionally, women who experience chronic ovulation problems — failure to ovulate — can regulate their cycles by continuing to take oral contraceptives. In fact, regulating menstrual cycles is extremely important in order to prevent uterine (endometrial) cancer.

Abnormal uterine bleeding can be managed and treated once it develops, but it cannot be prevented.

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Researchers are currently evaluating the effectiveness of an experimental procedure that utilizes focused ultrasound heating, monitored and controlled by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to destroy uterine fibroids. In previous studies, this ultrasound-based treatment has been shown to be effective in treating breast tumors.

Researchers are also currently investigating novel therapeutic strategies that target fibroid growth factors and their receptors. Promising therapeutic agents currently under evaluation are the antifibrolytic drug, pirfenidone and a human protein called interferon-alpha.

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Photodynamic therapy is an investigational procedure that has shown some promise in reducing heavy bleeding with minimal side effects. The technique involves the intravenous administration of a light-sensitive, cell-killing drug that is absorbed by the endometrium. A small probe is then inserted into the uterine cavity, through which laser light is transmitted for a few minutes. The light activates the cell-killing drug and the endometrium is destroyed.

Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) is another investigational procedure that administers low-level electrical pulses to suppress back pain. The technique is being investigated for blocking pain in the uterus.

A microwave device developed by Microsulis Corporation is also being tested to destroy the uterine lining. Microwave endometrial ablation applies very low-power microwaves to the uterus, which limits tissue destruction only to the lining without causing any unnecessary harm to other tissues.

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