The Basics of Menstrual Disorders

Some women sail through their monthly periods with little or no concern. With few symptoms to worry about, other than the menstrual flow itself, their periods are like clockwork, starting and stopping at nearly the same time every month. For other women, however, the menstrual cycle introduces a host of physical and emotional symptoms that cause discomfort or worry. Menstrual cycle disorders include abnormal uterine bleeding, fibroids, premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, among conditions.

Most menstrual cycle disorders are benign, but that doesn't mean that they aren't overwhelming or shouldn't be evaluated. There are many treatment options to correct menstrual cycle disorders. The first and most important step is to discuss your symptoms with your health care professional so he or she can accurately diagnose your condition and help you choose the best way to make your menstrual cycle tolerable.

Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

Heavy menstrual bleeding is a common problem for many women. One in five women bleed so heavily that they sometimes have to put their normal lives on hold just to deal with the heavy blood flow. The general term for this condition is called "abnormal uterine bleeding" (AUB). It is used to describe menstrual periods that are too heavy (menorrhagia), too long (hypermenorrhea) and bleeding that occurs between periods (metrorrhagia). AUB may also be used to describe missed periods (amenorrhea).

How heavy is heavy? In general, AUB describes menstrual bleeding heavy enough to interfere with normal activities. Blood loss during a normal menstrual period is about 2.5 ounces, but if you have AUB, you may bleed as much as 10 to 25 times that amount each month. It's a distressing and, sometimes, painful problem.