The Basics of Menstrual Disorders

The Basics of Menstrual Disorders <i>(cont'd)</i>

Menstrual Cramps, PMS and PMDD

Most women have experienced menstrual cramps before or during their period at some point in their lives. For some, it's part of the regular monthly routine. But if your cramps are especially painful and persistent, you should consult your health care professional.

Pain from menstrual cramps is a result of contractions of your uterus, which are caused by prostaglandins. Prostaglandins circulate in your bloodstream and they can cause diarrhea because they also speed up contractions in your intestines. They can also lower your blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. If you're having severe menstrual pain, you might also find you have some diarrhea or an occasional feeling of faintness where you suddenly become pale and sweaty.

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a term commonly used to describe a wide variety of severe physical and psychological symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of all women experience symptoms severe enough to disrupt their lifestyles. PMS symptoms are more severe and disruptive than the premenstrual symptoms that as many as 75 percent of all women experience.

There are more than 150 documented symptoms of PMS; the most common is depression. Symptoms develop about seven to 10 days before each period, and disappear once your period begins or soon after.

Some of the physical symptoms associated with PMS are:

  • bloating
  • swollen, painful breasts
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • headaches
  • clumsiness