Flow, Interrupted: 3 Menstrual Irregularities To Tell Your Doctor About

Primary care is hugely important in gynecology -- as the health of your reproductive system tends to be cyclical, it's crucial to visit a doctor who knows your health history personally to ensure that nothing gets overlooked or ignored. When it comes to your menstrual cycle, it can be hard to tell what's normal and what you should tell your doctor about. If you're wondering exactly when an odd cycle becomes abnormal and needs to be tracked and reported, then here are a few menstrual conditions you may want to know about.


If your periods are or have become much longer and heavier (more than 7 days and/or 80ml of blood) than the average, you may have a condition called menorrhagia. A quick way to tell exactly how much blood you're losing during your period is to look at the size of tampon you use up; a small tampon will hold about 5ml of blood, while a super-sized tampon will hold double that. Menorrhagia can be a sign of multiple issues, from a clotting disorder to hypothyroidism, so your doctor will want to run blood tests and probably get a pap smear done to determine the problem.


On the other end of the spectrum is amenorrhea, where you have a complete absence of a period, even though you aren't anywhere near menopause yet. While primary amenorrhea is a condition where your periods never start, chances are the type of amenorrhea you'll encounter is secondary, where your menstrual cycles abruptly cease.

Generally, secondary amenorrhea comes as a result of a dysfunction within either your pituitary gland or your thyroid, both of which play a part in your body's hormone production; it can also occur as a result of anorexia or (most commonly) pregnancy. If your doctor confirms a diagnosis of amenorrhea, you will generally be given estrogen supplements to help get your hormones back on track.


Pain during your period is nothing new -- most women experience some type of discomfort during their cycle, whether it's cramps, tender breasts, or aching joints. When the pain becomes excessive, interfering with your ability to go about your daily tasks, however, your doctor may label it premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD. PMDD is thought to affect anywhere from 3-8% of women, and presents with anxiety, depression, and food issues (under- or over-eating), along with excruciating pain. If your doctor diagnoses you with PMDD, they will probably prescribe you SSRIs, which only have to be taken when your symptoms occur. Click here if you want to learn more about gynecology.