Menstrual disorders include:
- Painful cramps (dysmenorrhea) during menstruation. Primary dysmenorrhea is directly related to and caused by menstruation. Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by another condition, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
- Heavy bleeding (menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, or menometrorrhagia) includes prolonged menstrual periods or excessive bleeding.
- Absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) can be either primary or secondary. Primary amenorrhea is considered when a girl does not begin to menstruate by the age of 16. Secondary amenorrhea occurs when periods that were previously regular stop for at least three months.
- Light or infrequent menstruation (oligomenorrhea) refers to menstrual periods that occur more than 35 days apart. It usually is not a cause for concern, except if periods occur more than 3 months apart.
Treatment for Menstrual Disorders
Treatment options for menstrual disorders include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, or acetaminophen can help provide pain relief for cramps.
- Oral contraceptives can help regulate menstrual periods and reduce heavy bleeding. Newer continuous-dosing oral contraceptives reduce or eliminate menstrual periods. The LNG-IUS (Mirena), a progesterone intrauterine device, is often recommended as a first-line treatment for heavy bleeding
- Endometrial ablation is a surgical option. In some cases, hysterectomy may be considered.
- In 2009, the FDA approved the LNG-IUS (Mirena) to treat heavy menstrual bleeding. It is the first intrauterine device (IUD) approved by the FDA for treatment of menorrhagia.
- In 2009, the FDA approved the first non-hormonal medication for treatment of menorrhagia. Tranexamic acid (Lysteda) is a pill that helps blood to clot. However, the FDA warns that if it is taken by women who use hormonal contraceptives it may increase the risk of blood clots, stroke, or heart attacks.
Review Date: 07/26/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.