Your menstrual cycle can tell you a lot about your health
12 June 2019| Last updated on 15 July 2019
In very few occasions, women have the same menstrual cycle length throughout their entire lifetime, and many factors influence not only its regularity but also the level of pain and other symptoms that accompany periods.
But how do you identify symptoms that require a visit to your gynecologist? Our friends at Pacific Prime Dubai will answer this question today, as well as talk about the most common period problems and how to manage them.
Your menstrual cycle and your health
A menstrual cycle is the monthly hormonal cycle a female’s body goes through to prepare for pregnancy, during which your hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) usually change throughout the cycle and can affect different aspects of your health: emotional, mental, and physical, thus influencing your mood, energy levels, memory, and concentration.
Besides that, some period-related problems may lead or even evolve into other health issues, and at the same time, symptoms of other health conditions might worsen during your period, or get better at other times of your menstrual cycle. Some of the factors that can contribute to period problems include:
- Being under or overweight
These are not all of the possible health conditions that can lead to the most common period problems such as irregular periods, or increased menstrual pain, however, in certain circumstances if the period problem is an exception, it can be explained by one of the above health factors.
The most common period problems
Regular periods between puberty and menopause are a sign that your body is working normally. However, irregular, or painful periods might be a sign of something serious.
The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but shorter cycles of 24 days, and longer cycles of up to 38 days are also considered normal. Irregular periods are also standard for teenage girls and perimenopausal women.
However, when your period happens more often than once every 24 days, or less often than once every 38 days, or you get irregular periods after having regular cycles, you might want to consult your doctor to check exactly what is causing it. If the reason for your irregular period is hormonal imbalance, then most likely your doctor will prescribe you birth control pills, as they are often used to treat this condition.
Besides hormonal imbalance, other causes of irregular periods might include eating disorders, Thyroid problems, obesity, uncontrolled diabetes, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea)
Pain in the abdomen area is the most common problem women have with their periods, and the pain you experience during your period in medical terms is called dysmenorrhea. There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary dysmenorrhea.
Primary dysmenorrhea is pain caused by the contraction of the uterus, and it’s the most common pain women experience during periods, and the pain usually decreases as women age. Typically, you can treat your menstrual pains with over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, or aspirin.
However, if your menstrual pain gets worse as you get older, and lasts longer than the length of your period, you might suffer from secondary dysmenorrhea - a type of menstrual cramp pain that is usually caused by another health problem, such as: endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or ovarian cysts.
Talk to your doctor if the pain cannot be tamed with over the counter painkillers, or if the pain interferes with your day-to-day activities. The doctor will be able to assess the cause, and the best way of treatment, which might include hormonal therapy or even surgery.
Abnormal, or unusual bleeding is any bleeding that is different from your standard menstrual period in form (is heavier), length (lasts longer than eight days), or happens between periods, or after sex/menopause. In all of these instances, you should see your doctor as soon as possible, because you might suffer from an underlying medical condition that causes it, such as:
- Endometriosis - a painful disorder in which tissue that lines the inside of your uterus grows outside of it.
- Ovarian cysts - Unusual bleeding may be a sign of an ovarian cyst that has ruptured.
- Hormonal imbalance/changes - this is especially true during puberty, and menopause, and can be corrected with the right hormonal therapy.
- Cancer, such as uterine, cervical, and ovarian cancer - this is especially true for women having vaginal bleeding after menopause.
After reading the above, you already know that there is no one-can-fix-all approach when it comes to period problems, as they differ between each other in forms and causes. And while leading a generally healthy lifestyle, and managing your weight is advised, there is one thing that all of these issues have in common: they all can be managed with specialist advice.
Rather than wondering what’s going on with your reproductive system when you experience any abnormalities such as pain, longer or irregular and even missing periods, the first thing you should always do in such cases is to consult your gynecologist.
As it happens, Pacific Prime Dubai knows exactly how to choose the best individual health insurance for women in the Emirates, so you won't have to worry about costs related to the treatment of any of the period problems or its complications.
Having medical insurance that covers outpatient treatment is not only a requirement imposed by the DHA, but also something that every woman should have in her plan if she’s serious about her menstrual cycle health.