Menstrual Health and Menstrual Disorders
Approximately 1.8 billion people (girls, women, transgender men, and non-binary) menstruate each month in the entire world. Teenagers’ lives enter a new phase with the onset of menstruation, which also brings with it new challenges and vulnerabilities. Most of these people lack basic menstrual health knowledge. However, many adolescent girls experience stigma, bullying, and social exclusion when they are menstruating. Due to discrimination based on gender identity, transgender men and non-binary people are denied access to the resources and facilities they require.
Menstrual health and hygiene requirements may not be met due to gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty, and a lack of basic services like toilets and sanitary products.
This has significant repercussions for millions of people. It limits their freedom of movement and personal preferences. It has a major impact on community involvement and school attendance. Additionally, it jeopardizes their security, adding to their stress and worry. Interventions for menstrual hygiene and health can aid in overcoming these challenges. They not only meet the unmet need for menstrual hygiene products, but they also uphold adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health, while also protecting their dignity and boosting their self-esteem.
Use healthy routines while on your period.
Maintaining good menstrual hygiene and health can help you avoid infections, lessen odors, and stay at ease while you’re on your period. To absorb or collect blood during your period, you can choose from a variety of menstrual products, such as sanitary pads, tampons, menstrual cups, menstrual discs, and period underwear. In addition to the instructions provided with the product, remember the following advice when using menstrual products:
- Before using a menstrual product, wash your hands both before and after using the restroom.
- Wrap used disposable menstrual products in toilet paper, a tissue, or another material before throwing them in the trash. Menstrual products should never be flushed down the toilet.
- No matter how little the flow, change your sanitary pads every few hours. If your period is heavy, change them more frequently.
- Tampons: Replace them every four to eight hours. A single tampon should not be worn for longer than 8 hours at a time.
- Menstrual cups: After each use, clean the cups thoroughly. After your period has ended, sanitize menstrual cups by giving them a thorough rinse and then putting them in a pot of boiling water for one to two minutes.
- Most reusable period undergarments are machine washable. To clean effectively, adhere to the product’s instructions.
While on your period, you can maintain your health and comfort by following these hygiene precautions:
- Wear breathable, lightweight clothing, such as cotton underwear. Tight clothing can keep heat and moisture in, which helps germs grow.
- Regularly replace your menstrual products. Moisture that is trapped serves as a haven for bacteria and fungi to grow. A rash or infection can develop if you use a pad or period underwear for an extended period.
- Maintain a clean genital area. Every day, wash the outside of your vulva (vagina) and bottom. When using the restroom, wipe your body from the front to the back, not the other way around. Rinse your vulva with nothing but water.
- It can be harmful and lead to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis to alter the natural pH balance of your vagina by washing it or using chemicals to clean it out.
- Use pads, tampons, or toilet paper without scents. The skin can become inflamed, and your natural pH balance can be affected by scented hygiene products.
- Obtain sufficient liquids. By washing out your urinary system, you can avoid infections like vaginal candidiasis.
- Keep tabs on your period. Your menstrual cycle serves as an important barometer of your general health. Period irregularities may indicate health issues like diabetes, thyroid issues, or celiac disease. On a calendar or through a phone app, you can keep track of your period.
- Make an appointment with a doctor for your yearly checkup. A pap smear, a pelvic exam, and a breast exam are all parts of an annual well-woman exam. These examinations are crucial for maintaining reproductive health because they can identify early indications of cancer or other illnesses.
- If you notice a change in odor, experience intense or unusual pain, or experience more severe period symptoms than usual (such as a heavier flow or longer period), consult a doctor.
What Causes Period Disorders?
Before your period, menstrual cycles frequently cause several uncomfortable symptoms. Mild cramping, fatigue, and other common problems are all included in premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but the symptoms usually disappear once your period starts.
But there might also be other, more severe menstrual issues. Too much or too little bleeding, or the complete lack of a cycle, may indicate that additional problems are causing the irregular menstrual cycle.
Remember that every woman’s definition of a “normal” menstrual cycle is unique. Your normal cycle might be abnormal for someone else. It’s critical to pay attention to your body and to contact your doctor if you notice any changes.
How do Menstruation Cycles work?
Your menstrual cycle, which includes changes to your ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts every 28 days on average, includes your menstrual period. Normal menstrual cycles vary in length, some being a little longer than others. Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period. The typical menstrual cycle lasts between five and seven days. Your “normal” menstrual cycle might not be the same as someone else’s idea of “normal.”
Let’s learn more about the reproductive system in women.
The female reproductive system consists of the following organs and structures:
- A pear-shaped organ, the uterus is situated between the bladder and the lower intestine.
- The lower part of the uterus is known as the cervix. The menstrual blood can drain from the uterus into the vagina to the cervical canal, which connects the uterine cavity and vagina.
- The uterus and ovaries are connected by the fallopian tubes. The ovaries, which produce eggs, contain 200,000–400,000 follicles (from the Latin word folliculus, which means “sack”). The components required to produce mature eggs or ova, are housed within these cellular sacks. Within the follicle, an egg grows.
- The lining of the uterus inside is called the endometrium. It thickens and gets more blood vessels during pregnancy to accommodate and support the developing fetus.
- The endometrium is shed, and menstruation begins if pregnancy does not happen at the end of the menstrual cycle. Blood and mucus from the cervix and vagina make up menstrual flow.
- Between the bladder and the rectum in the female pelvis, the uterus is a hollow, muscular organ. The eggs that pass through the fallopian tubes are created in the ovaries. The egg can be fertilized and implanted in the uterine lining after it has left the ovary. The uterus’ primary job is to feed the growing fetus up until birth.
Disorders of the Menstrual Cycle
You may have a menstrual cycle “disorder” if one or more of the symptoms you experience before or during your period cause you problems. These consist of:
- AUB, which can include irregular menstrual bleeding, heavy menstrual bleeding, or no menstrual bleeding (amenorrhea), refers to abnormal uterine bleeding.
- Painful menstrual periods, or dysmenorrhea
- PMS, or premenstrual syndrome
- PMDD is a premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Women occasionally experience menstrual irregularities. Amenorrhea is the term for this. When your first period doesn’t start by the age of 16, you have primary amenorrhea. This might be brought on by a pituitary gland problem, a congenital flaw in the female reproductive system, or a postponement of puberty. When you don’t get your regular periods for six months or longer, secondary amenorrhea develops.
In teenagers’ primary and secondary amenorrhea is frequently brought on by the following factors:
- Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland
- Ovarian polyps
- Swiftly gaining or losing weight
- Stopping a pregnancy under birth control
Adults who do not menstruate frequently experience a variety of common causes. These may consist of:
- Untimely ovarian death
- Infection that affects reproduction in the pelvis
- Stopping a pregnancy under birth control
- Menopause while nursing
- A missed period may indicate pregnancy. Make sure to get a pregnancy test if you think you might be pregnant.
When you are menstruating, dysmenorrhea causes painful cramps that are severe and persistent. Primary dysmenorrhea starts when your period starts and lasts the rest of your life. Usually, it lasts a lifetime. Due to strong and unusual uterine contractions, it can result in severe and frequent menstrual cramping.
Secondary Dysmenorrhea. This kind is brought on by a physical reason. Typically, it develops later in life. It might be brought on by another illness, like endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.
There are many different signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, exhaustion, and irritability. Premenstrual syndrome is thought to have affected up to 3 out of every 4 women who are menstruating.
A predictable pattern of recurrence exists for symptoms. However, the physical and emotional changes you go through with premenstrual syndrome can range from barely perceptible to severe.
You don’t have to let these issues dictate how you live, though. Premenstrual syndrome symptoms and signs can be lessened or managed with the aid of treatments and lifestyle changes.
Extreme menstrual bleeding
One in five women experience such heavy bleeding during their periods that they are forced to put their regular lives on hold to manage the flow of blood.
If bleeding hinders daily activities, it is deemed heavy bleeding. A typical menstrual period involves about 5 tablespoons of blood loss, but if you have heavy menstrual bleeding, you may bleed up to 10 to 25 times as much per month. Instead of changing a tampon or pad three or four times a day, you might need to do so every hour.
When you first start menstruating as a teenager and as you approach menopause in your late 40s or early 50s, heavy menstrual bleeding can be common at different stages of your life.
Any vaginal bleeding that occurs after menopause should be discussed with a medical professional as soon as possible. Any vaginal bleeding following menopause is abnormal and needs to be checked out right away by a medical professional.
Significant menstrual bleeding may result from:
- Medical conditions hormonal imbalances structural issues with the uterus, such as polyps or fibroids.
- Hormones are frequently cited as the cause of heavy menstrual bleeding by affected women. The reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are needed to maintain your menstrual cycle, may be produced by your body in excess or insufficient amounts.
- For instance, many women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding don’t ovulate regularly. In a typical menstrual cycle, ovulation—the release of an egg—occurs around day 14. Hormone level changes aid in ovulation induction.
The following conditions may also cause heavy bleeding:
- Ectopic pregnancy, which happens when a fertilized egg starts to grow outside of your uterus, usually in your fallopian tubes, is one of the risks associated with an IUD, along with fibroids and miscarriage.
- infections, uterine lining cancer, and other conditions
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a more serious health issue than premenstrual syndrome (PMS). There’s a good chance that you’ve experienced PMS of some kind ever since your period began. According to doctors, up to 75 percent of women who have periods experience PMS symptoms, such as food cravings, cramps, tender breasts, mood swings, or fatigue.
PMDD, however, is distinct. Similar to PMS, it causes emotional and physical symptoms, but women who have PMDD find their symptoms to be exhausting. Your daily activities, such as work, school, social life, and romantic relationships, may be hampered by your PMDD symptoms.
Preventive measures: –
- Unusual uterine bleeding cannot be stopped, but it can be controlled once it starts.
- By continuing to use oral contraceptives, women with chronic ovulation issues—failure to ovulate—can control their bleeding.
- You can take measures to avoid or lessen your discomfort and pain for other menstrual cycle-related issues, such as cramping or premenstrual syndrome.
- Furthermore, modifying your diet, getting more exercise, and establishing a regular sleep schedule can all help with PMS and PMDD symptoms. Try, specifically:
- Modifying your diet to cut back on substances that can exacerbate PMS symptoms, such as refined sugars, salt, tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Exercising for at least 20 to 30 minutes, ideally for at least 30 minutes, five days a week.
- Getting regular amounts of sleep and establishing a bedtime routine can help your body and mind prepare for sleep.
Diagnosis of Menstrual Disorders: –
Seeing your doctor is the first step in diagnosing menstrual issues. Your doctor will understand about your symptoms and how long you have been dealing with them. Having notes on your menstrual cycle, its regularity, and any symptoms you have been experiencing may be helpful. These notes can be used by your doctor to determine what is abnormal.
Your doctor will probably perform a pelvic exam in addition to a physical examination. Your doctor can examine your reproductive organs during a pelvic exam and determine whether your cervix or vagina is inflamed. To rule out the possibility of cancer or other underlying conditions.
If you’re experiencing menstrual issues, blood tests can help you figure out whether hormonal imbalances are the reason or not. During your visit, your doctor or nurse practitioner may order a blood or urine pregnancy test if you think you might be pregnant.
To identify the cause of your menstrual problems, your doctor may also perform the following tests: –
- Endometrial biopsy (a procedure that takes a sample of your uterine lining for later analysis) a small camera is inserted into your uterus during a hysteroscopy to help your doctor look for any anomalies.
- Use ultrasound to create a picture of the uterus.
Taking Care of Menstrual Issues
The course of treatment will depend on what is causing your menstrual cycle issues. Birth control pills can control heavy periods and reduce PMS symptoms. If a heavier or lighter than usual flow is caused by a thyroid condition or another hormonal disorder, hormone replacement therapy may help you feel more regular.
Although dysmenorrhea may be caused by hormones, you may also need additional medical care to address the issue.