Typically, a woman’s menstruation cycle begins when she hits puberty and continues until menopause. This means that most women will experience their monthly period right from the time they are 13 to the time they are 50! For many women, their monthly period is nothing more than an annoyance; but other women may suffer from cramps, nausea, and migraines. Dysmenorrhea is a menstruation problem that induces severe cramps and pain during menstruation. Underlying problems like endometriosis or fibroids are sometimes present, and add to the discomfort. Amenorrhea is a more serious menstrual problem as it is the delayed onset of menstruation in young girls. Sometimes, women who have had regular menstruation suddenly miss their period for two to three months – this is called menorrhea. There could be just one cause for menorrhea or there could be a combination of causes including pregnancy, an imbalance in hormones, or physiological deformities in the reproductive system.
Symptoms of Menstrual Problems
It is not always easy to separate normal menstruation symptoms from the symptoms of menstrual problems such as dysmenorrhea or menorrhea. Normal menstruation symptoms include digestive problems such bloating and constipation, headaches and muscle pain, and tenderness in the breasts. PMS or Premenstrual syndrome is very common and it covers a variety of physical and emotional symptoms that a woman may experience before she has her period. Stress, anxiety, tension, and unhappiness are common PMS symptoms. On the other hand, the symptoms of menstrual problems generally includes a change in menstrual patterns such as the absence of bleeding, or an unusually light flow, or an unusually heavy flow. Sudden pain or cramps can also be a cause for concern and dizzy or fainting spells require medical attention.
Causes of Menstrual Problems
When there are menstrual problems in the cycle, they can be due to any of a number of causes. There can be no periods, too frequent periods, very painful periods, or periods with unpredictable menstrual bleeding. Any one of a host of conditions can cause menstrual irregularities. Amenorrhea is not a disease, but a symptom of another condition which is wider in scope and would call for extensive study. It could be the result of eating disorders, physical or psychological stress, hormonal imbalance or tumors. It is important to see your doctor to identify the cause of your amenorrhea, because treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
Menstrual bleeding can last for anywhere between 2 to 8 days. If the period of bleeding is more that that or less it could mean that there is a menstrual problem. Painful menstruation is an accepted condition known as dysmenorrhea. Sometimes the pain is felt a couple of days before, or immediately before, or during the flow. This could be due to a hormone imbalance or due to the onset of menopause, which is a natural occurrence. At any other time it is abnormal and denotes a condition of debility and weakness. The most likely cause for this condition would be worry, grief, or fright, or more serious causes like malformation of the womb, displacement of the womb, tuberculosis, or debility after a long illness. Failure to ovulate can be due to a thyroid disease, excessive menstrual flow, being overweight, emotional stress, being underweight or malnourished, and similar conditions.
Remedies for Menstrual Problems
- If your periods do not go as per schedule you may feel a bit vexed. One of the best home remedies for delayed periods would be to grind radish seeds and consume this powder along with buttermilk on a daily basis. Parsley is another effective herb for menstruation disorders, especially in the case of delayed periods. In fact the best way treat menstrual problems is to drink parsley juice on a regular basis. You can add a generous amount of fresh parsley to the carrots you juice and have this mixed juice on a daily basis.
- Women who wish to avoid pharmaceutical drugs can try several home remedies for heavy menstrual bleeding. The banana flower is used in cases of heavy bleeding. The gooseberry has a high content of vitamin C and so it is effective for heavy bleeding.
- An effective home remedy for menstrual irregularities would be to eat unripe or raw papaya. The raw papaya contains an enzyme called Papain which ensures a proper menstrual flow. It is also effective for women whose menstruation has been adversely affected by stress and tension.
- Sip chamomile tea every morning during your menstrual cycle. This is an effective home remedy for menstrual cramps and pain.
- Recline in your favorite chair with a hot water bottle on your stomach. Relax and unwind with a magazine or your favorite book and you will notice that the severity of your cramps will reduce almost immediately.
- A low-intensity work-out can help to ease muscle cramps and body aches. Discuss your workout schedule with your doctor and ask him/her to suggest a few exercises for menstrual pain.
- Yoga breathing exercises can help to eliminate the emotional problems such as anxiety, stress, and tension that are associated with PMS. Set aside a few minutes each day for these exercises and if it is possible, try to schedule a morning session as well as an evening session.
Diet for Menstrual Problems
Foods that are high in calcium, magnesium and zinc can reduce pain and menstrual cramps. Women who have a heavy menstrual flow may simply have a deficit of manganese in their daily diet. Studies clearly indicate that women who have a low level of manganese have about 50% higher menstrual flow than women who have a normal level. In order to increase your intake of manganese, you must ensure that you consume pineapples, green leaf y vegetables, avocados, nuts, dried fruits, wheat bran, as they are all rich in manganese. Your diet during menstruation should focus on veggies, fruits, nuts, and dates as this will help to ease your discomfort. You can opt for a cleansing diet before your menstrual cycle as this can help to fortify your system. You should follow an all fruit diet for 3 days followed by 2 days of a fruit and raw salad diet. You can then graduate to a regular well balanced diet. Avoid all products of white flour, sugar, tinned or sealed foods, and strong tea or coffee. Menstrual cramps, muscle aches, backaches, headaches, and mood swings are closely tied in with what women eat before and during their menstrual periods. For a very long it has been believed that carbohydrates increase PMS symptoms, but recent studies prove the opposite.
Detailed research has shown that carbohydrates in sugar and chocolates, which are a craving for many women during their periods, will lower their symptoms not increase them. Bread, pasta, and potatoes were found to have the same effect. Most importantly it is necessary to consume foods that are high in calcium. These foods help to lessen the mood swings among women during their menstruation cycle. Here are a few diet tips for menstrual problems:
- You can treat yourself to delicious yogurt smoothies and homemade yogurt popsicles on a daily basis to include dairy products in your diet plan.
- Follow a regular meal schedule and make sure that you do not skip your meals, even if you do not have much of an appetite.
- Cold buttermilk can help to prevent gas and bloating and so you can have a small glass of chilled buttermilk with your meals.
- Avoid red meats and fried foods as far as possible and have a light but nutritious dinner. A bowl of hot soup or broth will help to ease cramps and nausea and since it is easy to digest, it will prevent bloating.
- Have healthy snacks throughout your day – banana bread, zucchini muffins, hummus with salt-free crackers, and whole grain waffle sticks…’healthy’ does not have to be boring!
Suggestions for Menstrual Problems
Menstrual problems can be indicative of more serious problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) is the loss of ovarian function before the age of 40. These women may have ceased to have periods, or may have them off and on. Menstrual problems can have a significant impact on a woman’s fertility levels. Women who have PCOS or POF may have problems conceiving and if your Ob/Gyn has made a definite diagnosis, you should discuss your options with a fertility expert. PCOS is often associated with obesity and weight problems and so your doctor may suggest a weight loss diet to help you achieve and sustain weight loss. In some cases, insulin resistance may be the underlying cause of PCOS and so medications to lower insulin levels may be necessary. POF can cause serious health problems such as osteoporosis and so you will need to start hormone replacement therapy once the diagnosis of POF is confirmed. Women with POF who wish to have children may require donor eggs with In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) as there are no fertility drugs that can increase fertility levels of women with POF.
- Siobán D. Harlow, 9 – Menstruation and Menstrual Disorders: The Epidemiology of Menstruation and Menstrual Dysfunction, In: Marlene B. Goldman and Maureen C. Hatch, Editor(s), Women and Health, Academic Press, San Diego, 2000, Pages 99-113, ISBN 9780122881459, 10.1016/B978-012288145-9/50012-7.
- H.S. Cronjé, I.E. Kritzinger, Menstruation: symptoms, management and attitudes in university students, International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, Volume 35, Issue 2, June 1991, Pages 147-150, ISSN 0020-7292, 10.1016/0020-7292(91)90818-P.