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Menstrual Disorders and Painful Periods

Your monthly period often comes with a regularity that is unique to you. While it may not be exactly the same every cycle or the same as that of your mother, sister or girlfriend—that’s normal. Sometimes your menstrual cycle is light. Other times you have heavy bleeding. Maybe you experience bothersome cramps once in a while or every month. But for the most part, you know what to expect from your menstrual cycle.

Extraordinarily painful periods, missed or lack of periods, or abnormal uterine bleeding, though, aren’t usually the norm. They could be signs of a menstrual disorder and/or an underlying problem such as leiomyoma, endometriosis, chronic pelvic pain or ovarian cysts.

At the Center for Pelvic Health, our specialists in Gynecological Pain and Minimally Invasive Surgery have particular expertise in diagnosing and treating a variety of menstrual disorders and conditions that lead to abnormal periods or bleeding. Leaders in the field, they bring the latest medical breakthroughs to patients by conducting innovative research trials. Current NIH-funded studies focus on better understanding the causes of menstrual pain and determining if painful periods are predictors for developing chronic pelvic pain.

Symptoms

Depending on their cause, each menstrual disorder often has a set of common telltale symptoms.

Painful Periods (Dysmenorrhea)

In this condition, that pain more commonly associated with a period may go beyond the typical "time of the month" pain. The discomfort can last several days and even be associated with non-uterine problems including:

  • Lower back pain
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Loose stools or constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

Most women have a regular menstrual cycle of about 28 days, give or take 7 days. When bleeding continues or persists beyond a normal cycle, you may have abnormal uterine bleeding. Symptoms of abnormal uterine bleeding can include:

  • Spotting or bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Heavier and/or longer bleeding than normal
  • Postmenopausal bleeding

Diagnosis and Treatment 

Your NorthShore specialist will ask about your medical history, conduct a thorough pelvic exam and may perform an ultrasound and/or magnetic resonance imaging to confirm your diagnosis. For evaluation of the interior of the uterus, which can be helpful for diagnosing menstrual problems and pelvic pain, we also offer office-based hysteroscopic procedures. A minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment tool, office hysteroscopy allows many women to avoid hospitalization for diagnostic procedures and some treatments (removal of polyps, for example) as well.

Treatment for your menstrual disorder will depend on its underlying cause and could include medical, nonsurgical and surgical approaches. We offer minimally invasive approaches for treatment of endometriosis, leiomyoma, ovarian cysts/masses, heavy menstrual periods and uterine anomalies.

For More Information

To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 847.926.6544.