There are several different menstrual disorders or abnormal menstrual patterns. Problems can range from heavy, irregular, painful periods to no periods at all.
Menorrhagia (Heavy Menstrual Bleeding)
Dysmenorrhea (Painful Cramps)
Dysmenorrhea is severe, frequent cramping during menstruation. Pain occurs in the lower abdomen but can spread to the lower back and thighs. Dysmenorrhea is usually referred to as primary or secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is cramping pain caused by menstruation. The cramps occur from contractions in the uterus and are usually more severe during heavy bleeding.
Secondary dysmenorrhea. Secondary dysmenorrhea is menstrual-related pain that may accompany another medical or physical condition, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
Amenorrhea (Absence of Menstruation)
Amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation. There are two categories: primary amenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea. These terms refer to the time when menstruation stops:
Primary amenorrhea occurs when a girl does not begin to menstruate by age 16. Girls who show no signs of sexual development (breast development and pubic hair) by age 14 should be evaluated by a doctor. Any girl who does not have her period by age 15-16 should be evaluated for primary amenorrhea.
Secondary amenorrhea occurs when periods that were previously regular stop for at least 3 months.
Oligomenorrhea (Light or Infrequent Menstruation)
Oligomenorrhea is a condition in which menstrual cycles are infrequent, greater than 35 days apart. It is very common in early adolescence and does not usually indicate a medical problem.
When girls first menstruate they often do not have regular cycles for several years. Even healthy cycles in adult women can vary by a few days from month to month. Periods may occur every 3 weeks in some women, and every 5 weeks in others. Flow also varies and can be heavy or light. Skipping a period and then having a heavy flow may occur; this is most likely due to missed ovulation rather than a miscarriage.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a set of physical, emotional, and behavioural symptoms that occur during the last week of the luteal phase (a week before menstruation) in most cycles. The symptoms typically do not start until at least day 13 in the cycle, and resolve within 4 days after bleeding begins. Women may begin to have premenstrual syndrome symptoms at any time during their reproductive years, but it usually occurs when they are in their late 20s to early 40s.