June 20th, 2012 by Hasham
Menstrual Period Symptoms
In most societies, a menstruating woman holds one or the other significance. However, as most women will be quick to agree, menstruation is one of the most discomfiting periods of her life. It is not a disease or disorder, rather, it signifies a period of her life when she can bear life, she is fertile. But this period is often accompanied by extreme discomfort in terms of cramps and inconvenient physical and mental situation.
Studies indicate that almost 80% women suffer the effects of menstrual discomforts. All over the world, women experience some typical symptoms of menstrual period flow. But we first need to know the mechanics behind the activity to understand why these period symptoms appear and what makes them such a problem.
Every month, a woman’s ovaries release one egg into her uterus. This egg stays there, waiting to be fertilized, and after a few days, is discharged from the uterus along with its tissue lining. This was the lining that had been prepared by nature to create a soft, warm cocoon for the fetus that would have been conceived had the egg got fertilized. This is nature’s own baby basket and its warm lining.
But when the egg doesn’t get fertilized, and is expelled from the body with a bloody vaginal discharge, this is called the menstrual flow. This process is called menstruation. As this blood, tissue and the egg flow out from the vagina, they cause some physical discomfort but most of the pain associated with the menstrual flow is largely hormone related.
The most common symptom of period is the pain in the abdomen. In many cases, this is located at the lower abdomen or lower back area. The pain usually starts from a couple of days before the actual flow starts and is generally referred to as PMS – Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. There are other symptoms that are equally discomforting but until very recently, it was dismissed as female drivel, fuss over a pain that is nowhere else except for in the imagination. But science has now established that discomforts and pain during the menstrual flow are not psychological, they have very physical roots. Most of these pains are caused by dramatically fluctuating hormone levels in the body. Whoever said that the ability to give birth would come easy?
The pain or menstrual cramps usually come because during the first five days of the menstrual period, the uterus is contracting in spasms, in order to shed the lining. The pain is a much milder form of what she will experience during childbirth, also a contractions-led activity. The muscle contractions here are caused by a chemical called prostaglandins. This hormone causes the muscles of the uterus to contract for a longer period of time, sometimes depriving it of oxygen. This is what causes menstrual cramps.
Then after 14 days, the hormonal level changes to prepare for the release of the next egg. The hormone levels of both estrogen and progesterone keep rising till about 4 days before the next period, and then, if fertilization has not taken place, they fall. This sudden change causes more irritation and emotional imbalance in a woman. People refer to this discomfort, when they talk about ‘that time of the month’.
Around the time ovulation occurs, there is a pain in the back, abdomen or even dizziness. Just about a week before the actual menstrual period flow starts, the woman may experience bloating. This is water retention on legs and around the middle, sometimes even the face. The other menstruation symptoms are breast tenderness, decreased activity levels and lack of sleep. Some women also experience changes in appetite with cravings for a particular substance, while some others break out in acne. There sometimes seems to be a slight loss of coordination, so many women experience trouble in driving in this PMS state.
A woman approaching this time usually experiences attacks of anxiety and social withdrawal. The most common of all symptoms, is irritability or moodiness, depression and angry outbursts. Nausea, headache, gas in the abdomen, indigestion and sometimes even diarrhea are common symptoms and pains of menstrual period. If these pains get more severe than normal, they are taken to be a disorder called dysmenorrhea.
Almost 25-30% women face irregularities in their menstrual cycle when they are fertile. Missed cycle, brown, white or yellow discharge, more than one cycle in a month, etc. These conditions have to be taken seriously and a gynecologist should be immediately contacted. The condition may be improved by regular exercise and hormone therapy.
The bad news is that menstrual pain and discomfort does not spare any woman who is in the fertile age bracket, usually between 12 and 51. Class, culture, body type, even race make no difference. In pain, we are all the same.
Missed Menstrual Period
A missed menstrual period (amenorrhea) is one of the first early pregnancy symptoms that a woman looks for. This pregnancy symptom can be misleading though, as there may be a few different reasons why you missed a period or why it may be a couple dates late.
For the woman who has an irregular menstrual cycle, a missed period may mean nothing out of the ordinary. There are some women that naturally have menstrual cycles that do not follow a set pattern. One month the cycle may last 27 days and the next month it may be 41 days. Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is caused by a hormonal imbalance, may never be able to use a missed period as an indicator of pregnancy since many times their periods are irregular and few and far between. For women with irregular periods or ones that have hormonal issues like PCOS, the absence of a period should not be factored in as one of the pregnancy symptoms.
There are a few other reasons why a woman may miss her menstrual period.
If the woman is breastfeeding it is not uncommon for her menstrual cycle to be unpredictable.
Large amounts of stress can also cause amenorrhea. Getting rid of emotional stress in your life can help bring on your menstrual period.
Malnourishment, being underweight, and exercising too much can all cause a missed menstrual period. These items put too much stress on the body, causing it to lose its balance.
Missing a menstrual period is also a symptom of thyroid disease. Many women may have thyroid disease and may never know or something in their life like a pregnancy can cause thyroid disease.
Certain medications such as antidepressants, steroids, oral contraceptives, and chemotherapy drugs can cause amenorrhea.
If you have been sick for a long period of time or have a chronic illness, it may cause an absence of your menstrual period. Prolonged stress on the body may cause a delay in your menstrual cycle. Once you are better, it should return to normal.
Although all of the above factors could be a reason for the absence of your menstrual period, the number one reason is actually pregnancy. When a woman gets her menstrual period it is due to the shedding of the lining of the uterus which is prepared for a fertilized egg to implant in. When the woman ovulates and the egg does not get fertilized it sends a message to the uterus to shed the lining. This is why a missed menstrual period is a pretty good indication of pregnancy and is a pretty reliable among the pregnancy symptoms. If a woman has regular or semi-regular periods every month, the absence of a period one month can almost always be related to pregnancy that is considering the factors above have also been considered.
If you have missed your menstrual period, you may want to take a pregnancy test. If you the test comes out positive, call your doctor for your first prenatal visit. If the test comes out negative, and you still think you may be pregnant, wait another 3-5 days and take anther test. If it still comes out negative, wait awhile longer for your period to finally show and take into consideration the reasons stated above from amenorrhea. If your period still does not show after 2-3 months, you will want to call your doctor so he can run some test on you.