All About Irregular Periods and Painful Cramps

Menstruation is the periodic bleeding that occurs in a girl once she attains puberty and stops when a woman attains menopause. This can occur regularly in some and irregularly in others. Some experience heavy bleeding, while others have scanty periods.


In every cycle, the uterus prepares its lining the endometrium for implanting an embryo. When this does not occur and hormone levels change, the uterus sheds the endometrium, which is what is menstruation. The average women have a 28 day cycle, but this can vary from woman to woman.

There are three main types of Period Problems: amenorrhea, menorrhagia and dysmenorrhea. These are medical terms for skipped or absent periods, abnormally heavy flow and painful cramps during menstrual cycle.

Amenorrhea: Skipped or Missed Period

A skipped or missed period is medically known as amenorrhea. It is normal during menopause and Pregnancy to have absent menstrual cycles. However, if irregular periods are happening due to unexplained causes, it can be a cause for concern.  There are two types of amenorrhea: primary and secondary. Causes for amenorrhea or a skipped period can be due to hormonal, glandular or organ changes or failures. It is easier to pin point causes of secondary amenorrhea versus primary.

Primary Amenorrhea: By the age of 16, if a teenager has not started her period one should see a gynecologist.

Secondary Amenorrhea: Irregular periods, with skipped menstrual cycles for over three months. Causes could be excessive exercises, eating disorders, thyroid or pituitary gland disorders, hypothalamus dysfunction (brain area that aids reproductive hormone regulation), breast feeding, obesity, stress, polycystic ovarian syndrome, ovarian failure and fibroids, to name a few.

Menorrhagia: Heavy Flow Menstrual Cycle

Menorrhagia is excessive bleeding accompanied by clumps or clots. This leads to anemia, which in turns worsens the bleeding and hemoglobin level falls. This leads to diminished oxygen being carried to the body tissues and causes fatigue.

Causes of menorrhagia include fibroids, miscarriage, clotting disorders, cancer of the uterus or cervix, hormonal disturbances, polyps in the uterus, taking medication such as blood thinners,  to name a few.


Bleeding between periods can be due to hormonal causes or due to cancers, so one should visit a gynecologist.

Dysmenorrhea: Painful Cramps During Periods

A common menstrual problem is the pain associated with heavy flow or uncomfortable cramps during a normal period, also known as dysmenorrhea. Pain in the lower abdomen, lower back radiating to the limbs is common and mainly due to the uterus contracting to shed the lining. In some cases the pain can be so severe that it could require medication. In addition to all these symptoms, you could also deal with nausea, irregular bowel movements, headaches, lightheadedness or fainting during your periods. It is also seen when a person suffers from fibroids or endometriosis.

Hence any disturbance in a period, be it irregular period, heavy flow, scanty period, painful period, bleeding lasting for more than a week, one should see a gynecologist

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