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Menstrual Disorders

What Are Menstrual Disorders?

For some women, periods are easy to handle. For women who live with menstrual disorders, they’re uncomfortable at best and excruciating and disruptive at worst.


The most common menstrual disorders are dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.


While most women experience menstrual cramping at some point, for a select group of women it happens every month and is intensely painful. These cramps, also called dysmenorrhea, are thought to be caused by a substance your uterine lining cells produce called prostaglandins. Women with dysmenorrhea may also experience diarrhea or feel faint.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

PMS is an umbrella term for a group of symptoms connected to a woman’s menstrual cycle. The majority of women experience some kind of PMS symptom, and for most, the symptoms are not severe enough to disrupt daily life.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Though symptoms can overlap, PMDD is much more severe than PMS. Psychological symptoms such as anxiety, irritability and mood swings are prevalent, and all symptoms — psychological and physical — can significantly disrupt day-to-day life significantly.


Symptoms that may indicate presence of a menstrual disorder tend to start within 2 weeks of a woman’s period (and improve once it begins) or change in the middle of the cycle. Common symptoms include:

  • Changes in bowel habits or urination — Constipation or diarrhea may be present, and urination patterns can increase or decrease.
  • Fatigue — This overwhelmingly tired feeling with no known cause isn’t relieved by sleep.
  • Heavy bleeding or clots — Periods that last longer or are heavier are common.
  • Irritability, anxiety, depression or sudden mood swings — Hormone fluctuations can lead to changes in mood.
  • Nausea and vomiting — Feelings of sickness and lightheadedness may be accompanied by vomiting.
  • Severe menstrual cramps — Tightness and pain may affect the abdomen.

Some women may also experience prolonged periods (lasting longer than 8 to 10 days), too frequent periods (occurring more than once each month) or the absence of periods (no menstrual period for more than 3 months).

Treatment Options

The effectiveness of treatment for menstrual disorders varies for each woman affected. Common treatments include:

  • Contraceptives — Both oral contraceptives and contraceptive patches can help with excessive bleeding, lack of bleeding and psychological symptoms like mood swings and anxiety.
  • Lifestyle changes — Making changes in your day-to-day life, such as exercising regularly and eating well, can help with both the physical and psychological symptoms of menstrual disorders.
  • Pain medication — Many women see improvement of symptoms with the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
  • Surgery — For some cases of heavy bleeding, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure. These procedures may include endometrial ablation, dilation and curettage (D&C), or hysterectomy.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of a menstrual disorder, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat menstrual disorders.