Menstrual Cycle Problems

From missed periods to painful periods, menstrual cycle problems are common, but usually not serious. Follow this chart for information regarding changes in your cycle.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Have your periods become painful?

  • Have you been more emotional, fatigued, or irritable, or do you have more bloating or weight gain than usual, or do you have trouble concentrating or sleeping just prior to your periods?

  • Do you have a known sexually transmitted disease or infection (STD or STI)? Do you have a fever or foul-smelling vaginal discharge or burning or itching with or without noticeable skin changes around your genitalia?

  • Do you have abdominal or pelvic pain during sex, ovulation, or bowel movements?

  • Are your periods heavier or are you bleeding longer than usual?

  • Do you use an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control (contraception)?

  • Do you have a constant feeling that you need to urinate, or do you have pelvic pressure, constipation, or pain in your back or legs?

  • Do you have muscle aches, swelling, or stiffness in your joints, tightness or swelling in your throat, and/or weakness in your legs?

  • Are your periods irregular, infrequent, or have they stopped?

  • Do you have breast tenderness, abdominal fullness, or nausea?

  • Are you on birth control pills?

  • Are you 35 years old or older?

  • Have you felt sluggish, or have you gained or lost weight without trying?

  • Are you bleeding at times other than your period, or again after having gone through menopause, or when you are older than 35?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    This may be normal MENSTRUAL CRAMPS, or you may have PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME (PMS or PREMENSTRUAL DYSPHORIC DISORDER [PDD]).


    Self Care

    Use over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or naproxen for bloating and pain. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Make changes to the way you eat and exercise. Eat smaller, more frequent meals that are high in complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and take a daily multivitamin and calcium. Get 8 hours of sleep before and around the normal time of your period. See your doctor if symptoms get worse or fail to improve after several cycles.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTION (STI), or a serious type of STI around your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus, called PELVIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASE (PID).

     


    Self Care

    URGENT
    See your doctor right away. Any infection in the abdomen can be serious.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have ENDOMETRIOSIS, a problem where the lining of the uterus spreads outside the uterus, often in the abdomen or around the ovaries, or you may have OVARIAN CYSTS. The cysts can also rupture and can cause bleeding or significant pain.


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Self Care

    For more information, please talk to your doctor. If you think the problem is serious, call your doctor right away.


  • Diagnosis

    The IUD may have caused this change in the pattern of your bleeding. The most frequent side effect is irregular bleeding (bleeding not related to your menstrual cycle), but usually an IUD will cause a significant decrease in the amount of bleeding and pain during your period.


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    Your symptoms may be from FIBROIDS, noncancerous tumors of the uterus.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. The fibroids can potentially be controlled with medications, but may need to be removed with surgery.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a problem with your THYROID GLAND, such as HASHIMOTO’S DISEASE (i.e., your body has created antibodies that attack your thyroid and lower its effectiveness).


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have an OVARIAN CYST, or you may be PREGNANT.


    Self Care

    If you could be pregnant, do an at-home pregnancy test. If it’s positive, see your doctor for confirmation. If you don’t think you’re pregnant and symptoms continue, see your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    Some women will miss a period while on BIRTH CONTROL PILLS. There is a small chance you could be PREGNANT.


    Self Care

    Wait to see if you have a period at the end of your next pack of pills (when you take your sugar pills, you should have your period). See your doctor if you have signs of pregnancy or you don’t have a period after the second month.


  • Diagnosis

    Periods that stop after years of regularity may be caused by NORMAL or EARLY MENOPAUSE. Irregular periods may also be due to FIBROIDS, HORMONE PROBLEMS, or other medical conditions.


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a HORMONE PROBLEM, such as a THYROID GLAND problem. Periods may stop or become irregular if your weight falls dramatically, as can occur with ANOREXIA NERVOSA or BULIMIA.


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    Your bleeding could be from FIBROIDSENDOMETRIOSIS, or from a serious condition, such as ENDOMETRIAL CANCER.


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away. Early detection of endometrial cancer is important for successful treatment.


  • Self Care

    For more information, please talk to your doctor. If you think the problem is serious, call your doctor right away.


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