Menstrual Problems - Definitions


Most women at one point or another will have menstrual irregularity. In a majority of cases these will not rise to the level of needing treatment, but they can be of concern to you the patient. Here I will define the different menstrual disorders to familiarize you with the actual medical definitions.

  • AMENORRHEA (a-men-o-ree-uh) - simply put, this is the absence of menstruation or a missed period in a woman of reproductive age. This may be one of the most common forms of menstrual irregularity with one of the main causes being pregnancy.
  • MENARCHE - the beginning of menstruation in an adolescent woman.
  • MENORRHAGIA - heavy bleeding at regular intervals. This is the woman that may have a heavy period once a month and can also be associated with painful periods (dysmenorrhea). This can be bleeding that is either extra heavy (3-5 days) or longer than usual (7-9 days).
  • METRORRAHGIA - heavy bleeding at irregular intervals. This is the woman that suffers from unusual bleeding that is heavy and occurs outside of the normal menses. She may have cycles or bleeding every two weeks.
  • DYSMENORRHEA - painful menses that occur at either regular or irregular intervals.
  • MENOPAUSE - while most women feel they may be entering menopause, the menopause, or climacteric is defined as an absence of menses for at least 6-12 months after your last natural menses. While there are conditions where women ovulate at irregular intervals the average age of menopause is 51.
  • PERIMENOPAUSE - the time around menopause and can be in those women 35-55 yrs old experiencing signs and symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, mood swings, and menstrual irregularities.
  • DYSFUNCTIONAL UTERINE BLEEDING (DUB) - this is a myriad of diagnoses that are rolled into one term. When a physician gives a patient this diagnosis it means there is a menstrual irregularity for which there has been no identified organic cause. You have a problem with your period but we cannot find a reason for it.
  • ABNORMAL UTERINE BLEEDING (AUB) - a larger cache for all of the diagnoses above. If the provider wants to say you have menstrual irregularity but doesn't have a conclusive idea of which type they may use this easier term.
  • POLYMENORRHEA - if your cycle is less than 21 days or you have a period every three weeks.
  • OLIGOMENORRHEA - if your cycle is more than every 35 days or you have infrequent lighter periods.
  • HYPOMENORRHEA - abnormally light regular periods. Your flow may be simple spotting for 1 day.

As stated earlier this is a list of the medical terminology you may see in your chart. We will discuss the causes and treatments of these disorders later.

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