Half the population (in fact, a little bit more than half) has experienced a period, or will at some point in their life. For some, that monthly menstrual cycle is a nuisance, a bringer of discomfort, a feeling of heightened emotional sensitivity, and a worry about having the right supplies on deck. For others, a period is just another day, with hardly anything unusual to comment about (lucky them). But for many women, periods are so severe and so painful that it seems like something might be wrong. In some instances, this is the case — and those women are experiencing a menstrual disorder.
As the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) states, “Menstrual irregularities occur in 14% to 25% of women of childbearing age.” There are a lot of reasons for why this percentage range is so unfortunately vast, but one thing is for certain: many women experience menstrual irregularities or disorders, and you could very well fall into this category. Take a look at some of the menstrual disorders that exist, and schedule an appointment with Neuman GYN in Jacksonville for gynecology services and urinary incontinence consultations.
Endometriosis is when tissue that should be lining the inside of your uterus begins to grow on the outside. As Mayo Clinic explains, “With endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped.” When this happens, it can cause a good deal of pain, particularly during your menstrual cycle.
- Painful periods that may begin before your period and continue after your period starts
- Pain during sexual intercourse, with bowel movements, or with urination
- Periods with an unusually heavy flow/excessive bleeding
Other symptoms may include nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, or more. Infertility can also be a sign of endometriosis.
Uterine fibroids are benign growths that happen in the uterus. For many women, they might have fibroids and never know it, because they can at times present with no symptoms. When symptoms do present themselves, it’s usually due to the location, size, and amount of fibroids in the body. There are three types of uterine fibroids: intramural fibroids, which grow in the uterine wall, submucosal, which go into the uterine cavity, and subserosal, which reach towards the outer part of the uterus.
- Heavy menstrual cycles, characterized by excessive bleeding
- Long cycles, where periods last longer than a week
- Pressure or pain in the pelvic region
- Problems or difficulty with urination
- Pain in the back and/or legs
A cyst is a sac or pocket filled with fluid, and an ovarian cyst presents in either both or one of a woman’s ovaries. Ovarian cysts are fairly common, and many women will experience them at one point or another in their lifetime. In some (if not the majority) of cases, there’s very little pain or discomfort, and the cysts go away on their own. However, some ovarian cysts can be the source for some serious pain and other symptoms, and this can be especially true if the cysts rupture.
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- A feeling of fullness or heaviness in your pelvic region
If you have severe and sudden abdominal/pelvic pain, a fever, and/or vomiting, this might signify that an ovarian cyst has ruptured. This requires medical attention immediately. By meeting with an OB/GYN on a regular basis, they may be able to advise you of your risk for a ruptured cyst.
The Disparity in Menstrual Irregularities
Fourteen to 25 percent — as we mentioned, that’s a pretty significant range. Why is it that doctors don’t have a more precise idea of how many women are suffering from menstrual disorders and irregularities?
Part of this is because of the cultural concepts of periods. More often than not, women are taught at a young age to “grin and bear it” when it comes to their periods, being told they’re a part of life — and the pain that comes with them is just something to expect. Cramps are a common side effect for many women, and it’s difficult to determine if you’re experiencing normal cramping, or something more severe, when you’ve been taught that periods are painful. Many women chalk up their severe symptoms to being normal, and assume that it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Secondly, there’s a lot of research and evidence to suggest that in the medical field, women’s pain is not taken as seriously. One study found that women are “more likely to be treated less aggressively in their initial encounters with the health-care system until they ‘prove that they are as sick as male patients,’” as stated in The Atlantic.
While this is not true for all clinics and all doctors, and serves as more of a generalization, know that when you make an appointment with our OB/GYN, your symptoms and pain will not be taken lightly. We are committed to women’s health, and have been for over 30 years.
In a future blog, we will cover some more menstrual disorders and irregularities. Until then, a visit with our Jacksonville GYN Carole Neuman can be a great opportunity to address any women’s health issues you’ve been experiencing, including problems with your period. No one deserves to suffer through pain, and Carole Neuman is the compassionate advocate you need for your health, and even for your life. Schedule a visit with our Neuman GYN today.