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What are the treatment options for menstrual problems?

Menstrual problems may be curable depending on what is causing them. For instance, menorrhagia (abnormally heavy periods) may be caused by a wide variety of things, including an intrauterine device (IUD), some medications and underlying conditions such as thyroid disease. Removing the IUD, stopping the medication or treating the disease may result in lighter menstrual flow. However, in some cases, menstrual problems are incurable. One example is amenorrhea (absent periods) caused by a genetic condition such as Turner's syndrome.

Here are some treatment options for menstrual problems:

Hormone treatments ­– Hormone imbalances are often at the root of menstrual problems. For example, a progesterone imbalance can cause menorrhagia (abnormally heavy periods), so your doctor may prescribe progesterone that you can take orally to lighten the menstrual flow. For teenage girls with delayed puberty and amenorrhea (no periods), hormones such as progestin and estrogen may be given to prompt periods and breast development to start. Women who do not have periods and are trying to become pregnant may take hormones to prompt ovulation.

Medications – Depending on the particular menstrual disorder you have, medication may correct the problem or it may simply ease the symptoms. For example, if you have menorrhagia (abnormally heavy menstrual flow), taking birth control pills may result in lighter periods. Ibuprofen can also reduce menstrual flow, as well as ease menstrual cramps and headaches. Birth control pills can also relieve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) for some women. If PMS causes you to become depressed, prescription antidepressants may help.

Surgery – Some types of menstrual problems can be relieved with surgery. For example, women with extremely painful periods (dysmenorrhea) may have an underlying problem, such as a cervical canal that is too small or fibroid tumors in the uterus, that can be corrected with surgery. If pain is very bad, a surgeon can sever the nerves connected to the uterus, but this procedure may harm nearby tissues in the body. Endometriosis is the most common cause of dysmenorrhea, and surgical treatment options are available as needed; for example, patches of tissue outside the uterus that cause pain may be removed surgically.

Menorrhagia (abnormally heavy menstrual flow) is another menstrual disorder that may need surgery. If menorrhagia is severe and medication doesn't help, a doctor can perform a dilation and curettage (D and C) to remove tissue from the uterine lining.

Alternative therapies ­– Alternative methods may help with some menstrual problems, but some of these treatments are more effective than others. For example, acupuncture and hypnosis have been used to ease menstrual pain. Some women find dietary supplements, such as calcium and vitamin E, helpful in relieving premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.

Dr. Pina LoGiudice, LAc, ND
Naturopathic Medicine Specialist

Watch as naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist Dr. Pina LoGiudice shares some alternative treatments for the relief of menstrual issues.

Dr. Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Many patients have problems with their menstrual cycles. The most common problems are pain and excessive bleeding. Some people even have headaches on their menstrual cycle. There are numerous treatments for these problems. These treatments can be as simple as birth control pills—the estrogen and progesterone in birth control pills can help decrease the amount of endometrial lining that has grown which helps decrease vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain with menstrual periods—to as complicated as surgical intervention.

The most important message to take away from this, is that if you are having problems with your menstrual cycles, then you need to seek medical attention. Your medical provider should help diagnose what is causing your menstrual problem and from this diagnosis devise a personalized treatment plan to help you with your menstrual problems.

Dr. Jessica A. Shepherd, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

There are both medical and surgical treatment options for menstrual problems, including various birth control options and surgical procedures. In this video, OBGYN specialist Jessica Shepherd, MD, discusses the various treatment options available.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.