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What's the Practical Criteria For Menstrual Cycle Problems?

Ask Yourself These Questions


Updated July 17, 2014

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Menstrual cycle problems make their presence known through myriad physical and emotional symptoms. Read the following questions about the common signs and symptoms of this disorder and see how many you answer “yes.”

  1. Do the days before your period make you wish you could just stay in bed?
  2. Do you crave salty or sweet foods like potato chips and candy the days before you bleed?
  3. Have you been bleeding or spotting between periods?
  4. Are your periods so unpredictable you can’t make plans?
  5. Is it difficult, even impossible, to button or zip your clothes shortly before your period starts?
  6. Do you sometimes feel so bloated just before menstruating that you wonder if your scale is broken when it doesn’t say you’ve gained ten pounds?
  7. Has it been so long since you had your last period you aren’t sure what month, or season it was?
  8. Do you have frequent menstrual cycles, less than 21 days apart?
  9. Is your period so light that you’re not even sure you’re menstruating?
  10. Do you change tampons or pads so often you’re thinking of buying stock in the company that makes them?
  11. Do you have more headaches, or migraines, when your period’s due?
  12. Do you have periods that last longer than seven days?
  13. Do you have regular menstrual cycles that are more than 35 days, or 5 weeks, apart?
  14. Do pelvic pains or cramps warn you when your period’s going to start?
  15. Do menstrual cramps feel worse than childbirth: or at least worse than the way you imagine labor pains might feel?
  16. Do you have constipation or diarrhea every time you start your period?
  17. Do you have pelvic pain that occurs around the time you ovulate?
  18. Do you feel anxious or panicky just before menstruation?
  19. Do you go from happy to mad to sad and back again often before your period?
  20. Does your family seem to get on your nerves more often the last week or so before menstrual bleeding begins?
  21. Do you ever find yourself screaming at the people you love when your period is near?
  22. Have you noticed your spouse, significant other, or other family members seem busier with away from home activities more often when it’s close your next period?
  23. Do the people you work with seem to hassle you the week or two before your period?
  24. Have you ever hastily quit your job just before menstruation begins?
  25. Do you feel angry more often when you’re expecting your period soon?
  26. Do you ever cry over trivial matters, things that you’d normally never cry about, in the days before you menstruate?
  27. Do you feel sadness before your period starts that goes away once menstruation begins?
  28. Do you find it difficult or impossible to get out of bed the day before, or on Day 1 of your menstrual cycle when menstruation begins?
  29. Do you ever feel so depressed just before your period starts that you’re not even sure you want to live?
  30. Do you feel your best within the first few days of your menstrual cycle, and continue feeling good until about halfway through your menstrual cycle when you slowly notice you’re not feeling so great again?

If you answered “yes” to even one of these questions, you might have a menstrual cycle disorder.

Menstrual cycle disorders can cause all of these symptoms, as well as others. For example, premenstrual syndrome or PMS, and the more severe form premenstrual dysphoric disorder can cause many of the physical and emotional symptoms described in the previous questions.

Abnormal uterine bleeding, a menstrual cycle disorder , causes many of the types of abnormal bleeding patterns referred to in these questions. In fact, several different types of abnormal bleeding patterns fall under the diagnosis of abnormal uterine bleeding. A diagnosis of abnormal uterine bleeding includes amenorrhea and oligomenorrhea – both of these types of abnormal uterine bleeding refer to the absence of menstruation. There are two types of amenorrhea. Primary amenorrhea occurs when menarche doesn’t occur by age 16. You may receive a diagnosis of secondary amenorrhea if you have had periods previously, but you haven’t menstruated for several months. Oligomenorrhea occurs when your menstrual cycles last longer than 35 days.

Benign uterine fibroid tumors depend on estrogen – a female sex hormone produced by the endocrine system glands – to grow and develop. The female gonads, or the ovaries, produce the estrogen that uterine fibroid tumors need to grow and develop. Irregular bleeding is a common symptom in women who have uterine fibroid tumors. While the symptoms of uterine fibroid tumorscan be unpleasant, the good news is that because the tumors are estrogen-dependent fibroids often shrink and disappear as estrogen levels decline at menopause. It is extremely rare for uterine fibroid tumors to be malignant, or cancerous, hence the name benign uterine fibroid tumors. The medical term for fibroid tumors is leiomyomas.

See also: About.com Symptom Checker


Menstrual Disorders;” Healthy Women.org, NWHRC; accessed 09/13/07.

The American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association 1994.

Robert F Casper, MD; “Patient information: Premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder;” UpToDate [online]; accessed 10/24/06.

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