Find out what's normal and what's not normal for your periods.
Amenorrhoea simply means an absence of your periods. Doctors usually classify amenorrhoea into primary or secondary amenorrhoea.
It is normal not to have periods:
Amenorrhoea may be caused by:
Dysmenorrhoea means painful periods. Period pain and discomfort is usually most severe for the first day or so of your period. Dysmenorrhoea tends to peak quite soon after puberty, so if your periods are getting increasingly painful as you get older, see your doctor. Doctors usually classify dysmenorrhoea into primary or secondary dysmenorrhoea (see below).
Common symptoms of dysmenorrhoea include:
Common symptoms associated with dysmenorrhoea include:
Occasionally you may have vomiting.
The symptoms, which do not last very long (usually around one to 2 days), are caused by prostaglandins, natural substances found in many body tissues. Prostaglandins stimulate contractions of the muscles of your uterus during your period. Experts believe these contractions of the uterus compress the blood vessels to the uterus, temporarily cutting off the blood supply and depriving the tissues of oxygen, which triggers pain.
Primary dysmenorrhoea may affect more than half of all women, and occurs with no known underlying cause. The pain in primary dysmenorrhoea occurs from the contractions of the uterus, caused by prostaglandins, described above.
Secondary dysmenorrhoea is caused by an underlying gynaecological problem or condition such as:
The use of intra-uterine devices for contraception (not including the intra-uterine levonorgestrel-releasing system Mirena) has also been associated with dysmenorrhoea and heavy bleeding.
Menorrhagia means that periods are long and heavy. It is one of the most common causes of iron deficiency anemia in Australian women. Menorrhagia may include periods that are prolonged, lasting for longer than a week, or that involve excessive bleeding with 'flooding' or clots.
Women with menorrhagia lose 80 mL (4 tablespoons) or more of blood per period (equivalent to about 6 tampons per day for 4 to 5 days).
Menorrhagia may be caused by:
If you think you may suffer from amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea or menorrhagia, see your doctor who should be able to make a proper diagnosis and advise you of treatment options for your condition.
Last Reviewed: 16 March 2011