Peer Health

Infections and Menstrual Problems

Women should keep track of when their periods start and when they expect their next period; this not only helps determine pregnancy, but also helps women and their health care providers evaluate other reproductive health conditions. A number of symptoms surrounding menstruation can cause a great deal of worry. Most fall within the “normal” range of symptoms, but a woman needs to pay attention to all symptoms to determine what is “normal” for her. If you are uncertain, seek the advice of a health professional.

Amenorrhea

Amenorrhea is an absence or abnormal stoppage of menstruation,. In college women this can be associated with stress, sever dieting including eating disorders, increased levels of excercise, and illness. Or, it could indicate a pregnancy. In any case, if you have kept track of your cycles and know what is normal for you, you can help a health professional evaluate the missed period.

Dysmenorrhea

Dysmenorrhea is painful menstruation. It is normal to experience some pain and cramping as part of the menstrual cycle. If menstrual pain interferes with your normal activities, ask your health care professional for advice. While keeping track of your cycles, you might also want to develop a personal index that measures how uncomfortable you are through your cycle. If pain increases over “normal” for you it would be helpful for the health professional to be able to assess both the length of the cycle, number of days of flow, and intensity of the pain.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, refers to a combination of symptoms experienced by many women during the menstrual cycle, usually just before menstrual bleeding begins. The intensity and range of symptoms vary widely. Symptoms may include temporary (water) weight gain or a bloated feeling, headaches, cramps, tender breasts, tension, skin outbreaks and depression. All of these may occur to some degree when hormonal balances change. Women are encouraged to keep track of their cycle and symptoms to document for themselves their own pattern. Diet (low sodium/salt, increased fluids, high fiber, high complex carbohydrates, low fat and low sugar), exercise, massage, relaxation techniques, and prescription medication may be helpful in alleviating symptoms. Researchers are investigating the relationship of PMS to certain vitamins and minerals. Check with your health care provider about the advisability of taking extra nutrients to relieve PMS.

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

TSS is a rare bacterial-cause illness occuring mostly in young women during their menstrual periods, especially in women who are using high-absorbency tampons. Symptoms include the sudden onset of a fever over 102 F, vomiting, diarrhea, and a rash on the hands or feet. These symptoms can rapidly lead ot loss of blood pressure and shock. If these symptoms appear, consult a physician or go to an emegency room immediately.