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Health > Menstrual Problems

Menstrual Problems

Menstrual Problems Fact Sheet

What to look for

Menstruation occurs when an ovary releases an egg, at this time the lining of the uterus grows and becomes flooded with blood. If the egg is not fertilised, the ovary releases progesterone, which causes menstrual flow. This happens every 28 days until interrupted by pregnancy or ended by menopause.

Menstrual Synchrony

The symptoms of the onset of the period varies in each woman. As well as this your own period may vary occasionally. This is usually normal, but at times this can be the result of something more serious.
The three main categories of menstrual irregularities are lack of period, painful periods, and heavy periods. The following explains these problems and what you can do about them.


Although often no cause for concern, can be a sign of an underlying problem. Menstruation may not start at puberty or for some reason periods stop during your adult life. If your periods have never occurred it may be hormonal problems, or it may signal (in very rare cases) ill formed or non-existent ovaries.
If your periods have just stopped, it might indicate, that you have low levels of oestrogen in your body. Or it may signal a lack of progesterone. Of course if your periods have ceased it may also indicate that you are pregnant. Stress can also cause problems in this area as can Anorexia nervosa. Sports injuries can have the same effect as can ovarian cysts. Excessive exercise and very low body fat is also a cause.

Traditional Treatment

Treatment for a lack of periods is usually simply waiting to see if nature takes its course. For a girl who exercises strenuously or who is very thin, a doctor might advise a lighter training regimen or an effort to gain weight. Treatment for anorexia nervosa might also be necessary. Always see your doctor if you are worried.
If your periods have stopped - look at all the possibilities. If you think stress may be to blame, take steps to reduce stress in your life. If you are underweight, your doctor will advise you to gain some weight and try to maintain it. If you have been diagnosed with some other condition that may be causing amenorrhoea (such as endometriosis or an ovarian cyst) seek treatment for that. Always see your doctor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - To help initiate menstrual flow, make a tincture of one part chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), two parts blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), and two parts mugwort leaf (Artemisia argyi); take 2 ml three times daily until menstrual flow begins.

Dietary Considerations

Try taking supplements of or eat foods rich in zinc (fish, poultry, lean meats) and vitamin B complex (brewer's yeast, wheat germ), C, E, magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, evening primrose oil.
Aromatherapy - Try either Fennel, Geranium or Rose to regulate your period. Put several drops into a carrier oil and massage clockwise into your abdomen. Do not use Fennel on epileptics or near them. Do not use Fennel during pregnancy. (for more information see the aromatherapy section).


This slightly unpleasant problem is however, usually quite normal. There are occasions when painful periods can signify a more serious condition.


Doctors are unsure of the exact cause of painful periods, however it may be the result of an excess of prostaglandins, a substance released from the cells lining the womb.
This condition may, however, also be caused by an underlying condition, such as endometriosis, an infection, or growths in the uterus.

Traditional Treatment

Analgesics such as aspirin can relieve mild discomfort, but if your pain is more intense, try an analgesic available over-the-counter. See your doctor if this treatment does not remedy the condition.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Most of the alternative therapies for menstrual cramps focus on promoting the relaxation of tense muscles or on reducing tension in general.
Aromatherapy - Chamomile in a carrier oil rubbed on the lower abdomen, back and legs is usually very helpful.
Herbal Therapies - To relieve cramps, drink a hot tea of 2 tsp cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) simmered for 15 minutes in 1 cup water; use this three times a day. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and bromelain will also relax muscles. Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) and feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) can relax uterine muscles; feverfew may work as well. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) helps relax cramping muscles; however, it should be used only for a limited time. Consult a Professional. (See our Herbal Section).
Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) applied over painful areas can also bring relief, but don't use it if there's a chance you may get pregnant.
Tension, anxiety, and painful spasms may be relieved with treatments of black haw (Viburnum lentago), skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis), and black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa).

Dietary Considerations

Rather than three large meals, try eating a balanced diet consisting of small meals throughout the day and avoid sugar, salt, and caffeine. You may get relief from a multivitamin supplement containing vitamin B complex, calcium, and magnesium. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants.


Menstrual flow that lasts longer than about eight days, saturates tampons within an hour, or includes large clots of blood can usually be classified as a heavy period.
Hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, a pelvic infection, use of an IUD, or uterine growths can often be the cause of heavy periods. Problems with ovulation, low levels of progesterone, or an excess of prostaglandins can also cause heavier periods.

Traditional Treatment

Usually treatment consists of iron or folic acid tablets to prevent anaemia and other deficiencies. Analgesics for the pain and hormones to correct any imbalance in your hormone levels..
There is a minor surgical procedure that your doctor can perform which often relieves the symptoms of heavier periods. You should ask your doctor for more information about this course of action.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Aromatherapy - Practitioners of aromatherapy find that oils of geranium, juniper (Juniperus communis), and cypress, rubbed on the abdomen, may bring relief for sufferers of heavy menstrual flow. (See our section on aromatherapy for more information)
Herbal Therapies - Tea made from yarrow (Achillea millefolium) may help control bleeding. You may also benefit from taking a tincture made of equal parts life root (Senecio aureus), shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), and wild cranesbill (Geranium maculatum).

Personal Care

  • calcium and magnesium have known to stop uterine muscle cramps and to lessen the flow.
  • Take a warm, relaxing bath.
  • Take analgesics
  • Drink herbal teas containing yarrow to help control bleeding.


Try to keep within your normal weight range.
Take a multivitamin supplement including vitamins A, B complex, C, and E, as well as calcium and iron.

When to seek further professional advice

  •  you have heavy menstrual flow that fills a tampon or sanitary napkin within an hour.
  • you experience sharp abdominal pain before periods or during intercourse.

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