Polymenorrhea is a term used to describe a menstrual cycle that is shorter than 21 days. A normal menstrual cycle is between 24 and 38 days long. Polymenorrhea is just one form of abnormal uterine bleeding. For some women, a shorter cycle length may just be normal, but for others it can be caused by certain medical conditions. It can also affect fertility, since ovulation will usually occur sooner than expected or even during the course of a period. Women with polymenorrhea may also find that their periods are irregular or unpredictable.
Polymenorrhea and pregnancy
Getting pregnant is usually more challenging for women with polymenorrhea, but it’s still possible. There are two reasons why it can be a struggle to get pregnant with polymenorrhea. The first is that ovulation often occurs much sooner than expected and can be irregular, occurring at different times every month. Many women find it helpful to track their ovulation using ovulation tests to help combat this problem.
The other issue is that the time between ovulation and bleeding (the luteal phase) is often too short for fertilization and implantation to occur. Contraceptive pills can help lengthen the luteal phase, but they also stop ovulation from occurring. This means they aren’t helpful for women who are trying to conceive. However, there are other medications that can be prescribed by your doctor to help boost fertility. Many are successful in helping women with short luteal phases get pregnant.
What are the potential causes?
Sometimes there’s no abnormality causing polymenorrhea, and it’s simply what’s normal for some women. However, there can be many underlying causes and this should always be investigated to see if it could be treated, particularly if the condition is causing problems with fertility and also for the woman’s comfort.
This is a common cause of polymenorrhea as well as other menstrual abnormalities. Stress affects the hormonal balance in our bodies. Luckily, it’s a mild and treatable cause. Many women find that when they address the causes of their stress and practise stress-relieving exercises, their polymenorrhea rectifies. There are also medications available for treating stress if necessary.
Infections and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Infections, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, can also cause polymenorrhea. Women with chlamydia might also experience severe abdominal pain and vaginal discharge. The other symptoms of gonorrhea are extreme itchiness in the vaginal area, a burning sensation during urination, and vaginal discharge. Both of these conditions can be treated with antibiotics. It’s important that infections are diagnosed and treated promptly or they can lead to a range of serious health issues.
Endometriosis is a condition in which the cells that normally line the uterus are found in other areas like the ovaries or fallopian tubes. The symptoms of endometriosis are heavy and painful periods, pain during intercourse, spotting in between periods, and abnormalities of the menstrual cycle. Endometriosis can be treated with medications and/or surgery.
Menopause is a term used to describe the time at which a woman’s menstrual cycle stops permanently. This generally occurs in a woman’s late 40s or early 50s. In the time leading up to this (perimenopause), a woman’s body undergoes massive hormonal changes that can lead to depression, mood swings, hot flashes, and abnormalities in the menstrual cycle like polymenorrhea.
Other causes include hyperactivity of the anterior pituitary gland causing frequent ovulation, psychological disturbances, malnutrition, chronic pelvic inflammation, and very rarely, cancer of the female reproductive organs.
The treatment for polymenorrhea will depend upon the underlying cause. Often if the cause is addressed the symptoms will desist. The cause should always be identified in order for the correct treatment path to be followed. Sometimes there will be no underlying cause and no need for treatment. If a woman is bothered by her polymenorrhea but is not trying to conceive, then contraceptive pills to lengthen her cycle can be a good option.
Some women with polymenorrhea will develop anemia due to frequent and heavy bleeding. This is a condition where your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells. The symptoms of anemia are fatigue, difficulty with memory and concentration, low energy levels, light-headedness, pale skin, and temporary shortness of breath with exertion. You need to see your doctor if you suspect you may be anemic, as the condition will usually require medical treatment.
Some women experience bloating and fluid retention around the time of their periods. Since polymenorrhea means women experience periods more frequently, some complain of enduring weight gain.
Polymenorrhea can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. It can also cause problems with fertility and quality of life. There are many possible causes, most of which can be treated. It’s important to see your doctor so that the cause of your polymenorrhea can be investigated. Only when the true cause has been identified can you seek effective treatment.