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Last Updated: Aug 29, 2019

Periods - After Oscar Success, Should It Be A Taboo Anymore?

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Dr. Arun KumarGeneral Physician • 9 Years Exp.MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
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Where "Periods" are still considered a taboo in our society, at least in rural parts of the country, a documentary created on the same subject named "Period. End Of Sentence" has won the Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject category at the 91st Academy Awards.

The film, based on menstruation, is set in rural India. It has been directed by Rayka Zehtabchi and produced by Sikhya Entertainment, a production house owned by an Indian Guneet Monga.

Similar to the Akshay Kumar-starrer "PadMan", the short film is aimed at the upliftment of women who are considered filthy when they are on their periods. This mentality is prevalent mostly among uneducated people, who do not understand that regular periods are a sign of good reproductive health of a woman.

Here we will be discussing everything about menstruation and how do abnormal periods affect a woman. Read on:

A menstrual period usually occurs in every 28 days, but generally, it can range from 21 days to 35 days. Anything below or beyond these numbers is considered to be abnormal menstruation. This continues for three to seven days in different women.

Common problems related to menstruation include:

  1. Periods occurring in less than 21 days or more than 35 days
  2. Missing three or more periods in a row
  3. Heavier or lower menstrual flow than normal
  4. Periods lasting longer than seven days
  5. Periods accompanied by pain, cramping, nausea or vomiting
  6. Bleeding or spotting that happens between periods after menopause

Common diseases which are related to abnormal menstruation:

  • Amenorrhea - In this condition, the suffering woman's periods stop completely. The absence of periods for 90 days or more is considered abnormal unless a woman is pregnant, breastfeeding or going through menopause (which generally occurs between the age of 45 and 55 years). Young women who haven't started menstruating by the age of 15 or 16 or within three years after their breasts begin to develop are also considered to have amenorrhea.
  • Oligomenorrhea - This condition refers to when periods occur infrequently.
  • Dysmenorrhea - This condition refers to very painful periods and severe menstrual cramps.

Causes of abnormal menstruation:

There can be many causes of abnormal periods. Some of them include:

  1. Stress and lifestyle factors: Losing or putting on weight, dieting, changes in exercise routine, travel, illness or some other changes in a women’s daily life may lead to abnormal menstruation.
  2. Birth control pills: Most of the birth control pills possess a combination of hormones estrogen and progestin. These pills can hugely impact menstruation. Some women have irregular or missed periods for up to six months after discontinuing birth control pills.
  3. Fibroids: Fibroids or uterine polyps are small benign (noncancerous) growths in the uterus lining. These tumours are usually benign, but they can lead to heavy bleeding and pain during menstruation.
  4. Endometriosis: Endometriosis happens when the endometrial tissue begins growing outside the uterus. Endometriosis may cause abnormal bleeding, cramps or pain before and during periods. It may also lead to painful sex.
  5. Pelvic inflammatory disease: Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a type of bacterial infection that affects the female reproductive system. Symptoms of PID are a heavy vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odour, irregular periods, pain in the pelvic and lower abdominal areas, fever, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
  6. Polycystic ovary syndrome: Women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) sometimes suffer from irregular periods or stop menstruating completely.
  7. Premature ovarian insufficiency: This condition is mostly faced by the women under the age of 40 whose ovaries have stopped functioning properly. In this condition, menstrual cycle stops just like menopause.

Other causes of abnormal menstruation include:

  • Uterine or cervical cancer.
  • Consumption of steroids or anticoagulant drugs (blood thinners).
  • Medical conditions which include bleeding disorders, an under or overactive thyroid gland or pituitary disorders that affect hormonal balance.
  • Complications related to pregnancy, including miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy (the fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus).

How to diagnose abnormal menstruation?

The first thing to do if you want to diagnose abnormal periods is to keep an accurate record of when your period begins and ends. The patient must also keep a close watch on large blood clots and amount of flow. Tracking bleeding between periods, menstrual cramps and pain may also be of help in diagnosing menstrual irregularity.

Your doctor will first conduct a physical examination, including a pelvic exam and sometimes a Pap test. Then he/she might also ask you to undergo certain tests that include:

  1. Blood test
  2. Vaginal cultures
  3. Pelvic ultrasound
  4. Endometrial biopsy

How is abnormal menstruation treated?

  1. Regulation of the menstrual cycle: The doctor may prescribe estrogen or progestin to control heavy bleeding.
  2. Pain control: If you are having mild or moderate pain or cramps, the doctor may ask you to take over-the-counter pain killer, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Taking a warm bath or shower or using a heating pad might help in relieving cramps.
  3. Uterine fibroids: These are treated medically or surgically. Initially, fibroids are treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, but when these medications do not produce desired results, then the doctors may go for the surgical procedure.
  4. Endometriosis: Although there is no cure for endometriosis, over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers are used to reduce the pain and discomfort. The doctors take necessary action as per the severity of the problem.

How to prevent abnormal periods?

There are some self-care measures that can be taken to reduce the chances of abnormal menstruation. Have a look at them:

  • Making some lifestyle changes such as moderate exercising and eating low-fat food. If you want to lose weight, do not make drastic changes to your diet which may impact your calorie and food intake.
  • Take adequate rest.
  • Apply some stress reducing and relaxation techniques.
  • Cut back on prolonged and intense exercise routines.
  • Use contraceptive pills or other methods as directed by the doctor.
  • Change your sanitary napkins in every 4-6  hours to avoid toxic shock syndrome and prevent infections.
  • Make regular visits to a doctor. 

Now, it is high time all of us should stop considering periods as a taboo and let the women of our society speak and live with it freely to ensure a happier and healthier life.


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