Dysfunctional uterine bleeding is excessive or irregular bleeding from the uterus. It is caused by uncontrolled estrogen production that leads to excessive build up of the endometrium.
Abnormal uterine bleeding is excessive bleeding during menstruation, frequent bleeding, and/or irregular bleeding. Abnormal bleeding can be caused by fibroids (noncancerous uterine growths), endometriosis (when endometrium spreads outside of the uterus), uterine infections, hypothyroidism, clotting problems, intrauterine devices (IUD), or cancer.
Dysmenorrhea is painful and difficult menstruation. Studies have found that 60–92% of adolescents suffer from dysmenorrhea. It usually begins six to 12 months following menarche. Symptoms may be severe enough to miss work or school, and prevent participation in normal activities. Risk factors for developing dysmenorrhea may include long menstrual periods, obesity, early age at menarche, smoking, and alcohol use.
Primary dysmenorrhea is believed to be caused by high levels of prostaglandins (fatty acids that stimulate muscle contractions, among other activities) which cause painful uterine muscle spasms. Symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea occur when bleeding starts and may include moderate to severe menstrual pain (crampy, spasmodic, and labor-like or a dull ache), nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, low back pain, thigh pain, and diarrhea.
Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by conditions such as endometriosis, abnormalities of the pelvic organs, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, ovarian cysts, tumors, inflammatory bowel disease, and salpingitis (inflammation of the fallopian tube). Symptoms of secondary dysmenorrhea usually occur a few days before bleeding starts. The symptoms depend upon the specific cause of dysmenorrhea, but pain is the hallmark symptom.
Belinda Rowland, Rebecca J. Frey PhD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,