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Reducing Your Risk of Menstrual Disorders
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Menstrual disorders have a variety of causes, which may or may not be preventable.
For the cases that can be prevented, the following tips may help reduce your risk of developing menorrhagia or amenorrhea.
Menorrhagia or Anovulatory Bleeding
Treat Conditions That Can Lead to Heavy Bleeding
Certain conditions can often be treated before they cause heavy bleeding. Examples include:
Reduce the Intensity of Your Exercise Routine
Excessive and intense exercise can cause you to stop having menstrual periods. If you exercise compulsively due to fear of gaining weight, you may have an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. It is not uncommon for women with eating disorders to exercise 2-6 hours a day. If you have an eating disorder, you need to see your doctor to get proper treatment.
On the other hand, if you exercise intensely because you are a competitive athlete, it may be difficult for you to change your exercise routine. To prevent the complications associated with this type of amenorrhea, talk to your doctor about whether you should take calcium. You may also want to consider taking birth control pills.
Maintain an Appropriate Weight and Level of Body Fat
Amenorrhea is often related to levels of body fat—either too much or too little. Your doctor can help determine your appropriate weight and body fat levels. You should not lose too much weight or lose weight too quickly. Along the same lines, you should not gain too much weight or gain too quickly. These extremes can affect your menstrual cycle.
If you need to lose weight, your doctor or a dietitian can help you make adjustments so that your diet is well-balanced and adequate in calories. If you have an intense fear of gaining weight or feel that your eating is compulsive and out of control, you should also be assessed for eating disorders.
Get Help for an Eating Disorder
Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, often lead to amenorrhea. Eating disorders are serious disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake or severe overeating. They are accompanied by feelings of distress or extreme concern about body shape or weight.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which you have an obsession with dieting and exercise that leads to excessive weight loss.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which you eat large amounts of food (binging) and then use inappropriate means (vomiting, laxatives, excessive exercise) to rid your body of the food (purging). You eat compulsively and feel unable to stop, then purge to prevent gaining weight.
If you think you may have an eating disorder, seek help from your doctor.
Reduce Your Stress Level
High levels of stress can disrupt your menstrual periods. In addition to reducing your overall stress level, you should get more rest and relaxation. You may also benefit from relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, yoga, and biofeedback. These techniques help you pay attention to tension in your body and release it with exercises that help quiet your mind and relax your muscles. Regular enjoyable activities can also help you relieve stress.
Abnormal uterine bleeding. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated May 6, 2016. Accessed September 15, 2016.
Amenorrhea. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116009/Amenorrhea. Updated March 14, 2016. Accessed September 15, 2016.
Menstruation and the menstrual cycle fact sheet. Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated December 23, 2014. Accessed September 15, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2017 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 9/17/2014
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