Conditions InDepth: Menstrual Disorders: Heavy Bleeding (Menorrhagia) and Absence of Menstruation (Amenorrhea)
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- Hormonal imbalances
- High levels of prolactin in the blood—hyperprolactinemia
- Eating disorders
- Psychiatric disorders
- Low or high body fat
- Rapid weight loss
- Excessive exercise or intense physical training
- Other conditions
Metrorrhagia—usually light bleeding in between periods (during an otherwise regular cycle)
- Light bleeding in between periods can have many causes. It can be the result of a hormonal imbalance (causing lack of ovulation), medications (birth control pill), infections, abnormal growths on the cervix or uterus, or miscarriage.
Menometrorrhagia—bleeding irregularly in between periods, then bleeding heavily at expected menses
- When a woman loses greater than 80 mL of blood during menses and also bleeds irregularly in between periods, it is called menometrorrhagia. This can be caused by a number of factors including hormone imbalances.
Hypomenorrhea—very light periods
- Female athletes often have light periods and/or fewer periods due to the hormonal changes associated with extreme exercise and low body mass index. Anorexia and other conditions may also be associated with hypomenorrhea, oligomenorrhea (too few menses), or amenorrhea.
Anovulatory cycle—because ovulation does not occur, no corpus luteum is formed; the cycle may be of any length and may be unpredictable
- In a normal ovulatory cycle, ovulation occurs. The cycle is regular whether or not it is the usual 28-day cycle (ovulation on day 14); or, say, a 35-day cycle (ovulation on day 21). When ovulation does not occur, the corpus luteum is not able to produce the hormones (for 14 days) that prepare the uterus and stop it from shedding. Menstrual flow can happen at any time.
- Polymenorrhea—too many menses close together (less than typical 21 days)
- Oligomenorrhea—too few cycles (menses far apart)
Abnormal uterine bleeding. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 15, 2012. Accessed August 20, 2012.
Amenorrhea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 15, 2012. Accessed August 20, 2012.
Menstruation and the menstrual cycle fact sheet. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menstruation.html. Updated October 21, 2009. Accessed August 20, 2012.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
- Review Date: 09/2015 -
- Update Date: 09/17/2014 -