Menstrual Disorders Diagnosis

With the many types of menstrual disorders that can affect women, most will experience an irregularity or concern at some point in their lives. As soon as you start to experience a change or have a concern about your menstrual cycle, be sure to talk to your doctor, who can provide you with accurate and useful information.

Here is a rundown of how to keep track of your menstrual cycle so that you can provide your doctor with as much detailed information as he needs to properly diagnose your menstrual disorder.

Menstrual Diary

Keeping a menstrual diary will allow both you and your doctor to analyze your periods with useful information. Write down the dates that your period begins and ends, along with any additional symptoms you may be having. Other information to write down includes:

  • the days you experience cramps, heavy bleeding or other discomfort
  • the emotional symptoms you experience
  • whether or not you suffer from PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome)

Diagnosing premenstrual disorders will depend on the information you provide. The more details you can document, the more information your doctor will have to consider during diagnosis.

Commonly, women experience menstrual changes and concerns when going through a particularly stressful time. Stress, worry and major life changes can all lead to hormonal shifts that may alter a menstrual cycle. Your doctor will want to consider whether stress is contributing to your menstrual concerns.

Medical Questions

When you visit your physician with menstrual concerns, remember that the more information you are able to provide, the more accurately your condition will be diagnosed. You will be asked about the dates and lengths of your periods, any current medication you may be taking (this includes vitamins), previous gynecological surgery and/or disorders.

There are some non-menstrual conditions that cause abdominal pain and can be confused with menstrual disorders. They are appendicitis, urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and even ectopic pregnancy.

Your doctor will most likely ask you questions about:

  • contraceptive use
  • diet and weight change
  • family medical history
  • medications you are taking
  • menstrual cycle patterns
  • sexual history
  • stress (current changes in your life)
  • your family’s medical history
  • your own history of pelvic pain.

Examination and Tests

A routine pelvic exam will be part of a diagnostic exam. If one is suffering from AUB (abnormal uterine bleeding), a full medical examination may include some or all of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Brain imaging: This will allow for a view of the pituitary gland.
  • Diagnostic hysteroscopy: This test, which may take place in your doctor’s office or at a hospital, may employ local or general anesthesia. The uterine cavity is studied through a telescope-like instrument, called a hysteroscope.
  • Endometrial biopsy: A small amount of uterine tissue is scraped and removed for analysis.
  • Ultrasound: High-frequency sound waves are reflected off of the pelvis so that the image can be studied. This is particularly useful in discovering fibroids, structural abnormalities and endometriosis.

Lab tests will usually accompany all other testing. Blood and urine will be checked for thyroid function, hormone activity, the presence of anemia (an obvious concern with heavy bleeding) and pregnancy.

Further Diagnostic Testing

Depending on the type and severity of the symptoms, more invasive testing procedures may be necessary to determine (or rule out) specific pathological problems. Further tests include:

  • Endometrial biopsy: This removes small amount of endometrial tissue for evaluation. May be performed with a D