The normal menstrual cycle has a regular pattern that should be similar month after month. Periods should occur every 24-35 days. Bleeding should last no more than 8 days. Premenstrual syndrome should be mild and last no more than 3 days. Menstrual cramps should be mild-moderate and easily managed with over-the-counter medicines. Symptoms that do not meet these descriptions may be a sign of a hormonal abnormality and should be evaluated to identify the underlying cause of the abnormality. Depending on the hormonal abnormality, these symptoms may indicate that a woman is at risk for infertility or miscarriages, has an increased risk of cancer, indicate that menopause is approaching prematurely, or in some cases indicate the presence of a hormone-secreting tumor.
THE COMMON THREAD IN PATIENT EXPERIENCES
Many women who seek treatment from their gynecologist or family doctor for concerns about their hormones are dissatisfied with the care they received. They express concern that no effort was made to identify the underlying cause of their symptoms and rather, the doctor recommended simply “covering up” the symptom by suppressing the natural menstrual cycle with a hormonal contraceptive. Women worry about the side effects of hormonal contraceptives and especially about the increasing evidence that long-term use of hormonal contraceptives increase their risk of certain kinds of cancer, such as breast cancer.
The Gianna Alternative
Doctors at the Gianna Center recognize these symptoms as a sign of an underlying health problem and start by identifying the cause of the symptoms. They educate the patient about the functions of her body and what can go wrong to cause the symptoms. Testing may include hormonal tests, ultrasounds of the uterus and ovaries and sometimes more advanced imaging such as MRI. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment is directed at correcting the underlying problem to restore health and normal function.
Patients interested in finding out whether or not their symptoms indicate an underlying hormonal abnormality, or who are looking for alternatives to hormonal contraceptives, are encouraged to schedule an initial consultation at their local Gianna Center. For patients who do not have access to a Gianna Center in their community, several Gianna affiliates offer remote consultations by phone.