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When Period Pain is More than PMS

For many women, their monthly period is a time of discomfort and other mild side effects. But for some women, their menstrual cycles involve pain, excess bleeding or a number of other serious symptoms. If your period falls into that category, you may be suffering from a menstrual disorder. 

A menstrual disorder is one of a number of medical conditions that cause a change in a woman's menstrual cycle. It can be caused by a variety of things including, hormonal imbalances, infections, cancer, medical diseases, trauma, and medications. The three main categories of menstrual disorders are metrorrhagia, menorhagia, and dysmenorrhea. 

Metrorrhagia bleeding is when a woman's period is absent, infrequent or extremely irregular. The causes for metrorrhagia can include uncontrolled diabetes; eating disorders; hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism; perimenopause; or PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). 

Menorrhagia is heavy or unusually prolonged bleeding. Causes of menorrhagia can include uterine fibroids; polyps; bleeding disorders; thyroid disease; PCOS; and certain medications. 

Dysmenorrhea is a period that is accompanied by extreme pain. Causes of dysmenorrheal can include endometriosis; ademyosis (the presence of endometrium outside the lining of the uterus); uterine fibroids; uterine polyps; and certain medical conditions. 

Diagnosing Menstrual Disorders 

If your doctor suspects you are suffering from a menstrual disorder, he or she will first do a thorough medical history and physical exam. You might have blood tests done, as well as an ultrasound exam. 

Depending on the initial findings, as well as your symptoms, your doctor may perform an endometrial biopsy (in which a small sample of the endometrial lining of the uterus is removed to be examined) or a hysteroscopy (in which a diagnostic scope allows the physician to examine the inside of the uterus). Additional diagnostic procedures may include a saline infusion sonohysterography (ultrasound imaging of the uterine cavity while it is filled with sterile saline solution) or transvaginal ultrasound. 

Treating Menstrual Disorders 

In some cases, pain relief such as NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications) or oral contraceptives may be enough to bring relief. 

For more severe cases, there are a variety of treatment options, ranging from minimally invasive treatments to hysterectomy. 

If you have concerns about your menstrual cycle, discuss them with your physician. 

To get answers to all of your women's health questions, register to attend one of our upcoming women's health seminars!

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Being able to eat vegetables and herbs you've grown is a fulfilling feeling. Even if it's just a couple tomatoes and some basil, homegrown produce is healthy, tasty and fun. If you don't have a ton of yard space, you can still manage a garden - just use containers!

You can raise substantial amounts of many edibles in containers on a patio, deck, porch or balcony.

Container gardening has grown rapidly recently and we have developed an increasing number of compact and dwarf varieties intended to succeed in small spaces. Containers also make it easier for you to control the soil, light, water and fertilizer.

Here are some tips for getting started with container vegetable gardening:

  • Bigger is better. The greatest challenge of container vegetable growing is watering, since soil dries out faster in pots than in the ground. A larger volume of soil won't dry out as fast, so choose the biggest pot you can. It's fine to mix compatible plants in a single large pot. Make certain that any container has holes so excess water can drain away from the soil.
  • Plan for watering. So-called "self-watering" containers have a reservoir beneath the soil topped with a grid through which the roots can reach down to the water. With these containers you won't have to water as often, but you still have to keep that reservoir filled. And in the hot summer, mature plants will empty that reservoir fast, so you may have to fill it daily. Spread mulch over the soil in pots just as you would in a garden, to keep moisture from evaporating. Planning a summer vacation? It's wise to stick to spring and fall crops, such as greens, peas and radishes, and let the pot garden go fallow while you're gone.
  • Start with herbs. They are easy, especially if you begin with transplants, and will add a fresh-grown taste to almost any meal. Just remember to give them the conditions they prefer. All herbs need full sun, but some, such as rosemary, prefer dryer soil and fewer nutrients; basil needs more fertilizer and watering.
  • Move it. With pots, you may be able to finesse a sun shortage. Place a wheeled pot trolley (available in garden centers) under a large pot and move it to follow the sun. For example, move it into the sun in the morning; in the evening, when you want to sit on the patio, scoot it out of the way.
  • Green up. Baby greens, such as lettuce and spinach, are perhaps the simplest vegetables to grow, beginning in spring when they will tolerate cool temperatures. Sow seeds right in the pot. They will take a week or more to sprout, but then will quickly reach a harvest size of three to four inches. Use scissors to snip off only the largest leaves and you can keep your harvest going for several weeks. Then pull out the plants and re-sow. 
  • Try tomatoes! Tomatoes are a tough but rewarding vegetable to grow. For pots, seek out dwarf varieties that are "determinate" - meaning they will grow to a certain size, then stop and bear all their fruit in a few weeks. Choose cherry tomatoes or those with fruit no more than two inches across, and if you can, buy transplants rather than trying to start your first tomatoes from seed. You will need a large container, at least the size of a five-gallon bucket. Self-watering containers are wise because they even out the water and fertilizer supply and deter cracking, but you still will need to water frequently in summer. Tomatoes sprawl and the fruits get heavy, so provide a cage for all but the most dwarf determinate tomato varieties. Or install sturdy stakes when you plant and be attentive to tying new shoots to the stakes.

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