Stomach ulcer is a painful sore (called peptic ulcer) that form in the stomach lining. It can lead to a number of symptoms, which some could be very bothersome and stressful. Interestingly, sometimes changes in menstrual bleeding occur in women with the disease. Can this gastric ulcer affect menstrual cycle?
Problems that women can have with their periods
Women of reproductive age can experience a range of problems affecting their periods, including heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, or skipped periods.
Also called menstrual cramp, it usually occurs before or/and during the menstrual bleeding. In teens and young women, it’s often considered harmless even though when they have severe cramps. But in older women, it may signal certain condition such as endometriosis (a disorder in which the endometrium develops outside the uterus) and uterine fibrosis (a benign tumor that grows in the uterus).
Symptoms include abdominal cramps, feeling of extra pressure in the abdomen, and pain in other parts of the body (such as lower back, hips, or thighs). If the cramps worsen, you may also experience upset stomach, vomiting, or loose stools.
It is a medical term for the lack /absence of menstruation. It can include one or more skipped menstrual periods. Many times, it’s caused by pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. Other causes; eating disorders, stress, certain medications, extreme weight loss, and too much exercising!
Depending on the underlying cause, it may cause other symptoms such as; hair loss, excess growth of facial hair, headache, vision impairment, acne flare-ups, and pelvic pain.
Abnormal uterine bleeding
It is different from normal periods, typically characterized by the following symptoms:
- Menstrual bleeding is heavier or longer than usual.
- It doesn’t occur at your regular times, for example between periods. Sometimes spotting may also occur anytime in your menstrual cycle.
- Bleeding occurs after menopause.
It can be attributed by many causes. These include hormonal changes, a clotting problem, or a growth in the uterus. Sometimes the underlying cause is unclear, not known!
Stomach and peptic ulcer
The stomach is one of the most important organs of your digestive system. It’s located in your abdomen area, on the left – just below the ribs. Foods that you eat go through esophagus and pushed down into the stomach. Here powerful digestive juices are mixed to help digest swallowed foods.
Pepsin and hydrochloric acid are two essential components of your digestive juices. But they can also play a role in developing ulcers:
- Pepsin, an enzyme that is responsible to help break down proteins from food that you eat. Since your stomach is also composed of protein, it could get hurt with the actions of pepsin.
- Hydrochloric acid. Too much hydrochloric acid is bad for the stomach lining which can contribute to cause ulcers, though many patients with stomach ulcer have normal acid levels. Experts believe that it is not solely responsible for triggering ulcers.
Thankfully, your stomach is equipped with a natural defense system so it will not get damaged easily. It has mucus layer, bicarbonate, and prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) that can help protect against powerful pepsin and acid. If any of these defense components doesn’t work well, you’re at high risk of developing ulcers because your stomach is more susceptible to the actions of pepsin and acid.
Stomach ulcer can be attributed by a variety of causes. The main ones are as follows:
- Infection caused by Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that commonly lives and grows in the mucous layer of small intestine and stomach. Helicobacter pylorus usually doesn’t cause problems. But sometimes it can lead to inflammation and ulcer.
- Certain medications. For example, long-term use of NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory medications) or some medicines for heart disease is associated with increased risk of peptic ulcers.
Not all people with Helicobacter pylori infection and taking NSAIDs develop ulcers. This suggests that other factors have a role to trigger the disease. In general, experts believe the risk of developing ulcers also increases with the following risk factors: cigarette smoking, too much drinking alcohol, extreme spicy foods, and if you have uncontrolled (untreated) stress.
Can stomach ulcer affect menstrual cycle?
During your menstrual bleeding, you normally shed your thickened uterine lining (including extra blood) through your genital organ. The intensity of your menstrual flow (in terms of how much blood you throw away) may vary from month to month, which can range from heavy, moderate, or light.
The same goes for the length of your menstrual bleeding, it can also vary. In most cases, it takes three or five days. But menstrual bleeding that lasts from 2 -7 days is still considered normal.
Normally, women cycles are in the range of 21 -35 days apart. Irregular, longer cycles are common for the first years of menstruation. As you age, your menstrual cycles are more likely to streamline and become more regular.
There are a number of factors or conditions that affects your monthly cycles. How about stomach ulcer?
Theoretically, stomach ulcer has nothing to do with menstrual cycle. Interestingly, some women find that they mess their period after the flare-up of the disease.
It seems that stomach ulcer may indirectly cause changes in some women’s menstrual cycles, how? Though this issue may be still debatable, in general the following are some possible explanations:
Feeling stressed out
Stomach ulcer symptoms can be very bothersome. These include stomach burning pain, heartburn, nausea, and bloating. Sometimes the disease may also cause feeling faint, difficulty breathing, appetite changes, unintentional weight loss, blood in the stools, or even vomiting blood.
All these symptoms can leave you feeling stressed. And we know well that stress can affect your periods.
The pain caused by stomach ulcer often gets worse with empty stomach, at night for example. This may affect your sleep, leading to sleep deprivation that can affect your entire health including menstrual cycle. In fact, women with lack of sleep are more likely to have irregular periods.
How about stomach ulcer medication?
Medications that change or involve hormones are more likely to influence menstrual periods. For examples; steroids, antipsychotics and thyroid medications!
In general, medications for peptic ulcer (such as antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, acid blockers, and antacids) don’t affect women’s menstrual cycle, because they have nothing to do with your hormones. But if you do believe that some medicines you’re taking may have an effect on your periods, ask your doctor!
When to see a doctor?
Sometimes stomach cancer looks like an ulcer at its early stage. This is especially true in elderly people. Clearly diagnosis of the disease is important.
Whether or not the problem of your menstrual cycle is associated with ulcers, see a doctor if:
- Your period becomes more irregular or very irregular than usual, especially after having had regular.
- It stops suddenly without known reason for more than 3 months.
- It occurs less often than every 5 weeks (35 days) or more often than every 3 weeks (21 days).
- Your menstrual bleeding often lasts more than 7 days.
- You have extreme menstrual bleeding. For example, you need to change your pad every 1-2 hours.
- You have bleeding between your periods.
- You experience very severe pain or cramp during your period, or if you also have other unusual symptoms such as feeling sick or high fever after using tampons.