What Is Retrograde Menstruation?

wiseGEEK

Retrograde menstruation is the backward movement of menstrual fluids through the fallopian tubes and into the peritoneal cavity. Although the exact reasons that cause retrograde menstruation to occur are unknown, the condition is believed to be a major cause of endometriosis. Certain signs and symptoms can suggest the occurrence of retrograde menstruation; if symptoms occur, health experts recommend seeing a gynecologist or health care provider.

In normal menstruation, the uterine lining sheds following ovulation without fertilization. Blood and endometrial tissue push forward out of the vagina, typically creating steady flow for 3-7 days of menstruation. When retrograde menstruation occurs, some blood and tissue flow backward up the fallopian tubes instead of forward and down through the vagina. If endometrial tissue clogs the fallopian tubes or reaches the peritoneal cavity, inflammation and illness can occur.

It is not known exactly what factors will create retrograde menstruation. Some suggest that vigorous yoga inversion poses, where the legs and hips are held above the torso, could cause some blood and tissue to flow up instead of down. For this reason, some health experts recommend avoiding yoga inversions or any other form of exercise inversion that could reverse blood flow during menstruation.

Some doctors suggest that almost all women experience some retrograde menstruation. Because the fluid and tissue can drain harmlessly, many may experience no symptoms and have no idea the process occurs. The condition is typically diagnosed during pelvic exams or other gynecological examinations, usually after symptoms of inflammation have become to appear. Common symptoms that can suggest retrograde menstruation include stomach pain, soreness of the lower abdominal area, and pre-menstrual cramping even after menstruation ceases.

Endometriosis is the main concern when symptoms appear. This chronic condition is still little understood and difficult to treat, potentially giving victims frequent cycles of serious pain. Endometriosis refers to the growth of endometrial cells outside the uterus, such as on the lining of the pelvis, the fallopian tubes, or the intestines. These cellular implants can cause severe pain by settling onto nerves or leaving scars behind when detaching. The condition is believed to contribute to female infertility and chronic, often severe, pain in the pelvic region.

Although there may be several factors that contribute to the appearance of endometriosis or other pelvic infections, many health experts see retrograde menstruation as a leading culprit. To receive prompt diagnosis, contact a health professional for a full pelvic exam if symptoms such as pain, blood in the urine, odd or irregular menstrual bleeding, or diarrhea. Retrograde menstruation can only occur after menstruation has commenced, but endometriosis can sometimes occur in pre- or post-menopausal women.

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Feminists call this and “uptight uterus.” Along with Yoga living with your natural endocrine cycle is crucial to your menstrual health, but your overall health and well being.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.