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Menstruation should not be more than a minor nuisance. If your periods are taking over your life and making you miserable, it's time to find out what's happening so you can have your life back.

It is, probably, fair to say that most women don't particularly look forward to their periods. Some may breathe a sigh of relief when their menstruation signals they're not pregnant, while others see their periods as a spiritual event. Most probably just see it as a minor annoyance. They're the lucky ones. For a minority of women, periods represent a monthly hell fraught with serious physical and emotional symptoms.

What are periods from hell, what causes them, and what are your options if you are the victim of this horror every month?

Hellish Periods Defined

All kinds of things can go wrong with menstrual cycles. Women can have extremely light bleeding (hypomenorrhea), irregular and thus unpredictable cycles, a complete absence of periods (amenhorria), and very infrequent periods (oligomenorrhea), for instance. Those things can have serious consequences like making it much harder to get pregnant. They're not what we'd call periods from hell, though. So what do those look like? SteadyHealth spoke to one woman who knows all about that to find out more.

Ellie is an easygoing, fun, and very social person — nearly all month long. A few days before her period starts, that all changes dramatically and she turns into something she herself can only describe as an "ogre". Not only does she suffer from severe pelvic pain throughout her period, she needs to use pads and tampons simultaneously to ensure her body doesn't resemble a blood bath.

A geriatric nurse, Ellie has even asked her clients for incontinence pads to ensure she doesn't leak, because regular menstrual products just don't cut it for her extra heavy menstrual periods.

While both those symptoms represent very serious issues by themselves, that's not all she has to deal with. Her terrible mood swings take her through the whole range of human emotions within the time span of a few hours. She goes from inconsolable weeping to yelling at her boyfriend for no apparent reason, only to find herself laughing hysterically a little while later. Yes, she feels terrible about it. 

Does that sound like a dramatic caricature of menstruation to you? You know, the kind of thing men might say about periods (if they knew no actual women)? Unfortunately, Ellie's story is no exaggeration. Rather it's reality for her, once every 27 days for up to a week. The only consolation is that her symptoms do taper off towards the end of her period.

Ellie is far from alone. For too many women, periods really do become a monthly hell that involves pain, heavy bleeding, prolonged bleeding and emotional symptoms they can barely cope with. Some of those women have have lived with unbearable periods for years, believing that their experience is normal for them. Here's the thing: these periods are not normal, and medical help often is available. 

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