An irregular period or irregular menstrual cycle happens for an unexpected reason. Irregular periods are normal, especially in a teenager’s first few years of getting her period. Menstrual cycle is different in every woman. Some hit or miss and unpredictable. A regular period comes in every 24 to 38 days and lasts about 2 to 8 days. When the time between each period changes is known as an irregular period. In an irregular period, women lose more or less blood than usual. The number of days also fluctuates a lot in irregular period. After puberty many women develops a regular menstrual cycle.
Are your periods irregular? You even don’t know when will you get your period? The answer is very easy, just follow the clues your body is showing. The clues your body is showing are:
- Back cramps and stiffness
- Heavier breasts or breast soreness
- Loose stools
- Acne breakouts
- Mood swings
- Changing sleep pattern
To understand irregular periods, a woman should know what regular period is. Do you know when a girl gets its first period? A girl gets its first period between the ages of 10-15 and called as Menarche.
A number of days of monthly cycle counted when the girls gets her period till the next time she gets her period. The monthly cycle is around 28 day’s average, but it may vary. A girl may notice that the length of her monthly cycle changes each month for the few years she gets her first period.
During the early stage of monthly cycle, girl’s ovaries start preparing one egg. The lining of her uterus start becoming thick, to prepare a nesting place for a fertilized eggs, for the event of girl’s pregnancy.
Do you know about ovulation? Ovulation is a period when the egg is released from the ovary 2 weeks before when the girl gets her period. The egg travels through the fallopian tube into the uterus and if the egg is not fertilized from the sperm, it falls apart. Then the lining and egg leaves the girl’s body as her period.
A girl may skip her period or have irregular period during the first 2 years of getting her first period. There are many things that cause irregular period like illness, change in weight, stress, going on a trip, or major changes in regular schedule also affects your monthly cycle. But this is normal to get irregular periods. Level of hormones body makes is also different from one cycle to another, and this affects the amount and length of the bleeding during periods.
Causes of Irregular Periods
There are many causes and reasons of irregular periods. There are number of factors that increase the chance of irregular menstruation cycle.
- Hormonal imbalance
Two hormones impact menstruation cycle named estrogen and progesterone. These two hormones regulate period cycle. A woman face hormonal imbalance during puberty, menopause, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
During puberty, woman undergoes major changes. In this progesterone and estrogen remain imbalanced for several years, and irregular periods are common at this stage of life.
Before menopause, irregular periods are normal and the amount of blood women lose may be more or less. If the menstruation cycle doesn’t happen from last 1 year, then the menopause happens. When the menopause occurs, women are free from period problem.
During pregnancy, there is no menstruation issue but many problem occurs, so be careful. While a woman is on breast-feeding, again a woman faces irregular periods.
Are you on contraceptives? Contraceptives also cause irregular periods. Contraceptives can cause heavy bleeding and also spotting between the periods.
Being overweight is another cause for getting irregular periods. Being overweight affects hormones and insulin levels, which can affect a girl’s menstrual cycle. Being overweight and having irregular periods are common symptoms of PCOS and hypothyroidism.
- Underweight and eating disorders
Excessive weight loss affects your menstrual cycle and can cause your period to stop. Not having proper food affects production of the hormones, which is needed for ovulation process. Along with stopped periods, you may also experience hair loss, fatigue, and headaches.
- Excessive exercise
Intense exercise also interferes with the hormones responsible for menstruation. Female athletes and dancers undergo with this problem and develop amenorrhea, which means that you’re not getting your periods or missing them.
Stress affects your menstrual cycle. Stress temporarily interferes with the part of brain that controls the hormones that regulates your menstrual cycle. If the stress continues, irregularity with the period continues. When your stress decreases, your periods are back to normal.
Certain medications can interfere with your menstrual cycle. Medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, antidepressants, blood thinners, hormone replacement therapy, thyroid medications, chemotherapy drugs, epilepsy drugs, and more. When you change the medication, your period will comes to normal.
Symptoms of Irregular Periods
- If you have irregular periods, your monthly cycle may vary from 24 to 35 days, depending on the individual.
- Bleeding may also vary from 2 to 7 days in irregular period.
- It also considered irregular when there are changes in blood flow or the clots appear, which more than 2.5 centimeters in diameter is.
- Excessive pain during the periods is quiet normal in irregular periods.
Complications in Irregular Periods
Irregular periods sometimes are complicated and may lead to health problems and can also lead to fertility issues.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the condition in which the number of small, fluid-filled sacs known as cysts develops in the ovaries. A woman with PCOS doesn’t release egg every month and doesn’t ovulate. This causes irregular period or no period. Woman with PCOS have high level of male sex hormone, androgen, or testosterone.
- Thyroid Disorder
The thyroid gland sometimes produces hormones that affect body’s metabolism and causes irregular period.
- Cervical or Uterine Cancer
Cervical or uterine cancer, also called as cancer of the womb cause bleeding between periods or during sexual intercourse in rare cases.
Endometriosis is a condition in which cells that are normally found inside the uterus, called endometrial cells, grow outside it. The lining which should be found inside the uterus is found outside of it. These cells are produced every month and can affect woman by causing irregular period.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive system. This is the most common and serious infection in the women. If not treated early, it can damage fallopian tube or uterus. This results in excessive pain and causes irregular period.
Irregular periods affect your health. So, you should be aware about its causes, treatments, and complications. To maintain your health, every woman should keep its menstruation cycle on time. We hope every woman remain healthy and happy.
Irregular Periods- Effects on Body, Treatment, and When to consult
Irregular periods can have serious effects on the body which may be short term or long term health issues. If ignored for a long time, then it may cause more serious health issues and lead to distressing symptoms. Menstrual cycle health is related to your heart, metabolism, fertility, sleep, and more. It is important to diagnose potential issues as early as possible.
PCOS is a major issue that can affect a woman’s fertility. It is the condition of imbalanced hormones that control the reproductive system. PCOS has a major effect on an irregular period on the body. PCOS causes irregular ovulation, bleeding, infertility, double miscarriages, and premature deliveries.
Other effects of irregular periods on the body are thyroid issues, fibroids, diabetes, and endometriosis. Make sure that your periods are regular and if not, consult your doctor.
Other effects of irregular periods on your body are excessive pain, headaches, back cramps, acne, and bloating. There are many unexpected changes of irregular periods that effect your body like continuous pain in abdominal, uncontrolled weight, unusual hair growth on the face or body.
When to Consult your Doctor for Irregular Periods?
Every woman or girl will experience irregularity in her periods at some point in life. It is not necessary to consult a doctor every time when you’re getting irregular periods. Getting irregular periods is normal at many stages of a woman’s life. You should consult your doctor if you observe these symptoms:
- When your periods are unusually heavy.
- When you haven’t had your period from the last three months.
- When your periods become irregular all of a sudden.
- When your period lasts longer than a week.
- When you got your period twice a month.
- When you have your period less than once every 35 days.
- When you bleed between the periods.
- When your periods are extremely painful.
After noticing any of these symptoms, do consult your gynecologist immediately. Tell them the history of the menstrual cycle. Also, tell them about the recent changes you noticed in your body. After this, your doctor will perform a physical examination on you in order to know the reason behind your irregular periods that effect your body. Your gynecologist may perform some tests and may some more questions like:
- They may perform blood tests on you to check the levels of hormones and sugar in the blood. They check the level of testosterone, thyroid hormone, prolactin, and test of sugar metabolism.
- They may ask full history about your health, medical or surgical history, social history, work-life, and family history.
- They may perform ultrasound also of your ovaries and uterus.
Your doctor will help to guide for long-term health and get rid of irregular periods. Doctors will manage your cycle clinically.
How Irregular Periods affect your Pregnancy?
Irregular periods affect pregnancy complications or increase the risk of pregnancy. To know how it affects your pregnancy, it is important to know about the ovulation cycle. Ovulation occurs when the ovary releases a mature egg into the fallopian tube. The egg survives into the tube for 12-24 hours. Women get pregnant if the egg is fertilized with sperm.
If the cycle is regular, then the ovulation occurs on the 14th day before the next period dues; if the menstrual cycle is 28 long. If the menstrual cycle is 30 days long, the ovulation occurs on the 16th day before the next period dues.
If the women have irregular periods, she can’t calculate the ovulation day. As it is impossible to calculate when their ovaries will release a mature egg. If a woman can’t predict its ovulation then it is known as a complete lack of ovulation.
To avoid complications or risk in pregnancy when you have irregular periods, you should see your gynecologist or fertility specialist before conceiving. They will perform some blood tests and physical exam, in order to treat your irregular periods and decrease the risk or complication of pregnancy.
Treatment of irregular periods is depending on its cause. Different treatment comes with different reasons.
- There is no treatment of irregular periods during puberty or menopause. Irregular periods are normal during the puberty stage and menopause.
- If irregular periods happen due to contraceptive pills and remain for several months then you must consult your doctor. If the doctor suggests you other option than contraceptive pills for birth control, you must go for that option. Contraceptive pills affect your reproductive system badly.
- PCOS and overweight are the side effects of irregular periods. This may also affect ovulation. Try to lose weight with yoga and exercise. This will help you to balance your menstruation cycle. After losing weight, you’ll notice that your body doesn’t produce an excessive amount of insulin and testosterone. You’ll start ovulating slowly.
- If you have a thyroid problem, then your doctor will suggest you take medication or surgery.
- Release your stress to maintain your health. Psychological therapy will help you in emotional stress and treat your irregular periods. During psychological therapy, you’ll learn stress management and relaxing techniques.
- Eat healthy to stay healthy. Eating disorder is another reason for getting irregular periods. Change your eating habits by eating healthy food. Consult your doctor or dietician for your healthy diet.
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