What Are Irregular Periods?
BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), 10 years of experience
What is the meaning of Irregular Periods?
An irregular period is a condition in which the menstrual cycle of a woman takes different amounts of time each month. For example, a girl may get her menstrual period after 28 days one month and after 45 days the following month. Irregular periods are a common occurrence, especially in the first few years of getting menstrual periods. Menstruation in women is an ovulation process, that is, about two weeks before the start of every menstrual period an egg is released from the ovary. The egg travels through a tube known as the fallopian tube into the uterus (womb). When this egg is not fertilized by the sperm during sexual intercourse, the lining of the uterus and the egg leave the uterus of the girl and result in a menstrual period. This happens every month in the case of regular periods and is therefore known as a menstrual cycle.
Menstrual bleeding occurs once a month and the cycle of menstruation is about 28 days long. The cycles may be short or long for different women. A majority of the women feel embarrassed to talk about menstruation. Some women are troubled by the problem of irregular menstruation or periods.
Let us know about irregular periods in detail through today’s article.
- What are Irregular Periods?
- What are the causes of Irregular Periods?
- What are the symptoms of Irregular Periods?
- How to diagnose Irregular Periods?
- What is the treatment of Irregular Periods?
- What are the complications of Irregular Periods?
- How to prevent Irregular Periods?
What Are Irregular Periods?
If the menstrual cycle is proper in a woman, then the cycle occurs at the right time. Regular cycles occur within 21 to 35 days. If the time is less or more than a month, it is called irregular periods or menstruation.
There is nothing to panic about irregular periods. However, if the cycle remains irregular for a long time, it requires treatment.
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What are the causes of Irregular Periods?
The causes of irregular periods are:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): It is a condition of hormonal imbalance caused due to the ovaries creating excess male hormones (known as androgens)
- Uterine fibroids or polyps: They are small non-cancerous growths in the lining of the uterus
- Endometriosis: A condition in which the endometrial tissue which generally lines the uterus starts growing outside the uterus
- Pelvic inflammatory disease: It is a type of bacterial infection that affects the female reproductive system
- Premature ovarian insufficiency: This is a condition seen in which the menstrual cycle stops due to the abnormal functioning of the ovaries. It is usually seen in women under 40 years of age.
- Cancer of the uterus or cervical (cervix is the lowermost part of the uterus) cancer
- Medications like steroids and other blood thinners
- Bleeding disorders
- Thyroid gland disorders
- Hormonal imbalance
- Complications associated with pregnancy
- Changes in the exercise routine
- Use of birth control (contraceptive) pills
- Physical fatigue due to traveling
- Excessive increase or decrease in weight
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What are the symptoms of Irregular Periods?
Irregular periods could lead to the following symptoms:
- Menstrual periods that could be less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart
- Heavy menstrual flow
- Missing three or more menstrual periods successively
- Periods that last for more than 7 days
- Bleeding or spotting occurring between the menstrual periods, after sex, or after menopause (natural stopping of the menstrual cycle)
- Periods accompanied by nausea, vomiting, pain, or excessive cramping
(Know more about-What is Hormonal Imbalance in Females? Causes, Symptoms, Treatment)
How to diagnose Irregular Periods?
- It is important to keep track of the menstrual cycle. An accurate record of when the menstrual period begins and ends, along with the amount of blood flow and if there is any passage of large blood clots should be maintained.
- Any other symptoms associated with the menstrual cycles such as bleeding between menstrual periods, excessive pain, or cramping should be informed to the doctor.
- Physical examination: The doctor will examine the patient physically, and ask the patient about any previous medical history.
- Pelvic exam: The doctor will insert one or two gloved fingers into the vagina to check for the uterus, ovaries, and other female reproductive organs.
- Pap test: This is a test done to check for cervical cancer.
- Blood tests: Blood tests are recommended to rule out anemia (iron deficiency) or other medical disorders.
- Vaginal cultures: It helps to check for any infections.
- Pelvic ultrasound: It is an imaging test in which sound waves are used to check for uterine polyps, fibroids, or an ovarian cyst (a fluid-filled or solid pockets inside an ovary or on the surface of an ovary)
- Endometrial biopsy: It is a procedure in which a sample of the tissue growth is removed from the lining of the uterus and sent to the laboratory to diagnose if there is any presence of cancer cells, endometriosis, or any hormonal imbalance.
- Laparoscopy: A procedure in which the doctor inserts a thin lighted tube known as a laparoscope into an incision (cut) made in the abdomen to view the uterus and ovaries. It helps in the diagnosis of conditions like endometriosis.
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What is the treatment of Irregular Periods?
Irregular periods or menstruation is treated depending on its underlying cause in the following ways:
- Hormonal therapy: Hormonal therapy is used to regulate menstruation. It connects the ovaries to the brain and uses hormone therapy to interfere with the brain’s circuits. It stabilizes the fluctuations in the hormonal levels and improves ovulation. This regularizes the menstrual cycle.
- Thyroid treatment: Women who have thyroid gland problems, have irregular menstruation. The gynecologist prescribes medicines to fix this problem.
- PCOS treatment: Women with the PCOS problem mostly have increased weight. Women must lose weight. Being stress-free is important for the same. Birth-control pills and oral medications focus on hormones to treat this condition.
- Change in birth control method: If one suffers from irregular periods after three months of hormonal birth control method, the gynecologist may suggest other means of birth control like the use of condoms or intrauterine device (IUD) insertion.
- Lifestyle changes: Regular moderate exercise for 30 minutes is good to maintain regular periods. Avoid excessive exercising. Managing stress and weight maintenance is also important to prevent irregular periods.
- Surgery: A surgery may be recommended by the doctor when scarring or structural defects in the uterus or the fallopian tubes are causing irregular periods.
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What are the complications of Irregular Periods?
Irregular bleeding can cause the following complications:
- Anemia (iron deficiency in the body) due to excessive loss of blood
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- Painful cramping
- Dysmenorrhoea (painful menstrual periods)
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How to prevent Irregular Periods?
A few tips that can help in preventing irregular periods include:
- Do moderate exercise regularly
- Avoid strenuous and excessive exercises
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet which includes vitamins and minerals
- Manage stress
- Change sanitary napkins and tampons every four to six hours to prevent infections
- Visit your gynecologist for regular check-ups
( Know more about- Tips to Induce Periods )
We hope we could answer all your questions regarding irregular periods through this article.
If you have any problem related to the irregular period and want the treatment done, then contact a Gynecologist.
We aim to provide you with information through this article. We do not recommend any medicine or treatment to anyone. Only a doctor can give you the best advice and correct treatment plan.