What are Irregular Periods?

A normal menstrual period is characterised by a menstrual cycle which can range from 25-35 days.

Irregular periods are identified by disturbances to the normal cycle where the periods are either delayed, missed or infrequent. Many women experience this regularly, and there are several factors that may have an impact on the menstruation process.

An example of an abnormal menstruation is Amenorrhea, which is a condition in which a woman′s periods have stopped completely. The absence of a period of more than 90 days is considered abnormal except in the case of a woman who is pregnant, breastfeeding or menopausal.

Another example is Oligomenorrhea, it is the medical term for infrequent menstrual periods, fewer than six to eight periods per year. Infrequent menstrual periods cause woman to ovulate irregularly. On the other hand, Dysmenorrhea refers to painful periods and severe menstrual cramps.

Some more examples of irregular periods include:

  • Menstrual flow that is much heavier or lighter than usual
  • Long lasting periods more than seven days
  • Painful Periods
  • Intermenstrual bleedings

What causes Irregular Periods?

The normal period cycle can be disturbed if the woman is using any hormonal method of contraception or if there is an imbalance of the reproductive hormones. Irregular periods can also be a consequence of lifestyle change, alteration of the environment and internal health complication.

Stress is one common cause of irregular periods. Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight, dieting, changes in exercise routines, and illness can have an impact on a woman′s menstrual cycle.

Another cause is the presence of uterine polyps or fibroids, which can cause heavy bleeding and pain during periods. Moreover, endometriosis can cause abnormal bleeding, cramps or pain prior and during periods, and pain during intercourse. Moreover, pelvic inflammatory disease (a bacterial infection that affects the female reproductive system), may also contribute to the occurrence of irregular menstruation.

Furthermore, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance. Thus preventing the eggs from maturing, and, therefore, ovulation cannot take place. Sometimes a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome will have irregular, light periods or no periods at all. Often PCOS is linked to overweight or obesity.

Also, premature ovarian failure, which is a condition that occurs in women under the age of 40, whose ovaries do not function normally, have irregular or absent menstrual cycles.

How are Irregular Periods diagnosed?

The evaluation begins with taking the history of the menstrual cycles and physical examination, of the pelvic organs. As part of the examination the doctor might also check the breast, neck, armpits and abdomen.

The next step will be the blood test, to check the levels of hormones produced by the ovaries, thyroid gland and prolactin. The blood test can also help to rule out an existing imbalance and infection.

An ultrasound, and eventually a hysteroscopy may be conducted to examine the uterine cavity for any abnormalities.

Treatments and Prevention of Irregular Periods

The treatment is based absolutely on the underlying disorder. For women who are trying to become pregnant, restoring fertility may be the main goal.

Hormonal imbalances and thyroid gland disorders: when treated with medicines prescribed by a doctor,can help control bleeding periods.

Try to maintain a healthy Lifestyle: By changing of habits that trigger irregular periods by increasing exercising moderately, eating low-fat foods, stop excessive drinking alcohol and smoking and make sure to get enough rest. Certain yoga techniques and exercises are also available to help normalise periods. Stress management is also an effective way to gain normal cycle.

Possible treatment options can be discussed in our Out Patient Clinic during your consultation visit.

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