Irregular menstruation is when the length of the cycle is more than 35 days, or if the duration varies.
Let us first know what exactly menstruation is?
A menstruation cycle usually referred to as period is a cycle of 28 to 35 days. It is the shedding of blood and tissue from the uterine lining of the womb through the vagina. This usually lasts for 2 to 8 days and happens after a complete cycle of 28 to 35 days.
Now, this is what we usually refer to as regular menstruation. However, medically speaking there cannot be any specific definition of regular menstruation.
This is because every woman is different and so the functioning of her body.
So, it totally depends how your menstrual cycle has been running and that is what regular period is for you.
For some, the period date is fixed and for some, it is an unpredictable phenomenon. Some experience heavy blooding, while some just shed for 2 days, some experience pain while some do not even realize when the period went by.
This clears one thing there cannot be any specific definition for the regular or irregular period.
Now, if you want to analyze your menstrual cycle, then check with these things and then compare:
- Duration of the period: How long does your period usually last?
- How is the flow of bleeding? What is the quantity of your flow? Is it heavy, light or normal? How many times do you change your pad or tampon within a day?
- Pain: do you experience any pain during the menstrual cycle?If yes, what is the intensity of the pain?
- Look for any other changes: what other changes do you experience during your period?
Mood swings, pimples, weight gain, stomach bloating, fatigue are the things that happen to certain women.
Symptoms of Irregular period:
A period symptom may be regular for one is irregular for another. So, here the important point is while analyzing your menstrual cycle comparison has to be made to your own cycle and not to anyone else.
Now, once you have noted these important factors, check if there is any deviation. If there are changes than the usual course then you are having an irregular period. Like:
- Bleeding that lasts longer than usual or lasts shorter than usual.
- Bleeding that is lighter or heavier than usual.
- You experience pain or no pain.
- Menstrual cycle shorter than 28 days or longer than 35 days.
- You experience hormonal changes, leading to other factors.
- Irregular Menstrual-Bleeding: Bleeding that lasts over 20 days in an individual cycle and extends for more than a year.
- Absent Menstrual-Bleeding: Absence of bleeding for over 90 days.
- Heavy vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor.
- Extreme weight loss
- Extreme weight gain
- Emotional stress
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
Still, there are some generalized symptoms which are related to the regular period.
- Weight gain or loss
- Unusual hair growth
- Nipple discharge
Causes of Irregular menstruation:
Understanding the menstrual cycle:
The menstrual cycle is controlled by chemicals and hormones regulated by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain. These glands work in conjunction to stimulate the ovaries and regulate the menstrual cycle. Any Dysfunction in these glands leads to irregular period.
There are intrinsic or internal causes or extrinsic or external causes responsible for the improper functioning of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands which lead to irregular periods.
The menstrual cycle is a result of the formation of an egg in the ovary which does not happen during pregnancy. So, there would not be any period during pregnancy.
An irregular period is a very common phenomenon during the initial and final stages of the menstrual cycle.
Like during the time, when you have just hit puberty period would take almost 2 years to form a normal menstruation cycle. Similar is the case in the last two or three years of reproductive years i.e. before menopause. So, during these times a woman usually experience irregular menstruation.
Any formation of cancerous tumor or cysts in the ovary will lead to irregular period.
Normally, the brain produces and delivers messenger hormones that regulate the menstruation cycle by triggering the production of other hormones.
A common cause of irregular period is hormonal misbalance either the messenger hormones produced by the brain or menstruation hormone produced by the menstruation organs.
However, the reasons for hormonal misbalance are mostly unknown.
Contraceptive medicines are taken to prevent pregnancy. They disturb the entire menstruation cycle which leads to many changes like an untimely period, heavy bleeding, severe pain and hormonal misbalance. The side-effects of these pills can lead to an irregular period.
Medications that you are taking to cure some other disorder may sometimes lead to thickening or thinning of blood which disturbs the quality of blood flow during the period.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is commonly known as PCOS or PCOD
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common hormone disorder in which a number of small, fluid-filled sacs known as cysts develop in the ovaries.
PCOD women do not ovulate every month, which leads to many hormonal changes like- obesity, acne, pigmentation, stress, abnormal hair growth and fertility issues.
This has become quite common in the last few years. Every 3 out of 10 women have acquired this syndrome.
The thyroid gland produces hormones in women which regulates menstruation. In case, there is an issue with the thyroid gland, the women will start experiencing an irregular period.
The endometrial cells found the inner lining of the uterus. In Endometriosis, the cells start founding a layer outside the uterus.
This is the lining which sheds blood during menstruation. In the absence of this lining inside the uterus, no bleeding happens. This disorder is most likely to affect women during their childbearing years.
So, it makes it very important to treat it. Though there are not many symptoms, it has huge long-term adverse effects.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a kind of infection in the female reproductive organs which is a form of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), other than AIDS.
If diagnosed timely, it can easily be treated with anti-biotic but if not the infection may reach to other internal organs like fallopian tubes and the uterus then it becomes very difficult to get it under control.
Fibroids in the Uterus
The formation of small cysts or noncancerous tumors in the uterus is one common phenomenon these days. It usually happens to woman post-pregnancy.
It leads to very heavy bleeding or absolutely no bleeding type of symptoms. There are chances these tumors develop into cancerous ones. So, it is advisable to get them removed through surgery or medication.
A very rare case is when the ovary stops functioning too early in life. This is termed as, “Premature ovarian failure” or “early menopause”. The normal age at which period stops is between 45 to 55 years. If you stop ovulating before that, then it is the case of Premature Menopause. In that case, you will experience all those symptoms of irregular periods.
It is a hormonal disorder which happens when the woman is in too much stress. It happens when the body releases too much of cortisol which is produced when the body is in too much stress.
This also happens when you take medicines for stress which contains too many corticosteroids. In both these cases, the body starts reacting to that hormone which has been produced in excess and it leads to an irregular period.
High level of Prolactin in the blood
The medical terms for this disorder are, “Hyperprolactinemia”. It is a common hormonal disorder in which there are higher than normal levels of prolactin, FSH, LH, oestradiol, and progesterone in the blood. It totally disturbs the menstrual cycle and leads to a huge irregularity in the period.
Sometimes, when Intrauterine devices scar the womb to an extent that its inner lining is scrapped. This usually happens after pregnancy when Intrauterine devices are used either for abortion, removing placental remnants after childbirth or for the removal of uterine fibroids.
The common symptom of this situation is excessive pain during menstruation and miscarriage during pregnancy. The medicine taken to cure the situation leads to irregular periods.
The thyroid gland produces hormones which control functions like weight loss or weight gain and heartbeat. If it is too active, it either leads to excessive weight loss or weight gain.
This is called hyperthyroidism and it totally disturbs your menstrual cycle. This is one major reason responsible for your disturbed cycle. Is this is the case, then the symptoms would be quite visible in the form of sudden weight loss or weight gain.
This is a case of hormonal misbalance, in which body goes through irregular menstruation multiple times in a year. This happens when the body is under too much stress or it put to too much exertion.
This also happens when body losses or gains too much weight due to lifestyle changes or dietary changes.
Another reason leading to this condition is too much smoking or excessive drinking.
If puberty or menopause are the causes responsible for irregular periods, then you do not actually need any treatment. You will start seeing it getting back to normal in some time.
If irregular bleeding is due to contraceptive pills that you had been taking, then you should stop taking those medicines and take to other measures to prevent pregnancy.
If the irregularity continuous even after you stop taking the medicine then you should see your doctor. The contraceptive may have done severe damage to the reproductive system and you will need alternative medication to cure that.
If irregular periods are the result of an imbalance of hormones in the body then the only option is to see your doctor and start taking medicine to restore hormonal balance in the body.
In cases of PCOS, is responsible for the irregular period, then the best solution lies in making some lifestyle changes.
In PCOD, the body starts putting on weight which leads to the production of insulin and hence a higher level of testosterone.
To stop this vicious cycle, you have to lose weight. This may be done through dietary changes, exercises or yoga. Once you lose the body will stop producing excessive testosterone and hence you will get back to ovulating as before.
If the irregular period symptoms are caused by an underlying bleeding disorder or systemic disease, your doctor will treat the primary disease first and hence your menstrual cycle will also get back to normal.
If dysfunction with the thyroid gland is responsible for the irregular period, then the doctor will start treating the primary cause of irregular period. Once that is treated your period will get back to normal.
If Stress and eating disorders are responsible for an irregular period then you need to help different sort of help.
For stress, you must see a Psychologist who will be able to relive you from emotional stress or you must take to Yoga and meditation which are the best solution to deal with stress.
If lifestyle changes have triggered irregular periods then you have to take to a healthy lifestyle. You have to switch to a healthy diet, do some moderate exercise and workout, stop drinking alcohol and stop smoking.