Irregular periods are a reality for many women around you. If you also happen to suffer from it, you are not alone.
It is not a sign of any health problem in most cases. You can get it treated by your gynecologist.
The length of the menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman, however, the average is to have regular periods after 2 days. Regular Periods that are longer or shorter than these cycle lengths, from 21 to 40 days are normal.
This article will give you more information about what irregular periods are, their causes, symptoms, treatments, and home remedies. Make sure to follow along.
What Are Irregular Periods?
As the name suggests, the irregularity in women’s periods in terms of timing is being referred to here. In order to learn why they become irregular, let’s first look at menstruation and the menstrual cycle. This cycle follows a pattern and any irregularity in it can cause irregular periods.
What are Menstruation and Menstrual cycle?
Your periods are an indication of where you are in your menstrual cycle. It is a cycle because women go through the same routine every month at the start of which you have your period.
The first day of your regular period marks day one of your menstrual cycle. Period or menstruation is the time of bleeding where the tissue lining of the uterus is expelled from the body through the vagina.
Throughout the cycle, your body prepares itself for its reproductive function in case you get pregnant. Your reproductive system especially your uterus changes at different stages in your menstrual cycle.
The ovaries produce an egg and release it into the uterus. The uterus’ lining in response to egg production thickens to support pregnancy.
In case of no pregnancy, the lining of the uterus starts to shed and blood and tissue lining leave your body in the form of periods. In the case of conception, the uterus retains its thick walls to support the fetus throughout pregnancy.
Physical changes and certain hormonal changes also occur during the menstrual cycle that affects your mood i.e. estrogen and progesterone levels drop. Your periods may last somewhere between 3 to 7 days.
After menstruation, the same cycle lengths repeat themselves until the next period.
A typical menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days. It is important to know that this is an average or an estimation of the cycle and can differ from person to person. It can also differ in different months throughout the year.
You can also get periods 24 days or 35 days into your menstrual cycle which are quite normal.
In case your cycle gets extremely irregular i.e. when you see irregularity in the timing of your periods like if you experience periods before 21 days into your cycle or after 38 days of your cycle then these are what you call irregular periods, also called oligomenorrhea.
There can be any number of reasons for this irregularity and they all might not all be bad for your body. It is important to track your periods and also symptoms that show up throughout the cycle in order to understand your situation better.
The main symptom is irregularity based on time in your menstrual cycle. Some other associated symptoms are:
- Changes in blood flow—heavier or lighter flow than normal
- Periods that last longer than 7 days
- Clotting that appears irregular or bigger than normal
- Missing three or more periods in a row
- Cramps, pain, and nausea
- Spotting between periods
Since irregular menstrual cycle means they can happen outside of normal time in the cycle, you should be prepared to deal with them. Keep yourself prepared with extra pads or tampons and panties so that you are not caught by surprise.
There are many reasons why you can have an irregular menstrual cycle. Some are mentioned below:
Extreme fluctuations in weight like gain or obesity and loss of weight can cause irregularity in periods.
Stress is a prominent factor in causing irregularity. You might have heard women saying that in the stress of exams, I got my periods early. The stress messes up with your biological clock.
Hormonal imbalance can affect the proper working of your body. These hormones also bring forth certain important stages in your growth like puberty, menopause, pregnancy, etc. This can cause irregular periods.
In the early years of puberty and a few years before menopause, you can experience an irregular menstrual cycle. These can be because of hormonal changes that mark the start/end of a certain stage of life. It can take a few years for your body to adjust to changes in hormone levels and reach a balance, hence causing irregular periods.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, women stop having periods.
Hormonal contraceptives can also cause an irregular menstrual cycle. Contraceptive pills can cause bleeding or spotting in between periods and the intrauterine system may also cause heavy bleeding. These contraceptives or birth control pills essentially affect your hormonal levels that can cause irregularity in your periods.
An eating disorder like anorexia and bulimia, which are also quite related to weight gain and loss as well as stress, causes irregular periods.
Some structural problems in your uterus or other parts of your reproductive systems that also affect the reproductive ability of your body can also cause an irregular menstrual cycle. There are surgeries that can attempt to correct these problems if you want to bear children.
Undergoing extreme exercise like marathon running can also cause irregular periods.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, PCOS is a condition that affects the normal working of your ovaries by developing fluid-filled sacs (cysts) in your ovaries. The women with this condition are not regular in ovulating and hence they have irregular periods.
These women also have certain other irregularities like hormonal imbalance, obesity, acne, etc. which can also contribute to irregular periods. An overactive thyroid hormone can also cause irregularity in periods.
If you develop a condition with polyps in the uterine lining, it can affect your menstrual cycle and periods.
Uterine fibroids can cause lumps inside the uterus affecting your menstrual cycle. It can cause heavy periods, cramps, and painful sex as well. Consult your gynecologist or talk to your doctor to get treatment in time.
You can adopt certain tips for a healthy lifestyle that can help you regulate your periods and also regulate symptoms and pains experienced during periods. Remedies can also be specifically helpful if you know about the reason for the irregular menstrual cycle.
- Yoga can help you maintain a healthy body and mind which can influence your menstrual cycle. It can also help you regulate your emotional stress and reduce pain and cramps during periods.
- Adopting a routine with exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle will also help. Make sure not to overwork yourself as it can have an adverse effect on your periods.
- By regulating your diet, you can maintain a healthy weight. Weight fluctuations are one of the reasons for irregular periods and can be helped with weight maintenance. Skipping carbohydrates and adding enough fats to your food can help. You can either use the Keto diet or PCOS diet management.
- Using vitamins especially B and D can help regulate periods. Vitamin D is found to be helpful with PCOS.
- It is also recommended to use ginger and cinnamon as they considered a remedy for treating problems with the menstrual cycle.
- Due to the health benefits of pineapple and papaya, they are considered important in solving problems of the menstrual cycle.
All irregular menstrual cycles are not bad for you but you should keep track of your periods in case it causes problems in your reproductive system. You should also see your doctor from time to time to make sure everything is well.
If you have certain conditions that are affecting your cycle as well as your reproductive system, you can talk to your doctor and get treatment for it. In the case of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome PCOS, you can get treatment to restore the balance of hormones inside your body.
You can get effective treatment for hyperthyroidism to restore hormonal balance.
If irregularity in your periods is due to contraceptive or birth control pills, you should talk to your gynecologist and find out the best option, suited for your body.
Your doctor can recommend Hormone therapy to regulate hormone levels in your body.
Managing your stress, bodily activity, and healthy lifestyle can certainly help you improve your menstrual cycles.
It is important that you see a therapist if you are under stress, have an eating disorder or if your eating habits stem from stress-eating. Your therapist will help improve your lifestyle which will also help with your periods.
You can visit our clinic for expert opinion by our Gynecologists.
Irregular Periods Do Not Always Mean Any Serious Problems…
It is important that you understand that irregular periods are not always because of health problems. They are not dangerous in most cases and you can live with them if they are not causing you problems.
If they do point towards certain health problems, make sure to see your doctor soon and get treatment. Also, consider seeing a therapist if you are dealing with a lot of stress.