Irregular periods is 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 from your gynecologist. 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, lets first look at menstruation and menstrual cycle. This cycle follows a pattern and any irregularity in it can cause irregular periods.
What is Menstruation and Menstrual cycle?
Your periods are an indication of where you are in your menstrual cycle. It is a cycle because women’s go through the same routine every month at the start of which you have your period. The first day of your period marks day one of your menstrual cycle. Period or menstruation is the time of bleeding where tissue lining of uterus is expelled from the body through 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 egg and release it in the uterus. The uterus’ lining in response to egg production thickens to support pregnancy.
In case of no pregnancy, the lining of uterus starts to shed and blood and tissue lining leave your body in the form of periods. In case of conception, the uterus retains its thick walls to support foetus throughout pregnancy.
In addition to physical changes, certain hormonal changes also occur during menstrual cycle that affect your mood i.e. estrogen and progesterone levels drop. Your periods may last somewhere between 3 to 7 days. After menstruation, the same cycle repeats itself until next periods.
A typical menstrual cycle last 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 appear irregular or bigger than normal
- Missing three or more periods in a row
- Cramps, pain and nausea
- Spotting between periods
Since irregular periods mean they can happen outside of normal time in the cycle, you should be prepared to deal with it. 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 irregular periods. Some are mentioned below:
- Extreme fluctuations in weight like gain 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 stress of exams, I got my periods early. The stress messes up with your biological clock.
- Hormonal imbalance can affect 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 early years of puberty and a few years before menopause, you can experience irregular periods. 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 breast-feeding, women stop having periods.
- Hormonal contraceptives can also cause irregular periods. Contraceptive pills can cause bleeding or spotting in between periods and intrauterine system may also cause heavy bleeding. These contraceptives essentially affect your hormonal levels that can cause irregularity in your periods.
- Eating disorder like anorexia and bulimia, which are also quite related to weight gain and loss as well as stress, cause 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 irregular periods. 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 Ovarian 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.
- Overactive thyroid 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 uterus affecting your menstrual cycle. It can cause heavy periods, cramps and painful sex as well.
You can adopt certain tips for 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 irregular periods.
- Yoga can help you maintain 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 routine with exercise to maintain healthy lifestyle will also help. Make sure not to overwork yourself as it can have adverse effect on your periods.
- By regulating your diet, you can maintain healthy weight. Weight fluctuations is one of the reasons of irregular periods and can be helped with weight maintenance. Skipping carbohydrates and adding enough fats to your food can help.
- Using vitamins specially 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 problem with menstrual cycle.
- Due to health benefits of pineapple and papaya, they are considered important in solving problems of menstrual cycle.
All irregular periods 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 ito make sure everything is well.
If you have certain conditions that are affecting your cycle as well as your reproductive system, you can see your doctor and get it treated. In case of polycystic ovarian syndrome, you can get treated to restore balance of hormones inside your body.
Same goes for hyperthyroidism that can be treated to restore hormonal balance.
If irregularity in your periods is being caused by contraceptive pills, you should talk to your gynecologist and find out the best option, suited for your body. Hormone therapy can be recommended by your doctor 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 stressed, 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.
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 treated. Also, consider seeing a therapist if you are dealing with a lot of stress.