Not all women experience their periods within the predicted 28 day cycle. Sometimes it is early and sometimes it can be late, sometimes it goes for longer than seven days and sometimes it may not happen at all.
What are irregular periods, why do they occur and what how can they be treated? Let’s take a look.
Irregular periods are quite common for women in their childbearing years, and while they shouldn’t be a cause of any great concern, they may be a sign of a bigger issue and it is recommended that you see your gynaecologist.
When Is a Period Irregular?
A normal menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, give or take seven days. A period is considered irregular if:
• It last longer than eight days
• It is missed three or more times in a row
• Menstrual flow is abnormally heavy (menorrhagia) or light
• Bleeding occurs after sex or in between periods
• Periods are especially painful
What Are Irregular Periods Called?
• Amenorrhea is when woman’s periods have stopped completely.
• Oligomenorrhea refers to periods that are infrequent.
• Dysmenorrhea refers to periods that are abnormally painful.
Reasons For Irregular Periods
There are a number of reasons that you may be experiencing irregular periods. Some are lifestyle-related, others are due to a hormone imbalance or a medical condition, or pregnancy.
• Excessive exercise
• Weight issues
• Long-term illness
• Drug use, excessive drinking, medication or poor nutrition
Polycystic ovary syndrome: Women with polycystic ovary syndrome experience an abnormal production of hormones which can prevent eggs from maturing, and cause ovulation to become inconsistent.
Fibroids: Fibroids – also known as myomas or leiomyomas – are benign tumors that can appear on the uterus during a woman’s childbearing years. However, they can cause heavy bleeding and painful periods.
Endometriosis: Endometriosis is condition where cells like those occupying the innermost layer of the uterus – the endometrium – grow outside of it, causing painful adhesions on the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and bowel. It can cause painful periods and abnormal bleeding.
Pelvic inflammatory disease: Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the upper part of the female reproductive system namely the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and the inside of the pelvis. It can cause irregular periods.
Other Medical or Gynaecological Problems: Such as issues with the ovaries or, thyroid disorders, liver or cervical cancer, diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome.
Treating Irregular Periods
The treatment of irregular periods will depend on the underlying issue. It is important to seek help from your gynaecologist in order to investigate and determine what is causing them, and what the best approach is for treatment.
Treatment for irregular periods may include changing the type of contraception you are using, counselling or stress management, balancing your exercise and diet, and treating any medical conditions that may be disrupting your menstrual cycle.
Irregular periods are one of the first indicators that you are approaching menopause. Most women will start to experience irregular periods anywhere between three and ten years before their periods stop completely.
This is due to hormone imbalances and fluctuations as menopause draws closer, usually in women aged 45 t0 55. It is very common to experience irregular periods during this time. In fact, only 10% of women reach menopause without any irregular periods. If you have any questions regarding menopause, be sure to check in with your gynaecologist.
If you have any questions regarding gynecological problems such as irregular periods, or would like to book an appointment an obstetrician and gynaecologist in the Hills District, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We will strive to offer advice and compassionate care in every way possible.