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Periods usually start during a girl’s puberty and continue until menopause (forty to forty-five year of age). Periods is basically shedding off of the endometrium. The general length of the menstrual cycle for any woman is twenty-eight days. However, very few women get their periods right on time.
The length of the menstrual cycle varies between individuals, and it is usually considered to be irregular menstruation if the cycle length stretches to thirty-five days and more. Also, if the duration of your menstrual cycle keeps varying intermittently it can be considered as a sign of irregular periods.
An irregular period is also known as oligomenorrhea and can be caused due to change in method of contraception, some hormonal imbalance and also hormonal changes during the time of menopause and menarche. Accordingly to studies, around ten per cent of women suffer from irregular periods during their childbearing years.
To determine whether the periods are irregular, start counting from the last day of the period cycle and stop counting on the first day of the next cycle. This way you will be able to determine the gap between two cycles. While in most cases it can be quite normal, there are times when it is a matter of concern and you must visit a doctor.
Causes of irregular periods
In most cases, irregular periods are related to a condition called anovulation. This means ovulation has failed to take place during the menstrual cycle may be due to extreme hormonal imbalance. There are several causes of irregular periods:
Contraceptive pills: taking birth control pills indiscriminately can affect your menstrual cycle and cause you to miss your cycle or make it too frequent.
Stress: the hectic lifestyle of women nowadays causes chronic stress and anxiety, leading to a severe hormonal imbalance that in turn affects your menstrual cycle.
Extreme dieting and exercising: Too much exercise can also play with your menstrual cycle and stop your bleeding completely. Being underweight due to crash dieting can also cause irregular periods. It is common among endurance athletes to miss their periods.
PCOS: one of the pressing problems of women nowadays is PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome affects almost 10% of women during the childbearing years. PCOS causes small cysts to form on the ovaries affecting ovulation adversely and causing irregular periods. It also increases testosterone levels, creating an imbalance of the female sex hormone which can be a cause of primary infertility. PCOS also causes tremendous weight gain leading to obesity that increases the risk of heart attack.
An irregular cycle can make it very difficult for a woman to get pregnant, especially if ovulation is not happening every month. A gynaecologist near you can run certain tests to see if you are ovulating. Experiencing irregular periods can hamper pregnancy plans, then a gynaecologist can prescribe fertility drugs that can help increase the ovulation.
Treatment of irregular periods
The treatment of irregular periods depends on the cause:
If stress is the reason behind irregular periods, then it is always a good idea to visit a counsellor and get some counselling done. This can help you cope with stress and anxiety. You can also try some stress management techniques like meditation, yoga and biofeedback that can also help reduce stress.
Often doctors prescribe oral contraceptives to get your periods on the track. However, in some cases, natural remedies like black cohosh, which is a medicinal herb that is sometimes used for menstrual irregularities can help.
PCOS is intrinsically connected to obesity. Hence losing your weight can stabilize your menstrual cycle. Lower weight means the body will have to generate less insulin that will, in turn, lower the rate of the testosterone secretion. Weight gain is also caused by thyroid and hence treating your thyroid problem too is a solution for irregular periods.
Remember that irregular periods can cause infertility and many other complications. Hence it is always advisable to visit a doctor when in doubt.
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