Menstruation plays a crucial role in determining the reproductive health of a woman. A healthy woman gets her period every 27-28 days. This is calculated from the first day of the last period to the starting day of the next period. For some women, their period might come a few days earlier or later. If this pattern is followed consistently every month, there is no need to worry. However, if there is an undue delay in your period every month, it could be a sign of irregular menstrual periods.
What is Irregular Menstrual Periods?
An irregular menstrual period occurs when the length of one menstruation cycle exceeds 35 days. It is also known as oligomenorrhoea.
An irregular menstrual period may not be a big concern during the early stages of puberty or around menopause, but if it happens during the reproductive years of a woman, medical attention may be required. The cause of the irregularity should be figured out so that proper treatment can be given without delay.
What Are the Causes of Irregular Menstrual Periods?
An irregular menstrual period occurs mainly because of a hormonal imbalance. There are some factors that trigger this imbalance.
If you have had unprotected sex during your ovulation period, pregnancy could be the cause of irregular periods. You could take a pregnancy test at home to confirm the pregnancy. Usually, pregnancy will be accompanied by symptoms like tiredness, morning sickness, and nausea.
If you suspect that you are pregnant, see a doctor without delay. In particular, experiencing a stabbing pain in the pelvic area during pregnancy requires immediate medical attention.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent the sperm from fertilising the egg, thus preventing pregnancy. IUD could cause irregular periods, but this side effect usually resolves within the first few months. If the problem persists, you should consult a doctor.
Birth control pills
Birth control pills work by changing the hormonal makeup of the body and prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. Most pills contain a combination of oestrogen and progesterone, while some only have only progesterone. Some women experience irregular periods after starting or stopping birth control pills.
Thus, if you are planning to get pregnant, you should stop taking the birth control pills well in advance to make your periods regular.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Women diagnosed with PCOS have a high level of androgen (male hormone) in their bodies. This hormone can disrupt the normal ovulation and the resulting menstruation cycle. Thus, if you notice irregular periods, PCOS could be one of the causes and you should consider getting checked for the condition.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) can cause irregular periods.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. The decrease in thyroid hormones sets off a cascade of hormonal changes. These changes can result in irregular periods.
In the case of hyperthyroidism, excessive thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid glands. This increased production increases the sex hormone levels in the body, thus affecting ovulation. In the absence of ovulation, menstruation does not occur regularly.
Fibroids are muscle tissues that grow on the walls of the uterus. The oestrogen and progesterone in your body play a vital role in the formation of fibroids. When fibroids grow in the uterus, it can distort the lining of the uterus, ultimately resulting in irregular periods.
How to Treat Irregular Menstrual Periods?
The first step towards treating irregular periods is to find the root cause of the irregularity. Once it is found, treating it becomes easier. Here are a few ways you can treat irregular periods:
If your irregular period is caused by medical conditions like PCOS, thyroid disorders, or uterine fibroids, making lifestyle changes is the first move. This includes consuming a healthy and balanced diet and maintaining an ideal weight. Try to be as active as possible by undertaking regular exercise. If you have the habit of drinking or smoking, it would be best to quit as well.
If you are overweight, you can approach a dietitian who can plan a healthy and balanced diet for you.
Changing birth control measures.
If irregular periods are caused by taking birth control pills, you could try to stop or change the pill you’re taking. On the other hand, if IUDs are the cause, you could have it removed and switch over to birth control pills.
Generally, hormone imbalances are caused by a lack of certain hormones or an abundance of another. In such situations, taking the right hormone medication helps to make the periods regular. The doctor will either prescribe birth control pills or other hormone medication to treat the imbalance.
An irregular period is not a matter of concern. By finding the underlying reasons, you can get the right treatment and avoid disruptions to everyday life. A well-balanced diet and active life will also help improve your health in general and avoid unnecessary illnesses.