By Medicover Hospitals / 03 Mar 2021
The average menstrual cycle period for a woman is 28 days, but it varies from person to person. Irregular menstruation occurs when the period cycle is longer than 35 days or when the duration varies.
Menstruation is the phase of the menstrual cycle that sheds the endometrium, which is the uterine lining. This manifests as uterine bleeding that emits through the vagina.
Periods usually begin during puberty, between the ages of 10 and 16, and continue until menopause, when the woman is between 45 and 55 years old.
- What Are Irregular Periods?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home Remedies
What Are Irregular Periods?
Irregular periods, also called oligomenorrhea, can occur if there is a change in birth control, a hormonal imbalance, hormonal changes around the time of menopause, and resistance exercises. You may have irregular periods if:
- The time between each period changes.
- You lose more or less blood over a period than usual
- The number of days your period lasts varies a lot
Because of a variety of causes, irregular intervals may be due, including:
Some anti-inflammatory drugs, blood thinners, or hormonal drugs can affect menstrual bleeding.
A side effect of intrauterine devices (IUDs) used for birth control can be heavy bleeding.
The hormones estrogen and progesterone regulate the build-up of the lining of the uterus. An accumulation of these hormones may cause heavy bleeding.
Hormonal imbalances are more common among girls who started menstruating in the past year and a half. They are also common in women nearing menopause.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID):
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can cause irregular periods and other infections.
- Another condition that may cause irregular intervals is endometriosis. This is a condition in which the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows in other parts of the body.
Benign growths or cancers:
- Cervical, ovarian, or uterine cancer can cause heavy bleeding, but these conditions are not common. Benign or non-cancerous tumors in the uterus can cause heavy bleeding or prolonged periods.
- Benign growths on the lining of the uterus (endometrium) can also cause a heavy or prolonged menstrual period. Such growth is known as polyps, where endometrial tissue is composed of growth. They are known as fibroids when the growth comprises muscle tissue.
- Lack of ovulation or anovulation results in a lack of the hormone progesterone, leading to heavy periods.
- When the glands of the uterine lining become embedded in the uterine muscle, heavy bleeding can occur. This condition is known as adenomyosis.
- Contact your doctor if you bleed during pregnancy. Normal pregnancy interrupts menstruation. Some spots during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, are often not a cause for concern.
If you have abnormal menstrual periods, your doctor will probably start with a pelvic exam. They will ask for your medical history. You should list all the medications and supplements you are taking.
Depending on your specific symptoms, diagnostic tests may include:
- PAP test: This test looks for various infections or cancer cells on the cervix.
- Blood test: Blood tests will detect anemia, blood clotting problems, and thyroid function.
- Pelvic ultrasound: Pelvic ultrasound will create images of your uterus, ovaries, and pelvis.
- Endometrial biopsy: If your doctor wants to evaluate potential problems with your uterus, he or she may order an endometrial biopsy. During this procedure, a sample of uterine tissue was taken so that it can be analyzed. They can also use a diagnostic hysteroscopy to view the inside of your uterus. Your doctor will use an enhanced tube to examine the uterus and remove the polyp for a hysteroscopy.
- Sonohysterogram: A sonohysterogram is an ultrasound that involves injecting fluid into the uterus to help get a picture of the uterine cavity. Then your doctor can look for polyps or fibroids.
- Pregnancy test: Your doctor may order a pregnancy test.
Treatment will depend on:
Treatments may include the following.
- your overall health
- the reason for your menstrual abnormalities
- your reproductive history and plans
- Your doctor will also need to treat any underlying medical conditions, such as thyroid dysfunction.
Drug treatments that your doctor may suggest include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can minimize mild blood loss.
- Iron supplements can treat anemia.
- Hormone replacement injections can treat hormonal imbalances.
- Oral contraceptives can regulate your cycle and shorten your periods.
- You can work with your doctor to find alternatives if your irregularities are because of medications that you are already taking.
- Dilation and curettage, also known as D&C, is a procedure in which your doctor dilates the cervix and scrapes the tissue from the lining of the uterus. This is a fairly common procedure and reduces menstrual bleeding.
- Surgery is the most common treatment for cancerous tumors. It is also an option for treating fibroids, but it is not always necessary. Polyps removal can be done by hysteroscopy.
- Endometrial ablation is a procedure used in women who have had no success with medications used to control heavy bleeding and related symptoms. This procedure involves your doctor destroying the lining of the uterus, leaving little or no menstrual flow.
- Endometrial resection removes the lining of the uterus. This procedure significantly reduces your chances of a future pregnancy. If you are planning to have children, discuss and consider other treatment options.
- The surgical elimination of the penis and cervix is a hysterectomy. Your doctor can also remove your ovaries. This results in premature menopause.
- When you have tumors or fibroids, this technique could prefer therapy. It can also treat endometriosis that has not responded to other less invasive treatment methods.
- Having a hysterectomy removes your ability to have children.
When to visit a Doctor?
If you have any of the following signs, call your physician:
Seek medical attention immediately if you have difficulty swallowing or breathing.
- Missing three or more periods a year.
- You have your period more often than every 21 days.
- You have your period less often than every 35 days.
- You bleed more than normal during your period.
- Bleeds for over 7 days.
- You have more pain than usual for a period.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of some causes of irregular menstruation. This includes:
Some herbal remedies, such as black cohosh, chaste berry, licorice root, and turmeric are said to help, but research has not confirmed their effectiveness and they may have adverse effects.
- exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress
- eat a healthy diet
Frequently Asked Questions:
Women begin perimenopause at different ages. Sometime in your 40's, you may find symptoms of development towards menopause, such as menstrual irregularity.
Having an irregular cycle, including missing periods, can contribute to infertility, as it means that a woman may not ovulate regularly.
Sometimes irregular periods can be caused by some medications, exercising too much, having a very low or high body weight, or not eating enough calories. Hormonal imbalances can also cause irregular cycles.
IEEE - https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/1634516
Science Direct - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1744187006000515
Journals - https://journals.aps.org/pra/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevA.31.420