Women having a regular menstrual cycle have an average of about 11 to 13 menstrual periods each year. Many women have known to experience skipped, short or irregular periods in certain phases of their lives. Reasons for skipped or irregular menstrual periods can be plenty. However, usually, irregularity is during the first few years after the beginning of menstruation. A menstrual period can also be irregular when the woman is during the last years of menstruation or reaching menopause.
What are Irregular Periods?
A normal and average menstrual cycle is about every 28 days of a calendar month. The menstrual cycle is considered irregular if bleeding occurs more frequently than 21 days or bleeding lasts for more than 9 days. Irregular periods are also characterized by absent, missed or skipped periods.
To understand if periods are irregular count from the last day of your previous month period till the first day of your next period. Take an average of 3 months. If the number of days differs between stopping and starting of your periods significantly, then you are said to have an irregular menstrual cycle.
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Causes of Irregular Menstrual Cycle
If you are suffering from irregular menstrual cycles, have you ever wondered what causes irregular periods? The causes of irregular periods can be plenty and vary based on several factors such as lifestyle, body and age. Medical conditions and lifestyle can be a major influence factor on your menstrual cycle.
The following factors can be some of the causes of irregular periods.
Pregnancy is the most common reason for a missed or irregular period. If you are pregnant the egg will be fertilized and implantation will occur in the uterine wall. Hence the endometrium will form a protective layer of covering around the embryo and will not shed as in every menstrual bleeding. Hence it leads to a missed period.
2. Extreme Diet and Exercise
Extreme diet and exercise can lead to an irregular menstrual cycle. Too much of exercise and diet can put the body under pressure and abruptly stop menstrual cycle or cause irregularities. Athletes commonly suffer from irregular periods or sometimes missed periods. Dieting too much, being underweight, having an eating disorder can also cause irregular or missed periods.
3. Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are one more common cause of abnormal periods. Birth control pills or contraceptives interfere with the ovulation and normal process of menstruation to prevent fertilization from happening. However, it leads to an adverse side effect causing skipped or irregular menstruation.
4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or Disorder
Women diagnosed with PCOS are commonly known to have irregular periods. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome disorder is a condition that forms tiny cysts in the ovaries. These cysts interfere with the regular ovulation. PCOS can cause infertility, heart diseases and diabetes in addition to irregular menstrual cycle.
The thyroid is an important gland that plays an important role in the proper functioning of the body. It is important that a proper balance of T3, T4 and TSH is maintained in the body. An abnormal imbalance of TSH is the body reduces the levels of TSH in the body leading to missed menstrual cycles or misbalance in the menstrual periods.
Anxiety, depression and chronic stress can play a negative impact on the hormonal balance in your body. Destruction in hormonal balance can cause missed, skipped, absent or irregular periods.
You can get here some important tips to tackle stress and 10 super foods that reduce stress!
7. Excessive Weight Gain or Loss
Low body weight and obesity can be a very common cause of abnormal periods.
8. Breast Feeding and Lactation
Due to pregnancy, there is a stop of a menstrual cycle for 9 months. Post birth the hormone prolactin is released during breastfeeding. Prolactin inhibits the menstrual cycle causing irregular periods. Many women resume their normal periods only after they stop breastfeeding.
When teens begin their menstrual cycle, their periods are not very regular and may not happen every 28 days. It takes a few years to settle into a normal pattern. Additionally, women who are attaining menopause also experience irregular menstrual cycle and their period’s frequency gradually decreases.
10. Medical Illnesses
Hormonal imbalances, pelvic organ disorders, ahserman’s syndrome, thyroid malfunction, and imperforate hymen can be some of the causes of irregular periods.
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Prevention and Treatment for Irregular Periods
There is no pre-defined home remedy or treatment for missed or irregular periods however it can be controlled to a certain extent.
Some of the simple tips you can follow to prevent and treat irregular menstrual cycle are-
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
Being obese or underweight can be a major underlying cause for irregular or missed periods. Hence it is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet to maintain adequate weight and nutrition within the body.
2. Avoid Stress
If stress and anxiety is a culprit to abnormal periods, practice meditation and relaxation techniques to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
3. Avoid Over Exercising
Avoid over-exercising as this can cause physical damage and endurance to your body. Athletes are advised to cut down on their rigorous training.
4. Avoid Contraceptives
Contraceptives or birth control pills can have adverse effects on your menstrual cycle. Avoid taking these pills and switch to herbal and natural remedies instead.
5. Treat Underlying Medical Conditions
If you are suffering from medical conditions such as PCOS, Asherman’s syndrome, pelvic disorders, eating disorders, and hormonal imbalances ensure that you get these medical conditions treated right away. Treatment of these medical conditions can treat irregular menstrual cycle.
Symptoms Not to Be Ignored
Sometimes irregular periods settle down and get back to an orderly menstrual cycle by some simple lifestyle changes. However, when in certain conditions it is advisable to take medical help. Contact your gynecologist or general practitioner if you experience the following symptoms.
- If you show a positive pregnancy test with a home pregnancy test kit
- Lower belly or pelvic pain
- Missed 2 periods consequently
- Missed 3 periods in spite of taking birth control pills and you are not pregnant
- You have not had the first period by 16 years
- Not developed pubic hair or breast by 15 years
A couple of missed periods in a year should not be a concern and there is nothing to worry about. However, if you experience the above-mentioned symptoms then you must consult your doctor right away. If you have been wondering why is my period late, then you have all the answers to your question. Simple lifestyle changes and food habits can treat small reasons that cause irregular periods. A regular menstrual cycle is a sign of good health for every woman.