Irregular periods can be annoying and inconvenient, but mostly, they can be treated with simple lifestyle modifications and medications. It is not usually a concern if a couple of irregular periods occur in a year but any more than that may have an ovulation problem or a health condition as the cause. If a woman who is not on contraceptives and not in the perimenopausal stage or undergoing menopause has irregular periods, it is best to get an early medical opinion. Irregular periods should be addressed to the best gynaecologist for PCOS in Chennai as menstrual disorders can be a signal of an underlying condition of hormonal imbalance such as the more common PCOS.
How to know if periods are irregular
A menstrual cycle is a time between the start of one period and the next. The average menstrual cycle is for 28 days, although a bit shorter or longer than this is considered normal. Women generally develop a regular cycle with more or less similar length of time between periods after puberty, though it is common for the periods to vary few days each time. Irregular periods are periods that come either early or late, in other words, when the length of the menstrual cycle is the gap between starting periods keeps changing.
Irregular periods happen at unusual intervals or unpredictable intervals or a combination of both. With irregular periods, while the actual period appears normal and the amount of bleeding and the number of bleeding days is similar to a typical period, the interval between two periods varies abnormally as more than 35 days or fewer than 21 days apart. To track whether the period schedule is irregular, keep a count from the last day of the previous period and stop counting on the first day of the next period. This should be repeated for three consecutive months. If the number of days between stopping and starting of the period is outside of the 21 to 35 days range, it indicates irregular periods. Research has suggested a variation of 0.3 to 9 days to be normal. In line with this, the best doctor for PCOS in Chennai may consider a woman to have irregular periods if the length of her cycle varies by a minimum of 7 to 10 days.
Causes of irregular periods
There are many factors that can affect the length and timing of the menstrual cycle. Irregular Periods need not be caused only by an underlying condition but can also be caused by issues with no disorder or abnormality. Variables that are not related to any disorder but may cause irregular periods to include:
* Perimenopause is the stage of transition of a woman entering into menopause. This can last to a maximum of 10 years when as a part of the transition process, menstrual cycles can become erratic. If more than two periods are skipped, it may mean a late perimenopausal stage. It has been estimated that menstrual irregularities are experienced by 70 % of women nearing menopause.
* Stress in the form of chronic or short-term anxiety about a specific problem or in general lifestyle can alter hormone balance to a great extent causing irregular periods.
* Extreme Exercise that is way too much or sudden can interfere with the timing of menstrual bleeding or even stop it.
* Eating habits such as extreme dieting, fasting, or illness such as nausea and anorexia can have the same effects leading to irregular or missed periods.
* Weight loss when leads to being underweight, whether from extreme exercise, dieting, eating patterns, or illness, can also cause irregular periods.
* Age does not only affect growing old as in perimenopause and menopause but being young also has a major effect in creating period irregularities. It can take several years before menstruation follows a pattern after puberty.
* Birth control measures such as pills, implants, IUDs, and rings can also cause irregular periods.
* Breastfeeding a newborn can cause missed periods up to 6 months.
* Miscarriage or abortion can take a couple of months before regular periods resume.
Irregular periods can signal medical conditions of which some are treatable whereas others can be significant issues. Some of the medical variables that cause irregular periods are:
* Hormone imbalances can cause a person to ovulate infrequently with irregular periods or no ovulation at all. PCOS is one of the major hormone disorders that causes irregular periods. Other conditions include thyroid malfunctions, chronic diabetes, and medications.
* Pelvic inflammatory disease is an inflammation of the female reproductive system that is usually caused by sexually transmitted infections with symptoms of irregular periods.
* Endometriosis is a disorder wherein uterine tissues grow beyond the uterus causing pain and irregular bleeding. A woman with endometriosis may bleed between periods, have very heavy periods, pass blood clots, all leading to irregular periods.
* Premature ovarian insufficiency causes the woman to have irregular periods as the ovaries stop producing eggs earlier than usual, mostly between 20 or 30 years of age.
* Other issues include ovarian cysts, medications, and endometrial or ovarian cancer.
Irregular periods and pregnancy
Irregular periods can be worrying especially for women trying to get pregnant as conceiving a baby may become more difficult. Pregnancy with irregular periods mainly depends on ovulation. There may be bleeding without ovulation but it is a real period only with ovulation. A woman may or may not ovulate with irregular cycles. An ovulating woman with irregular cycles can get pregnant. If the woman is not ovulating, the chances of getting pregnant may not be easy. If so, it can help to have sex every 2 or 3 days throughout the cycle. Timing sex around ovulation may not be helpful in achieving pregnancy. However, any irregularities in periods should be discussed with the best gynecologist for PCOS in Chennai to know the cause, arrive at a diagnosis, and avail the right treatment. Once other medical conditions are ruled out, treatment with medication to restore regular periods and stimulate ovulation may be prescribed.