Irregular Periods - What's normal and when to see the doctor
What causes irregular periods?
There are multiple reasons why menstrual cycles get irregular – and these are largely result of a hormonal imbalance. These either lead to the absence of ovulation completely, or having wildly unpredictable time periods for ovulation every month. These are again results of the choices we make every day, genetic health concerns or a chronic condition that needs to be treated or taken medication for.
Some of the common reasons for irregular periods are listed as follows:
1) PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
It is a hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. The hormonal imbalance can cause problems with periods and make it difficult to get pregnant.
Symptoms for PCOS Menstrual disturbances, Hirsutism, acne and alopecia, Recurrent miscarriage, Obesity and diabetes etc. The diagnosis of this is primarily done by abdominal ultrasound.
Treatment for this is done through medication after consultation with your doctor, exercising, electrolysis, etc.
2) Hormonal Changes
Changes in levels on any of the hormones - progesterone, estrogen, hormone responsible for ovulation ( LH hormone), cause irregular periods. If the irregularity is consistent, it requires professional medical help.
Thyroid hormones are responsible for the regulation of the metabolism. Any changes in the level of thyroid hormones might cause irregularities which can be brought into attention by changes like weight gain, less libido, painful menstrual cramps etc. It can be easily treated by taking thyroid tablets, where the dosage is determined by a professional.
Some of the other reasons include extreme exercising, having an eating disorder, stress, anxiety, birth control pills, STD’s, Diabetes etc. Period-ers might also experience irregular cycles at the time of puberty, and even at later stages during menopause.
How you can keep track and when to see the doctor
There are apps which can help you keep track on your cycle. Although it varies from person to person and cycle to cycle, you'll get an idea in a couple of months which might come in handy whether or not you want to get pregnant.
If you have consistently irregular periods, you should consider going to the doctor for an evaluation. Women who are trying to conceive, should especially visit a doctor since irregular ovulation reduces the chances of fertilisation.
Alternative Methods of Treatment
There are various other methods and techniques used to treat irregular periods. Oral Contraceptives, Meditation, Stress Busters/Management, eating adequately, exercising within limits are some widely plausible effective aids. Before self-diagnosis or getting on a regular prescription of a medicine, you should consult their doctor and take only those which will suit you exact condition.
If irregular periods aren’t something you experience usually, then missed periods for several weeks might also be a sign of pregnancy, for which a test at home can be done to be sure – and if confusion still stays, professional help might come handy.
While irregular menstrual cycles might worry you initially, proper medication or diagnosis can help you treat it with ease. It is important to notice other changes like weight gain and loss, emotional turmoil, physical distress etc and work on these alongside. Proper care and guidance can help you navigate your concern and find efficient solutions for it.
General Advice for a Healthier Period
Remember to keep exercising regularly despite the frequency of your cycles. Different uterine exercises can make your lower abdomen stronger. Vaginal health should be a priority - wear clean underwear, wash using a mildly acidic soap and be careful while using public restrooms. More about this in the forthcoming posts. Stay healthy!