Regular periods are a sign of good reproductive health. Periods happen once between 21 and 35 days. Periods are said to be irregular if they repeatedly come sooner than 21 days or later than 35 days; and/ or the volume of bleeding fluctuates massively; and/ or the period lasts for more or fewer days than usual; and/ or periods get missed altogether.
Getting them to regular programming is essential to restore menstrual health and to treat any underlying conditions causing periods to be irregular. Here are a few causes that might cause irregular and missed periods:
A sexually active person who failed to use any kind of contraception (or who used it but it failed) might be pregnant if their period has been missed. A pregnancy test can clarify whether the delayed or missed period is due to pregnancy.
Being stressed has an impact on every aspect of health, including menstrual health. Stress may delay ovulation and consequently, menstruation. It may also cause a person to bleed more heavily or lightly than usual. If you have been under too much stress, identify ways in which you can reduce it. Reducing workload, exercising, healthier eating and counselling may help reduce stress depending on what’s causing it.
Oral contraception/ birth control pills/ contraceptive pills interfere with periods and sometimes, stop them altogether. Even after discontinuing their use, it may take a few months for periods to return to normal. This normal may differ from person to person. Talk to your gynaecologist to understand if your periods aren’t running to regular levels even after the prescribed period.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
A polycystic ovary hinders the release of an egg that precedes the monthly menstrual cycle. If there’s no timely ovulation, there can’t be timely menstruation. In such a person with polycystic ovaries, periods are disrupted and become irregular or may even be missed. If you are diagnosed with PCOS, talk to your gynecologist about its treatment. There is no cure for the disease, but there are various medications that can dampen or eliminate the symptoms of the disease. Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight can also help. Depending on your condition, your doctor can also advise if surgery is an option.
Uterine fibroids are benign or non-cancerous lumps that grow on the uterus. Irregular periods, usually in the form of extremely heavy flow and cramping, are one of the symptoms of presence of uterine fibroids. Doctors can advise you on various medications that can help in treating symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure. Various surgical and non surgical options are also available.
Sudden weight loss
Burning a lot of calories through intense exercise and/ or consuming far fewer calories than usual may disrupt production of hormones required for ovulation. Such weight loss might be a by-product of mandatory strenuous physical activity for a person engaged in such physically demanding jobs or sports or athletics.
Weight loss may also be caused by an eating disorder. The effect of disrupting ovulation from disturbing the hormones required for ovulation is periods getting affected – they get missed or turn irregular. If your eating patterns have been irregular, try to bring them to a healthier routine. You could also consult a dietician for it.
Just as the body is tuning in at the start of reproductive life around teenage years and periods are irregular and unpredictable, they’re similarly so at the end of reproductive life or menopause. Around the time of menopause, the levels of oestrogen in the body start decreasing and ovulation becomes less frequent. Consequently, periods become less frequent. Periods may become other forms of irregular – long spans of heavy bleeding, or occasional spotting. Periods cease completely after menopause.
All the above reasons for irregular and missed periods are only for reference. It is advisable to consult a doctor when up to three irregular periods have been experienced while pregnancy has been ruled out.
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