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Monthly periods are not the most exciting thing that happens to women, and no one really looks forward to it. However, they are an important part of your overall reproductive health. It is helpful if your menstrual cycle is regular and you know your dates so that you can plan dates and special occasions around that. Unfortunately, this may not hold true for all women as many have to deal with irregular periods or menstrual cycle. Let us find out more about irregular periods and how to deal with it.
What Are Irregular Periods?
Irregular periods are usually a sign of hormonal imbalance. A perfect menstruation cycle is 28 days long. So, anyone who gets their period on the 29th day has a healthy menstrual cycle. But if you get your periods in 21 days or before and if your periods last for more than 8 days, then you have an irregular menstrual cycle. Also, if you get late periods or miss your periods, then too you have an irregular menstrual cycle.
What Causes Irregular Periods
There are a lot of factors that contribute to irregular periods in women. These factors or causes are often related to an unhealthy lifestyle.
1. High Levels of Stress
Stress during periods can prevent ovulation. The production of oestrogen and other reproductive hormones also gets disrupted due to high-stress levels. As a result, your uterine lining doesn’t get built the way it should and you don’t get your period on time.
2. Poor Diet
A diet which is low in antioxidants can disturb the normal functioning of various hormones in a woman’s body. This can, in turn, be responsible for an irregular menstrual cycle.
For example, food high on stimulants like additives and pesticides can disturb the normal functioning of the adrenal glands and this can cause a rise in cortisol. High cortisol tends to hinder the normal functioning of many hormones including reproductive hormones.
3. A Stressful Work-Out Regime
It has been observed that stress or exertion caused due to over-exercising hinders the normal functioning of the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary glands causing the periods to become irregular.
Research has proved that women suffering from thyroid issues often miss their periods or struggle with irregular periods.
5. Birth Control Pill
Birth control pills have a direct effect on periods. It makes the periods lighter and in many cases, stops periods altogether.
6. Polycystic Ovarian syndrome
This is a medical condition in which very small cysts appear in the ovary. Women suffering from this condition experience irregular periods.
7. Extreme Weight Loss
If your body BMI falls below 18 or 19, you may experience irregular periods due to low body fat. The body fat helps in creating oestrogen, a hormone that’s essential for the normal functioning of the ovary.
8. Sudden Weight Gain
A dramatic increase in weight in a short period too can affect the normal functioning of the body hormones. This includes sex hormones. This can be one of the causes of irregular periods.
9. Food Allergies
Allergy to certain foods, such as undiagnosed gluten or celiac disease, can impact the body hormones. This also affects the normal functioning of the sex hormones which in turn can cause an irregular menstrual cycle.
10. Other Medical Conditions
A woman suffering from medical conditions like diabetes, fibroids, endometriosis, and sexually transmitted diseases is most likely to experience irregular periods.
It has been observed that when a girl first gets her periods, it takes some time to become normal. It is only with age that the menstrual cycle becomes regular in women. A teen needn’t be worried about irregular periods as it is a common phenomenon during one’s adolescent years.
Irregular Periods- What’s Normal and What’s Not
Erratic periods once or twice a year is a fairly normal phenomenon. But if it is a regular affair, then it needs to be taken seriously as it could be a symptom of other diseases. It not only spoils your social life but also causes a lot of complications during your everyday routine such as work.
- Do irregular periods affect pregnancy? Well, the answer is, yes, it does! Irregular periods mean that you are not ovulating every month. This can have a direct impact on your pregnancy. If you are trying to get pregnant for a while but are unable to do so, then you must consult your doctor as your erratic monthly cycle may just be playing a spoilsport.
- Irregular periods could also be a symptom of serious diseases like endometriosis, PCOS or thyroid. Hence, it is advisable to consult a doctor and get evaluated if you have been suffering from irregular menstrual cycles for long.
- Inconsistent periods may not necessarily be a symptom of ovarian cancer. However, if your physician deems it necessary then he/she may get you evaluated for the same.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is also associated with inconsistent periods. Consult your doctor about the same and do get a test done to confirm it or rule it out.
Treatment and Home Remedies
There are numerous home remedies for irregular periods that can help to improve the condition, such as:
- If stress is the cause for your erratic monthly cycle, then you can practise yoga and meditation for a stress-free life. Acupuncture has also proved to be beneficial for women suffering from widely separated monthly cycles.
- Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for an overall healthy life. Adding healthy fats and probiotics to your everyday diet is a must for the normal functioning of the hormones.
- While exercising, listen to your body and stop when you must. Exercise to reduce stress and not just burn calories.
- If the cause for your irregular or erratic periods is hormonal, then you must consult your doctor who may put you on some contraceptive pills or medication to fix the problem.
Irregular periods treatment at home is the first thing you must try before opting for medicines. One must always consult a physician for any oral medication.
When to Consult a Doctor
The following signs warrant a visit to the doctor:
- If you experience persistent volatile or unpredictable periods
- After trying out all the suggested treatments and remedies, you’ve seen no improvement
- If you are trying to get pregnant but irregular periods get in the way
- You’re suffering from prolonged cramps due to irregular periods
There was a time when talking about one’s periods was considered taboo. However, today’s society is open-minded and is more accepting of talking about these issues openly. Women must not shy away from talking about periods and the problems associated with it. Remember, only talking and consulting can help you to get the right solution to your problem!