Every woman is unique and different – including their thinking, actions, emotions and even periods. Most of them start their menstrual cycle by about 15 years of age. They ovulate, and thus the menstrual cycle happens. But all cycles are not the same. Few have their periods regularly every 28 days, whereas others have an erratic cycle which cannot be predicted.
A normal menstrual cycle is about 28 days. It is said to be an irregular cycle if the period lasts for more than 8 days or occurs more frequently than once in 3 weeks.
To check if the periods are normal or not, count from the last day of your previous cycle to the first day of your next. Track it for three months. If all the three months have significantly different number of days, then the periods are irregular.
Causes of irregular periods:
Ovulation is the reason why women have a menstrual cycle. Irregular periods could be related to the fact that a woman has not ovulated during her menstrual cycle. The main causes for irregularity of a menstrual cycle are:
- Extreme exercise: Extreme exercise can sometimes throw the menstrual cycle off track. In some cases, women do not get their periods at all.
- Dieting: Any extreme change in diet can affect your periods. Underweight people generally have this issue.
- Stress: Stress or anxiety if extreme can cause irregular periods because it causes hormonal imbalance.
- Medication: Birth control pills also sometimes cause missed periods.
- Cysts in ovaries in women can cause irregular ovulation and thereby cause irregular periods.
- Age: When young girls begin their menstrual cycle, the periods are irregular in the initial stage even without any other ailment. It settles down into a regular routine with most girls within a year.
- If thyroid hormones fluctuate too much, they cause irregular periods.
- Women nearing menopause have irregular periods.
If you notice that your periods are irregular, it is better to check with a doctor who will test for thyroid or any other health issue. There could be hormonal imbalance which the doctor may need to correct. There may be some concern on ovulation, which may need medical attention. If there is no adverse medical issue, then the doctor may just ask you to wait and watch. The periods may regularise with time.
Pregnancy and irregular periods:
Irregular ovulation causes irregular periods. If you are not ovulating every month or if the ovulation is irregular, it is difficult to calculate the fertile period for you. Usually women who are trying to get pregnant calculate the dates of ovulation and have intercourse during those days, so that the chance of getting pregnant are maximum. But in case of women whose periods are irregular, this is difficult. Usually for such women, doctors prescribe fertility drugs which will increase ovulation thus increasing chances of pregnancy.
Other ways to regularise periods is
- Stress management in case stress is the cause of irregular cycles.
- Exercise within limits
- Healthy diet and eating nutritious food
Prolonged menstrual bleeding:
A long menstrual cycle is a nuisance to most women. The discomfort is very irritating. But in a few other women, it could be a matter of concern as it could indicate a medical problem. During a normal menstrual cycle, the progesterone level falls and causes bleeding. Usually bleeding lasts for about 4 or 5 days. When the bleeding lasts for 7 or more days, it is a case of prolonged bleeding. Prolonged menstrual bleeding is known as menorrhagia. In this there is heavy blood loss also. There are many reasons why the menstrual bleeding in prolonged:
- Fibroids in the uterus
- Ovulation issues
- Thyroid problem
- Ovarian cysts
- Recent childbirth
- Blood doesn’t clot properly
- A thick endometrium
There are medical treatments for the problem depending on what is the reason for the prolonged bleeding. It will also depend on family history and other factors.
Irregular periods can be treated at home with natural food items. Let us discuss some of these:
- Ginger relieves pain during a menstrual cycle and also helps regularise periods.
- Cinnamon regulates periods
- Aloe vera helps correct hormone imbalance thereby regulating menstrual cycles.
- Sesame seeds and jaggery help hormonal balance and regularise periods
- Turmeric is helpful in regulating menstrual cycles
- Papaya and pineapple are also useful in case of irregular cycles.
- Fennel and coriander seeds also help regulate scanty periods
Regularising irregular menstrual cycle is important for women trying to get pregnant. If there is no other medical issue, time will regularise the cycles.