Irregular periods occur when someone's menstrual cycle is shorter than 24 days or longer than 38 days, or the duration of the cycle varies frequently. It is common for teenage girls.
Types of Irregular Periods
There are four different types.
This is one of the most common types of irregular periods. In this condition, you will experience prolonged and heavy bleeding. In some cases, the bleeding may also disrupt your day-to-day activities. Menorrhagia can be further classified into polymenorrhea (when bleeding occurs too frequently), postmenopausal (when you have menstrual periods after menopause), and metrorrhagia (when you experience bleeding between periods).
This condition denotes severe pain or frequent cramps during the period. It can be described as primary or secondary, depending on the cause. Primary dysmenorrhea occurs due to hormonal imbalance, while secondary dysmenorrhea may occur due to underlying medical conditions.
This is the opposite of menorrhagia. In this condition, you will experience light periods, and the bleeding often lasts less than two days or it is less than 80ml.
When your period is absent for more than 90 days, it is known as amenorrhea. There are two types of this condition
Primary amenorrhea occurs in teenage girls when menstruation fails to start at puberty.
Secondary amenorrhea occurs when the normal menstrual cycle becomes increasingly irregular or absent for a prolonged period.
Irregular Periods Symptoms
If you exhibit the below-mentioned symptoms, then you might have an irregular menstrual cycle issue:
Menstrual cycle changes too often
Period after every 21 days or after every 35 days
Period lasts more than one week
Much pain during periods
Haven't had a period for 90 days
Loose more or less blood over a period than usual
Bleeding in between your periods or after sex
Irregular Menstruation Causes
Various factors can be responsible for irregular menstruation, such as:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): It is a hormonal disorder that affects the ovaries and results in irregular periods, which is caused by an imbalance of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.
Thyroid disorders: The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle. An imbalance of thyroid hormones can cause it.
Stress: Stress can disrupt the hormonal balance in the body, leading to irregular menstruation. Stress can also cause changes in weight, which can also affect the menstrual cycle.
Weight changes: Rapid weight gain or weight loss may disrupt the hormonal balance in the body, thus causing changes in the menstrual cycle.
Medications: Certain medicines, such as birth control pills, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, can disrupt the menstrual cycle, leading to irregular periods.
Hormonal imbalances: An imbalance of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone can cause irregular menstruation. It is caused by various factors, including menopause, pregnancy, and certain medical conditions.
Uterine fibroids: These are noncancerous growths in the uterus that can cause heavy or irregular periods.
Endometriosis: In this condition, the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of it, causing heavy or irregular periods.
Perimenopause: It is the period of time leading up to menopause, during which hormonal changes can cause irregular periods.
Lifestyle factors: Factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking can disrupt the hormonal balance in the body, leading to irregular periods.
Pelvic inflammatory disease: It is a bacterial infection of the reproductive organs that can cause inflammation and scarring, leading to irregular periods.
Primary ovarian insufficiency: This condition occurs when the ovaries stop functioning properly before the age of 40, leading to hormonal imbalances.
Hyperthyroidism: This is a condition where the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, leading to menstrual irregularities and other symptoms.
Hypothyroidism: It is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to menstrual irregularities and other symptoms.
Uterine cancer: This is a type of cancer that develops in the uterus and can cause irregular periods, among other symptoms.
Ovarian cancer: This is a type of cancer that develops in the ovaries and can cause hormonal imbalances and irregular periods.
Miscarriage: It is the loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week and can cause hormonal imbalances and irregular periods.
Ectopic pregnancy: It occurs when the fertilised egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. This can cause hormonal imbalances and irregular periods.
Irregular Periods Diagnosis
Your doctor might first perform a pelvic exam and ask about your medical history and menstrual cycle. The doctor may also order specific tests, including.
Blood test to rule out the possibility of anaemia or other medical conditions
PAP test to check for any infections
Endometrial biopsy to evaluate problems with your uterus
Sonohysterogram to take photos of the uterine cavity
Pelvic ultrasound to create images of the uterus, ovaries, and pelvis
Irregular Periods Treatment
Some common treatment modalities used are as follows-
If the irregularity is due to an underlying medical condition, medication may be necessary. Some medications that can be used are as follows:
Birth control pills: These medications contain synthetic versions of estrogen and progesterone, which help regulate the menstrual cycle.
Progestin-only pills: Progestin-only pills, also known as mini-pills, contain only progestin and can help regulate the menstrual cycle.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists: These medications suppress estrogen and progesterone production, leading to a temporary halt in the menstrual cycle. They are typically used for short-term treatment of conditions such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
Ovarian drilling: A laparoscopic surgery that creates small holes in the ovaries to stimulate ovulation and regulate menstrual cycles.
Myomectomy: Surgical removal of uterine fibroids, which can cause heavy or irregular periods.
Other Treatment Options
Herbal remedies: Certain herbs, such as ginger, turmeric, and maca root, have been shown to regulate menstrual cycles and reduce the frequency and severity of irregular periods.
Lifestyle changes: Maintaining a healthy diet, exercise routine, and stress management can help regulate menstrual cycles and reduce the frequency and severity of irregular periods.
Consult with your doctor to plan the best course of treatment, as the treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause.
Irregular Periods Complications
Infertility: Frequent cycle changes can make it difficult for a woman to conceive, as ovulation may not occur at regular intervals.
Hormonal imbalances: irregularity in the menstrual cycle can indicate an underlying hormonal imbalance, like PCOS.
Endometriosis: Disturbed cycle can be a symptom of endometriosis in which tissue similar to the uterus lining grows outside the uterus.
Uterine fibroids: Irregular periods can be a symptom of uterine fibroids, which are benign growths in the uterus.
Pelvic pain: Irregular periods can cause pelvic pain and discomfort, especially during menstruation.
Anaemia: Irregular periods can lead to anaemia, a condition in which the body lacks enough haemoglobin or red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body's tissues.
Emotional distress: Irregular periods can cause emotional distress, including anxiety and depression.
Missed menstrual periods: Irregular periods can cause missed menstrual periods, which can be a sign of pregnancy or other health issues.
Vaginal bleeding: Irregular periods can cause vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods, which can be a sign of a serious condition such as cancer.
Overall health: Irregular periods can indicate an overall health problem that needs to be addressed. It is essential to consult a doctor to determine the cause of irregular periods and to receive appropriate treatment.
Outlook After Irregular Periods Treatment
The long-term outlook is generally good. One can control it with proper medications and lifestyle changes.
Second Opinion for Delayed Periods Treatment
If you are looking for a hospital to get treatment, connect with the best gynaecologist at Max Hospital. Get a second opinion for irregular menstruation treatment at Max.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much delay in periods is normal?
A menstrual cycle can vary from 21 to 35 days, and a delay of a few days is common and not usually a cause for concern.
When are irregular periods more common?
Irregular periods are more common during puberty and menopause, when hormonal changes can cause fluctuations in the menstrual cycle. Additionally, factors such as stress, weight changes, excessive exercise, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disorders, and other medical conditions can also lead to this.
How can I lower my risk of having an irregular period naturally?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, stress management, and adequate sleep can help regulate your menstrual cycle. Additionally, it's important to maintain a healthy weight, as being underweight or overweight can disrupt your menstrual cycle.
Do irregular periods mean infertility, and can a woman get pregnant?
Irregular periods do not necessarily mean infertility, but they can make it harder to get pregnant. If you have irregular periods, it may be more difficult to predict when you are ovulating, making it harder to time intercourse for conception. However, with medical intervention and proper treatment, most women with irregular periods can conceive and have a healthy pregnancy.
Reviewed & Updated On
Reviewed by Dr. Kanika Gupta, Senior Director – Surgical Oncology (Gynae & Robotic Surgery), Cancer Care / Oncology, Gynecologic Oncology, Surgical Oncology, Robotic Surgery on 02-May-2023.