There is nothing as worrying for ladies as waiting for Lady Flo for a whole month and then she fails to show up. More often than not, the first thing that we do  is rush to the nearest pharmacy to get a pregnancy test kit. However, pregnancy is not the only reason for a missed period-sometimes you may be having an irregular period.

What is considered an irregular period?

An irregular period refers to a menstrual cycle that does not fall within the normal range of 21-35 days, between one period to the next. Periods can also be considered irregular if they are suddenly too light or too heavy, or if you are having your periods for longer or shorter periods than usual.

If you just started having your periods, you may notice one or more signs of irregular period. That should not worry you as your cycle takes about two years to settle into a predictable cycle. With that being said, here are several other reasons why your period may be irregular.

PCOS

Are you aware that your ovaries produce testosterone which is a male hormone? Nature has made it so that the hormone is produced in low amounts and is converted to female sex hormones. In some instances, however, the ovaries produce excess male hormones leading to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, simply known as PCOS.

Perimenopause

The period when a woman is transitioning to menopause can affect her menstrual cycle. Over 70% of women approaching menopause have experienced menstrual irregularities.

RELATED: 4 Foods to eat on your periods

Too much exercise

Being active and keeping fit is all good. However, exercising too much can affect your menstrual cycle.

Birth control

Certain birth control methods like Intrauterine Devices can cause menstrual bleeding even earlier than when you expect your periods.

Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition on Unsplash

Stress and anxiety

Too much anxiety or stress can cause hormonal imbalance which can either delay your period or cause it to come earlier than expected.

Breastfeeding

If you are breastfeeding, your menstrual cycle takes some time before getting back to normal and could be a reason for irregular periods.

Uterine fibroids

Fibroids are growths that grow inside the uterine and can cause bleeding between cycles

Endometriosis

This is a condition that occurs when uterine tissue grows in areas other than the uterus. Endometriosis is often accompanied by intense pain during and after menstruation, irregular periods, heavy bleeding and painful intercourse.

Hyper/hypothyroidism

Your thyroid glands produce certain chemicals that are essential for weight regulation, internal temperature and energy levels among other important functions. If your thyroid glands are producing excess or inadequate hormones, your menstrual cycle can be affected. Problems with the thyroid glands have been associated with light or heavy flow or irregular periods.

When to see a doctor

Generally, an irregular period should not worry you too much. However, if you have the following symptoms then it’s time to see the doctor’

  • If your period lasts longer than 7 days which is the threshold for normal menstrual flow
  • If you are bleeding in between your cycle
  • If you experience excess pain, vomiting or cramping during your period
  • If you notice that your period is suddenly heavier or lighter than usual

Treatment

Treatment options for irregular periods include hormone treatments. However, a diagnosis has to be made, and prescriptions given by a qualified gynaecologist.

Featured Image: Unsplash

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