Every woman experiences an irregular menstrual cycle from time to time. Whether it is affected by stress, medications, puberty, genetics, or her daily lifestyle, several abnormal periods can cause alarm. Understanding the environmental factors that affect the menstrual cycle can help a woman take control of her body and know how to prepare for the irregular cycles.
What Is an Irregular Menstrual Cycle?
The menstrual cycle is a natural process the female body experiences each month to prepare for childbirth. The menstrual cycle is typically described as the first day of a period to the day before the next period begins. Beginning at puberty, a regular cycle typically lasts 28 days on average, although it can vary between 21 and 35 days each month. This is because illness, stress, and other environmental factors can all cause temporary variations in the cycle.
Irregular menstruation is experienced when the length of the cycle is shorter than 21 days or extends past 35 days on average. This alteration may result in missed periods, shorter or longer cycles, or changes in the length and intensity of bleeding.
Common Causes of Irregular Menstrual Cycles
Menstrual cycle irregularities can either be naturally occurring or due to environmental aspects. Some of the most common causes of irregular periods include:
The menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. The natural changes the body experiences during puberty can see most females have irregular periods for the first few years before levels balance to a point where periods become regular. Adults with too much or too little of these hormones may experience irregular periods due to hormone imbalances.
All women know and understand how stress can directly affect the symptoms that accompany the menstrual cycle. Other lifestyle factors can also impede or increase blood flow and discomfort levels such as excessive exercise, dieting to lose or gain weight, and binging on alcohol.
Abnormal periods can also develop from use of certain medications to treat a variety of health conditions. Steroids, blood thinners, hormone supplements, and contraceptive injections can all affect the stages of a menstrual cycle.
Reproductive System Abnormalities
Any abnormality within the reproductive system such as poor hormone production, infections, ovarian cysts, tumours, blockages in the fallopian tubes or ovaries, and an abnormal vaginal opening or labia can affect the menstrual cycle.
Perimenopause and Menopause
There is a major time in a woman’s life that menstrual cycle abnormalities are evident as her body begins the natural change towards menopause. As a woman enters the perimenopause time, irregular periods begin to be present.
Other Underlying Health Issues
Menstrual irregularities can be caused by a wealth of underlying health conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and thyroid dysfunction.
Potential Health Risks of Irregular Periods
Experiencing irregular periods over time can lead to health conditions that may or may not be fully treated by medical intervention. Infertility conditions, specifically Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), can cause irregular periods.
Increased Risk of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a serious condition wherein the endometrial tissue develops outside of the uterus. This causes abnormal bleeding and severe pain along with irregular periods.
Our bones depend on a healthy supply and production of red blood cells to maintain growth and strength. Irregular periods can lead to a decreased bone density, which can result in osteoporosis in late life.
Menstrual Pain and Discomfort
Irregular periods can increase the intensity and length of time a woman experiences pain and discomfort. The physical effects of menstrual cramps can cause a disruption in the daily activities for many women.
Emotional and Psychological Impact
Whether a woman is trying to conceive or not, irregular periods can weigh heavy on her mind leading to anxiety, emotional stress, mood swings, and lack of self-esteem. The emotional and psychological impact can be as detrimental to a woman’s health as physical symptoms.
This iron-deficient condition is often seen with heavy or irregular menstrual cycles with excessive blood loss. Without the proper amount of healthy red blood cells, the body can experience serious conditions with low oxygen.
Impact on Reproductive and Overall Health
Irregular periods that are left untreated can have an adverse effect on a woman’s reproductive system and overall health. Underlying causes may result in a lack of much-needed estrogen and the inability to properly initiate the release of the egg, leading to infertility issues.
Should You Consult with a Gynecologist if You Have Irregular Menstrual Cycles?
It is important to understand when to seek advice and treatment from a gynecologist in Brampton. As every woman experiences different menstrual cycles, there are several significant indicators that may require a gynecologist appointment.
- Consistent irregular cycles
- Severe pain/discomfort during menstruation
- Excessive bleeding
- Experiencing large clots
- Constant nausea/vomiting during period
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Unexplained weight gain
- Extreme fatigue
- Periods lasting more than seven days
- Difficulties conceiving
- Irregular ovulation
- Symptoms of PCOS/thyroid disorders/TSS
- Need for information on menstrual health
Take Charge of Your Menstrual Health: Consult with a Gynecologist Today
Feel welcomed, accepted, and appreciated at Heart Lake Health Centre when looking for a gynecologist near you. Our team of family doctors and our gynecologist offer specialized services to diagnose and treat an array of health conditions. Contact us today at (905) 846-9255 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.