A period is the part of the menstrual cycle in which the female has vaginal bleeding. During periods or menstruation, the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) is shed, which causes bleeding that is released through the vagina.
Periods usually begin during puberty, between the ages of 10 and 16 years, and continue until a female reaches menopause, which comes around 45- to 55-years old.
Irregular periods, medically termed as oligomenorrhea, can occur due to various reasons including hormonal or other changes. Hormone imbalance or changes in the body, contraception method, strenuous exercises, or certain medical conditions can cause irregular periods.
The normal length of a female’s menstrual cycle is 28 days. But, the length of the menstrual cycle varies between females. Periods are called irregular when the length of a menstrual cycle is more than 35 days, or if the duration of each menstrual cycle varies.
A menstrual cycle is typically called abnormal in the following cases-
- If periods occur less than 21 days apart (known as polymenorrhagia)
- If periods occur more than 35 days apart (known as oligomenorrhea)
- Missing 3 or more menstrual cycles in a row
- period blood flow is much heavier or lighter than the usual
- Periods last longer than 7 days
- Excessive cramping, pain, nausea or vomiting during periods (known as dysmenorrhea)
Types of Irregular periods
Across the age spectrum, irregular periods fall into 4 major categories:
- Amenorrhea or absence of menstruation
- Frequent bleeding
- Bleeding between cycles
- Excessively heavy periods
What can cause irregular cycles?
Irregular periods are often caused by hormonal imbalance or an underlying health condition. There are various possible reasons a female may experience irregular period cycles. It is always a good idea to talk with an expert gynecologist if that happens. The most few common causes of irregular periods include-
- Excessive exercise
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Eating disorders
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Uterine fibroids
- Use of Birth control pills, the intrauterine device, IUD, etc
- Hypo- or hyperthyroidism
- Depression or stress
When should you see a gynecologist about abnormal bleeding?
A female should see a gynecologist if she does not have a regular monthly period cycle, abnormally heavy or light periods, bleeding between period cycles or frequent spotting or abnormal bleeding.
If a female is experiencing heavy or frequent periods, she loses a lot of blood. Due to this, she may suffer from other problems such as weakness, anemia, feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
A female should visit her gynecologist right away if she experiences bleeding after menopause, or bleeding during pregnancy as they can be a cause of concern and may require immediate medical attention.
At times, scarring or structural problems in the uterus or fallopian tubes can cause irregular periods. In such cases, the gynecologist may recommend surgery to correct the structural problems or birth defects.
To summarise, a female should visit her gynecologist for abnormal or irregular periods if she experiences-
- Heavy bleeding that requires more than one tampon or pad in an hour
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Bleeding after having sex
- Severe abdominal, pelvic pain or cramps
- Unexplained high fever
- Abnormal vaginal discharge which may also have a foul smell
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- Unusual hair growth
- Nipple discharge
A female should see a gynecologist right away if she is experiencing irregular periods or other menstrual problems. Consult the best gynecologist and get relief from the painful and troubling condition of irregular periods. Talk to our gynecologists for doubts, concerns, and treatment for irregular periods.