Irregular Periods: Causes, Treatment, Complications and Prevention

  • Overview
  • Facts on Irregular Periods
  • Causes of Irregular Periods
  • Symptoms of Irregular Periods
  • Diagnosis of Irregular Periods
  • Treatment of Irregular Periods
  • Surgery for Irregular Periods 
  • Complications of Irregular Periods
  • Prevention of Irregular Periods 

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Overview

Normally, a period occurs every 24 to 38 days and it usually lasts for 2 to 8 days. When a normal period doesn’t occur on time or becomes unpredictable, it is said that you are suffering from irregular periods. A period is said to be irregular if-

  • There is any change in the number of days a period usually lasts for

  •  The number of days between two periods increases/decreases

  • The bleeding is lighter or heavier than normal circumstances 

Facts on Irregular Periods

  • Research study shows that the chances of irregular periods are higher among teen girls, belonging to the age group of 14-18, who are exposed to air pollution regularly.

  • When irregular periods are left untreated, it leads to other health issues like infertility, PCOS, etc. 

Causes of Irregular Periods

The main reason behind irregular periods is the imbalance in the levels of estrogen and progesterone produced by the body.  Hormonal imbalance could be due to certain health conditions that contribute to irregular periods-

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

The most common health condition that contributes to irregular periods is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This is a hormonal disorder in which the female body produces higher levels of male hormones than the normal level. Women with PCOS often face difficulty in conceiving. 

  • Pregnancy

One of the major indicators of pregnancy is missing a period. Some women often report the discharge of pink, red, or dark brown blood, also known as spotting, during their pregnancy. 

  • Hormonal birth control

Women who use hormonal birth control pills or intrauterine devices can suffer from irregular bleeding.

  • Issues with the thyroid
Although the reason is unknown, changes in the thyroid level impact the menstrual cycle. Hypothyroidism can cause heavier periods whereas hyperthyroidism causes shorter and lighter periods.
  • Fibroids in the uterus

Any abnormal growth in the uterus, uterine wall or on its surface can cause heavy periods as well as bleeding between two consecutive periods. These growths are benign in nature.

  • Endometriosis

Another cause for heavier bleeding than normal during periods is endometriosis. In this condition, the tissues that are supposed to line the uterus grows outside the uterus. Women suffering from endometriosis also complain about prolonged periods and bleeding between periods.

  • Medications

Consuming certain medications which are mentioned below can increase the risk of irregular periods. 

  1. Blood-thinning medicines

  2. Hormone replacement therapy 

  3. Medicines for thyroid problems

  4. Antidepressants

  5. Epilepsy drugs

  6. Drugs for cancer

  7. Painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen

  • Breastfeeding

When you are producing breast milk, the hormone prolactin prevents ovulation and thus leads to irregular periods. 

  • Lifestyle conditions that contribute to irregular periods-

  1. Being obese or overweight

  2. Irregular eating patterns that lead to a loss in weight

  3. Excessive exercise

  4. Stress

  5. Use of drugs

Symptoms of Irregular Periods

Under normal conditions, a menstrual cycle can last up to 28 days. Depending on the physiology of each individual, it can range from 24-35 days. 

When menstruation starts in teenage, it almost takes up to 2 years to regulate the menstrual cycle. But for some women, the cycle doesn’t start functioning regularly which leads to variation in the time between periods as well as the amount of blood loss. This is known as irregular periods. 

Diagnosis of Irregular Periods

For diagnosis of irregular periods, the doctor asks the patient about her menstrual cycle and medical history. The doctor then performs a physical examination which entails a pelvic exam and a pap test. The doctor may also recommend the following tests:

  • To rule out anemia or other medical disorders, doctors recommend blood tests.

  • To check the presence of any infections, doctors perform vaginal cultures.

  • To look out for uterine fibroids, polyps or an ovarian cyst, a pelvic ultrasound exam can also be performed.

  • To confirm the presence of any cancerous cells, doctors also perform an endometrial biopsy. In this procedure, the doctor takes a sample of tissue with the help of a laparoscope to diagnose endometriosis, hormonal imbalance, or non-benign cells.

Treatment of Irregular Periods

Ayurvedic Treatment for Irregular Periods

Herbal remedies for abnormal uterine bleeding

  • For Vata vitiation- Shatavari, Ashwagandha, Dashmoolarishta, Castor oil and consuming ghee regularly.

  • For Pitta vitiation- Sariva, Manjishta, Aloe Vera eases the blood flow.

  • For Kapha vitiation- Ginger, Cinnamon, Cardamom and Pepper removes the blockages and heaviness.

Some other herbs that help to cure irregular menstruation-

  • Ashoka 

  • Chandan

  • Lodhra

  • Hibiscus

  • Hing

  • Licorice 

Homeopathic Treatment for Irregular Periods

To get relief from irregular periods, doctors often prescribe the following medicines-

  • For delayed periods, doctors recommend Pulsatilla.

  • For maintaining hormonal balance, Sepia is recommended.

  • For delayed periods, doctors prescribe Natrum Mur.

  • To get relief from short, delayed periods, take Conium.

  • To cure late and profuse menses, Silicea can help.

  • When periods get delayed by several months, take Kali Carb. 

Allopathic Treatment for Irregular Periods

According to Allopathy, doctors recommend the following medicines-

  • Metformin- An insulin-lowering drug that is taken orally by type 2 diabetes patients to ensure normal ovulation and regular periods.

  • Low-dose birth control pill- Birth control pills work by decreasing androgen production with a combination of estrogen and progesterone. 

Surgery for Irregular Periods 

In most cases, an irregular period is cured by treating the underlying cause such as endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, etc. The surgical treatment for curing these conditions is a hysterectomy. In this procedure, the gynecologist removes the uterus. After analyzing the condition, the doctor may decide to remove the whole or only part of the uterus. There are three types of hysterectomy that doctor performs-

  • Subtotal hysterectomy- In this process, the doctor takes out only a small portion of the uterus leaving the cervix intact.

  • Total hysterectomy- As the name suggests, this procedure removes the whole uterus including the cervix.

  • Hysterectomy and Oophorectomy- In this surgery, the gynecologist removes the uterus as well as one/both the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes. 

Depending on the procedure of hysterectomy, this can be further categorized into-

  • Abdominal hysterectomy- In this hysterectomy,  the doctor makes a large incision in the abdomen and removes the uterus through the incision. 

  • Vaginal hysterectomy- In this hysterectomy, the doctor takes out the uterus through a small cut made in the vagina. 

  • Laparoscopic hysterectomy- In this procedure, three or four small incisions are made first. After this with the help of a camera-mounted device known as a laparoscope, the doctor takes out the uterus. 

Complications of Irregular Periods

Heavy bleeding can decrease the iron level in the woman’s body, thereby causing anemia. Women suffering from anemia often complain about acute fatigue and weakness. In severe cases, they also report the following symptoms-

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Faster heart rate

Heavy bleeding is another factor for dysmenorrhea, which is described as the pain that occurs during menstruation. 

Prevention of Irregular Periods 

The treatment of irregular periods depends on the underlying cause or condition. Fortunately, there are some holistic remedies that women can follow to get the menstrual cycle back on track. Some of them are discussed below-

Practicing Yoga

If you are suffering from irregular periods, practicing yoga on a regular basis can help. Yoga not only reduces menstrual pain but it also helps to cope up with symptoms such as depression and anxiety. This is considered beneficial as yoga regulates hormones as well as menstruation cycles.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Overweight or obese women are more prone to suffering from irregular periods, especially heavier bleeding and pain. The fat cells negatively impact the hormones responsible for ovulation, hence balancing a healthy weight becomes vital for women suffering from irregular periods. Women can exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight.

Increasing the amount of ginger intake

Although there is no scientific evidence that explains how ginger works for irregular periods, many women have experienced instant relief from menstrual pain after consuming ginger juice

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