The menstrual cycle is not often as reliable as clockwork. Once or twice a year, your period might arrive a little late or a little early. But if the length of your menstrual cycle keeps fluctuating, then you have a case of irregular periods. What are the causes of irregular periods? And can they be treated? Read on to know the answers.
What exactly is an irregular period?
Generally, the length of a menstrual cycle from one period to the next is 28 days. But this number is not etched in stone. You might get your periods every 27 days and 27 is your menstrual cycle length. For someone else, it is 30 days and so on. That is why the normal length of a menstrual cycle can be anything between 24 to 34 days. And sometimes your period might start a day or two earlier or later. But if it has been more than 35 days since your last period, and if this happens frequently, then your periods are officially irregular.
How can you tell if you have irregular periods?
Normally, you should have 11-13 periods every year. Any fewer and it could be because you have irregular periods.
It is during puberty that periods start. In many women, it takes 1-2 years for a steady routine of periods to establish itself after which menstruation is expected to start on time. So if you are past your puberty and yet your periods are unpredictable, you can call it irregular periods.
It’s not just the delay in time that signifies irregular periods. Your body ejecting differing volumes of blood during periods is also a sign of menstrual irregularity.
If your blood clots are larger than 2.5 centimetres in diameter even if blood discharge is the same volume during all your periods, it could indicate irregular periods.
What are the causes of irregular periods?
The causes of irregular periods are varied and what triggers the irregularity in one woman may not be the same for another woman. Here are some of the common causes of irregular periods-
This is usually the culprit behind delayed periods. The level of estrogen and progesterone- the two female hormones, does not always stay stable. During puberty and menopause, there is a hormonal tumult in the body and that is why irregular periods are common during these two phases. But changes in hormonal equilibrium can also be triggered by-
- Unhealthy diet
- Inactive lifestyle
- Certain illnesses
- A rapid change in weight
- Breastfeeding (periods do not usually happen when a woman lactates)
- Use of contraceptives
- Extreme exercising
Other health complications
Underlying health conditions too are among the chief causes of irregular periods-
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS causes cysts to develop in the ovaries which put a stop to ovulation. If eggs are not released, then periods do not happen.
- Disorders of thyroid invariable trigger irregular periods.
- Endometriosis is a complication that happens when the wall called endometrium (supposed to be on the inside of the uterus) grows on the outside. Shedding of the wall causes periods. But if the wall is on the outside, it cannot be shed and period cannot start.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease is a sexually transmitted disease that has the potential to wreck the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Treatment of irregular periods
If health conditions are causing irregular periods, then the medication that addresses the disease will also take care of irregular periods.
Stress can be taken care of through medication and breathing techniques. Obesity and weight gain can easily be reversed through dedicated exercise and a strict diet.
If birth control is responsible for irregular periods, then your doctor will recommend alternatives.
Home remedies for irregular periods
There are a few home remedies you can try out to regularize your periods-
- Consume ginger every day
- Try cinnamon tea
- Load up on vitamin-rich foods
- Drink apple cider vinegar
Irregular periods not only cause a world of worry but could also be telling you that there is something amiss about your body. So do not ignore the signs and get expert help.