IRREGULAR PERIODS : What your body is trying to tell you
Most women experience abnormal uterine bleeding at some period in their life time. The commonly asked questions are : Why am I getting my period twice in a month? Why is the bleeding heavy? Why am I experiencing pain? This article attempts to answer these questions.
The length of a menstrual cycle and amount of blood flow is unique to each woman. However, most women have a cycle that ranges from 21 to 40 days. The bleeding lasts for 4-5 days with a blood loss of about 70mls.
An irregular period is usually defined as, any bleeding of a cycle length shorter than 21 days or longer than 40 days. It includes heavy bleeding with clots or scanty bleeding. There are many causes of abnormal periods, ranging from everyday stress to more serious underlying medical conditions. In many cases, irregular periods are related to a condition called anovulation. This means that ovulation hasn’t taken place during the menstrual cycle, usually due to severe hormonal imbalances.
Anovulation is often a part of a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome. This condition is often associated with infertility but in most cases can be addressed successfully depending on what the main concern of the person is.
Factors that can trigger irregular or missed periods are – extreme exercise or dieting, stress, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), uterine polyps or fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis and premature ovary failure.
70% of PCOS patients have thyroid dysfunction and abnormal prolactin levels. In some c-uses, the high prolactin levels are due to prolactinoma — a noncancerous tumor of the pituitary gland in the brain.
A woman should consult a gynaecologist under the following circumstances:
- If she experiences severe pain during her periods or between periods.
- Has heavy bleeding.
- Has an abnormal or offensive vaginal discharge.
- The period that lasts longer than 7 days.
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods.
- Periods that become very irregular.
Here are some recommendations for self care :
- Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising moderately and eating low fat foods. If you have to lose weight, do so gradually instead of turning to diets that drastically limit your calorie and food intake.
- Make sure you get enogh rest.
- Practice stress reduction and relaxation techniques.
- If you are an athlete, cut back on prolonged or intense exercise routines, Excessive sports activities can cause irregular periods.
- Use birth control pills or other contraceptive methods as directed.
- Change your tampons or sanitary napkins at least twice each day to avoid toxic shock syndrome and prevent infections.
- See a gynaecologist for regular check-ups.