Menstrual irregularities (Irregular Periods)
What are Menstrual Irregularities ?
Menstrual bleeding, its duration, and severity vary from woman to woman. It is advised to see a doctor if the patient has excessively heavy or prolonged menstrual periods that can interfere with the patient’s daily life.
Some of the menstrual irregularities include the following:
- Menstrual Periods occurring less than 21 days or more than 35 days
- Patient missing 3 or more periods in a row
- Patients suffer from a menstrual flow that is unusually heavier or lighter
- Periods that will last for more than 7 days
- Patients suffer pain, cramping, nausea, or vomiting, along with the period
- Bleeding or spotting that happens between periods, after menopause, or after sexual intercourse
Doctors usually can treat most of the irregular periods problems successfully. This excessive bleeding can cause iron deficiency or diseases like Anemia in patients and might also signal an underlying medical condition.
If a patient has an excessively heavy, prolonged or irregular menstrual bleeding, it is known as Menorrhagia. Its symptoms include a menstrual period that lasts longer than a week and the patient needs to change her tampon or pad more than once per hour due to the heavy bleeding.
Some of the following changes are associated with irregular periods include:
- Extreme weight loss
- Extreme weight gain
- Emotional stress
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
- Endurance exercise
Menstrual Irregularities can be caused by some of the following options:
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding : A missed period can be an early sign of pregnancy. Breastfeeding typically delays the return of menstruation after pregnancy.
- Eating disorders, extreme weight loss or excessive exercising : Eating disorders — such as anorexia nervosa — extreme weight loss and increased physical activity can disrupt menstruation.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) : Women with this common endocrine system disorder(PCOS) may have irregular periods as well as enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid — called follicles — located in each ovary as seen during an ultrasound exam.
- Premature ovarian failure : Premature ovarian failure refers to the loss of normal ovarian function before age 40. Women who have a premature ovarian failure — also known as primary ovarian insufficiency — might have irregular or occasional periods for years.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) : is an infection of the reproductive organs that cause irregular menstrual bleeding.
- Uterine fibroids : Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus. They can cause heavy menstrual periods and prolonged menstrual periods.
The doctors usually perform the either one or a combination of the following diagnostic tests to pinpoint the cause of the menstrual irregularities:
- Pap Smear : to check for various infections or cancerous cells
- Blood Tests : to check for anemia, blood-clotting problems, and thyroid function.
- Pelvic Ultrasound : produce images of the patient’s uterus, ovaries, and pelvis.
- Endometrial Biopsy : takes a sample of the patient’s uterine tissue for analysis.
- Diagnostic hysteroscopy : to view the inside of the patient’s uterus. For a hysteroscopy, the doctor will use a lighted tube to view the uterus and remove the polyp.
- Sonohysterogram : is an ultrasound where a fluid is injected into the patient’s to help make an image of the uterine cavity, which is done to look for polyps or fibroids.
- Pregnancy Test
Irregular Periods Treatment
The doctor usually performs the irregular periods treatment depending on the issues that cause the menstruation problems :
Authored By Dr. Sunil Eshwar
Medical disclaimer: For information purposes only
- Puberty and menopause : Irregular periods that occur during puberty or as the patient approaches menopause do not usually need treatment.
- Birth control : If the irregular menstruation is due to the use of contraception, and it continues for several months, it is recommended that the patient approach the doctor for other options.
- PCOS and Obesity : If the patient who is overweight, or obese starts losing weight, it might help stabilize menstruation. Once the patient has reduced her weight, the body need not produce so much insulin, leading to lower testosterone levels and a better chance of ovulating.
- Thyroid problems : The doctor might recommend treatment for the underlying problem by recommending medication, radioactive iodine therapy or surgery.
- Stress and eating disorders : The doctor might recommend psychological therapy if emotional stress, an eating disorder, or sudden weight loss have triggered irregular periods. This might include relaxation techniques, stress management, and talking to a therapist.