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Menstruation is a cyclical process when at a certain time of the month, the lining of the uterus is shed and vaginal bleeding occurs. Sometimes there can be abnormalities in this cycle. Irregular periods in women are abnormal variations in the length, volume, duration and quality of menstrual cycle. Irregular periods aren't uncommon among menstruating women.
Abnormalities in periods can be of the following nature:
- Varying time between successive periods
- Loss of more or less blood than usual
- Varying length of your periods
Based on these categorizations, the different types of periods are:
- Irregular menstrual bleeding - Irregular menstrual bleeding is characterized by bleeding that takes place for more than 20 days in a solitary cycle, which can lengthen over a period of a year.
- Absent menstrual bleeding - In this type of menstrual bleeding, a woman does not get her period at all within a span of 90 days.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding - This involves excessive blood loss that may intervene with a woman's physical, psychological and social quality of life.
- Heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding - This is less common than heavy menstrual bleeding and is different from in terms of duration. A different type of therapy is required to treat the condition as it is more severe in nature.
- Light menstrual bleeding - Light menstrual bleeding is characterized by less blood loss than usual.
Irregular periods can be caused due to several reasons. Some of them are:
- Switching from one birth control pill to another or taking certain medication
- Excessive exercising
- Breastfeeding or pregnancy
- Polycystic ovary disease (PCOS)
- Uterine fibroids
- Getting an IUD (intrauterine device)
- Gradual thickening of uterine lining or the development of polyps on the uterine lining
- Scarring of the lining of the uterus can also be a possible cause
Changes in the body's level of hormones can also disrupt a woman's periods. Estrogen and progesterone are the chief hormones that play a crucial part in the menstrual cycle and influence the flow as well, thereby giving rise to abnormalities if their balance is disturbed.
When it comes to treating irregular periods, modifying your lifestyle, treating the underlying issue behind an irregular cycle, changing your birth control pills (if that is the cause), opting for hormone therapy or even surgery are viable treatment options.