Irregular menstruation is a common problem. Just like the downtime that women face during their bleeding, the absence of it or the uncertainty of when the periods will start also causes equal stress and worry. Irregularity in the menses is indeed a cause for concern and requires a medical intervention. Before proceeding to the times when one should consult a doctor, let’s first understand the causes of an irregular menstrual cycle.
Causes of Irregular Menses: Irregularity in the menses can be pretty normal in some cases. For example, when the menstrual cycle begins for a girl, before menopause, and a few times after childbirth, abortion, or miscarriage, it is normal to miss periods. But, apart from these times, irregularity in the menstrual cycle is not normal and a doctor should be consulted. There are several reasons that can contribute towards irregular menses, including the following:
- Eating disorder: Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia may cause an irregular menstrual cycle. This is due to the fact that the body is not producing enough hormones to regulate the menstrual cycle.
- Hyperprolactinemia: The presence of too much of prolactin, a protein hormone, in the blood can lead to irregular periods.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome: The imbalance of the sex hormone leads to the development of polycystic ovary syndrome, commonly referred as PCOS. This disrupts the regular menstrual cycle.
- Premature ovarian failure: Premature ovarian failure implies that the ovaries of a woman have stopped functioning before the age of 40 years is attained by the woman. In some cases, women do have menses, but occasionally.
- Unmanaged diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes is another cause that can lead to irregular periods. This is due to the interaction of the hormones with the blood sugar levels, which disrupts the menstrual cycle.
- Medications: Irregular menses may also result due to the effect of certain medicines. These medicines include antipsychotics and antiepileptics.
Why consult a doctor?
It is extremely important to understand when one should consult a doctor to address the problem of an irregular menstrual cycle. For a woman who is of reproductive age, the following are some instances when a doctor should be consulted:
- Amenorrhea: It is the absence of menses for a minimum of 3 menstrual cycles. Oligomenorrhea: It implies having a menstrual cycle more than 35 days apart. Menorrhagia: It implies heavy bleeding for more than a week. The unusual bleeding or no bleeding at all may result due to the following conditions, which can only be diagnosed by an experienced gynecologist.
- Endometriosis: This is a condition that occurs when the endometrial tissue starts to develop in other areas of the body like the ovaries, between the vagina and also the rectum. Painful and heavy menstruation flow signals this condition, which can lead to inflammation in the abdomen, bowel problems, and also infertility.
- Uterine Polyps: Polyps are benign growths in the lining of the uterus and may occur due to the overproduction of hormones. Heavy or light spotting between periods can be an indication of uterine polyps.menstrual
- Fibroids: Benign tumors found in the uterus are called fibroids. These are formed due to the stimulation of estrogen that leads to the formation of uterine tissue. In general, no symptoms are witnessed and they either go away with pregnancy and menopause or they get smaller in size over a period of time.