7 Causes for Irregular Periods and Why You Should not Ignore Them

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“It’s already the 25th and I haven’t got my periods yet. It’s been delayed by more than 8 days. What’s wrong?”

A missed period is one of the most common worries for women. When her menstrual cycle dates don’t match her marked calendar dates, there are a dozen of fears she is burdened with. Most women find a missed menstrual period occasionally. But when it happens twice in a row, it means it’s time to get yourself checked.

Taking a little extra time to check in with your body gives you the chance to recognize abnormalities. You can then take steps accordingly to effectively address them.

A normal menstrual cycle is of 28 days, plus or minus seven days. An irregular menstrual cycle is characterized either as an earlier than expected period or a later than expected period. It can also mean a skipped period or bleeding in between regular periods, heavier/ lighter menstrual flow than usual. The most common reasons for irregular monthly cycle are as below.

  1. Excessive weight loss or gain: Weighing too much or too little affects a woman’s menstrual cycle. Too much weight gain can cause excess estrogen storage in fatty tissues. This then gets partially converted by the body to androgens leading to thinning of the uterine lining and decreased ovulation. Excessively low body weight interrupts many hormonal functions in the body, potentially halting ovulation. Strive for a healthy weight.
  2. Stress: Stress can affect hormones and induce irregular periods. Extreme fatigue, worry or anxiety cause the hormones to become unbalanced. Excessive stress plays a role in suppressing the functioning of the hypothalamus. Hypothalamus, controls the pituitary gland that in turn controls the thyroid and adrenal glands and the ovaries, all of which work together to manage hormones. The side effects of ovarian dysfunction leads to irregular periods. Monthly periods are quite susceptible to dips and spikes in our emotions and our health. A sudden change in the way your brain reacts to stressed situations interferes with the hormonal productivity, leading to irregular estrogen and progesterone levels.
  3. Intense Exercise: Regular exercise is good to maintain a healthy life. However, too much exercise can result in estrogen dominance thereby leading to irregular periods. Girls who are athletic and very active in sports normally face problems with their regular menstrual cycle. Athletic amenorrhea tends to be seen in women who participate in rigorous training exercises like long distance running, ballet, gymnastics, and figure skating.
  4. Birth Control Pills – they can make one’s periods lighter, or cause one to miss periods. The body takes sometime to adjust to the new levels of hormones delivered by hormonal birth control therefore leading to irregularity.
  5. Chronic Illness – Chronic illnesses such as Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, Tuberculosis, heart disease, uncontrolled diabetes  may postpone menstrual periods by delaying ovulation.
  6. PCOS – It is a genetic condition that results from abnormal levels of certain hormones. Girls with PCOS typically have irregular menstrual cycles and may experience fewer than 9 menstrual cycles a year. Due to PCOS, the ovaries do not regularly ovulate and there are also a number of under-developed follicles in the ovaries. They have high levels of androgen (male hormones) which leads to excess hair growth, acne and often overweight.
  7. Alcohol Abuse – Long-term heavy drinking can cause women to have irregular periods or stop ovulating. Drinking alcohol causes hormonal imbalances and can affect the way the liver processes the hormones that are responsible for ovulation and menstrual regularity.

Many women miss periods now and then. If you’ve skipped a period, try to relax and firstly restore the emotional and physical balance of yourself. Unless you are pregnant, chances are your cycle will return to normal next month. However, if you miss it the second time or show symptoms of irregular periods along with symptoms like flushing, sweating, heat intolerance, heart palpitations, and sleeplessness immediately check with the doctor. Many menstrual problems could indicate undiagnosed thyroid conditions. They call for a thyroid evaluation by your physician.

Never ignore menstrual changes. Talk to your doctor without delay!

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