Everything to know about periods and the menstrual cycle
Irregular periods: advice and treatment
Usually, irregular cycles are nothing to worry about but they should not be overlooked. It’s important to keep track of menstrual changes and consult your doctor if you are in doubt.
Menstrual irregularities: identifying problems
Identifying the problem is half the solution. To do so, you should first rule out non-gynecologic causes. For instance, if you’re experiencing bleeding between periods, make sure that it’s not caused by a hemorrhoid or coming out of your urethra.
If you suspect something is wrong, start by keeping track of your cycle. Write down when your period starts and ends, the duration of your flow and any variations you may notice (heavy flow, light flow, spotting). Your doctor will need this information to make a diagnosis and recommend a suitable treatment.
Only a doctor can determine if the cause of your irregular period is hormonal or organic.
In case of hormone imbalance, hormonal treatments can restore a regular period. A progesterone deficiency can, for example, be compensated by taking progestin-based medications during the second half of the month.
If the cause is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), oral contraceptives are the most common treatment to induce regular periods and prevent long-term complications.
Menstrual irregularities caused by high prolactin levels can be treated with medications called dopamine agonists.
Depending on the underlying cause, some menstrual irregularities can be treated without medical intervention. Few lifestyle changes are enough to put you on the right track again.
If you have exercise-associated amenorrhea, you can help your period return to normal by increasing your calorie intake and reducing the intensity of your workout.
If your period has stopped or become irregular due to an emotional shock or stress, relaxation techniques may be helpful. Try enjoying some “me” time every day by going to your favorite spot, reading a book, or sitting on your couch and listening to your favorite songs, these moments of serenity will ease your stress and help regulate your cycle.
Obesity can affect the body's ability to ovulate, and interfere with your menstrual cycle. In this case, losing weight is the best solution to restore a regular period. If on the other hand, your period was affected by an extreme weight loss, you can consult a nutritionist to help you adopt healthy eating habits that will regulate your weight as well as your cycle.
In all cases, one piece of advice remains clear: if changes in the pace or intensity of your period occurs, stay attentive and see if their pattern is recurring.
Also, don’t forget to keep some pantyliners in your bag. Who knows, your long-awaited period may just be on its way!