Everything to know about periods and the menstrual cycle
Irregular periods: What may be happening?
Sometimes heavy, sometimes light, sometimes here, sometimes not... your period doesn't run exactly like clockwork! From puberty to menopause, most women will experience an irregular period at some point. In most cases, irregularity is perfectly normal but sometimes, it may be a sign of a more serious problem. Take a look at our guide to find out more.
What causes irregular periods?
There are different physical and psychological factors that can affect your menstrual flow. Here are the most common ones:
Stress: Since the period is affected by brain function, stress and emotional shock can easily disrupt it. In fact, Cortisol, the stress hormone, directly affects the production of estrogen and progesterone, which alters your normal cycle.
- Dietary habits:
Gaining or losing too much weight at once can lead to hormonal fluctuations, a major cause of delayed menstruation.
A lot of medications affect the way your body produces estrogen and progesterone. That’s why, when you’re sick, your period may arrive late by a day or two.
Burning too much energy while exercising will drain the body’s strength making it hard for you to menstruate.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome:
a common cause consisting of the formation of cysts on the ovaries which affects regular ovulation.
What are the types of irregularities?
Very light period or Hypomenorrhea
Girls with hypomenorrhea have a very light flow and their period usually lasts less than 3 days. Moreover, their menstrual blood becomes either light pink or too brown. Sometimes, hypomenorrhea leads to missed or unpredictable periods.
This condition is common in teens who have just started menstruation, since the hormones controlling ovulation haven’t reached a balance yet.
Another cause of hypomenorrhea is excess secretion the hormone that causes lactation. When it occurs in high doses, it disrupts ovulation meaning you will miss your period.
If you have a light period, or an abnormally long cycle (longer than 40 days), consult your doctor.
No period or Amenorrhea
Absence of periods is referred to as amenorrhea. Normally, menstruation doesn’t happen before puberty, during pregnancy, after menopause and sometimes while breastfeeding.
Apart from these normal cases, amenorrhea may be caused by harsh diets, endurance sports, obesity, or certain medications.
If all of the above is not applicable and you’re not getting your period when you normally should, check with your doctor as this may be the symptom of a medical condition.
Spotting or Metrorrhagia
Sometimes, between two periods, you may notice small traces of blood on your underwear. This is called spotting or metrorrhagia and can last from several hours to several days.
Spotting is usually mild and shouldn’t happen frequently. If it persists, it might indicate a serious underlying condition. Bleeding can, for example, be a sign of hormonal imbalance or vaginal dryness. Consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.