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Irregular periods - Know when to seek help

Dr. Astha Dayal
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Dr. Astha Dayal
MD, MRCOGIrregular periods - Know when to seek help

Menstruation is the periodic shedding of a woman’s uterine walls, leading to vaginal bleeding. The time during which the bleeding occurs is called the menstrual period. Menstrual periods are expected to be regular during a woman’s reproductive years and typically happen after every 24 to 38 days. Each period may last for 2-8 days. However, periods may not be regular for everyone, and irregular periods can be a cause for concern in acute cases.

When is a woman said to have irregular periods?

A woman may be diagnosed for irregularity in periods if:

  1. The time lags between periods change abnormally
  2. Menstrual bleeding is lower or higher than usual
  3. There is a significant irregularity in the duration of periods

Types of irregularities in periods

A doctor may treat irregular periods depending on the nature of the irregularity. Some of the irregularities in periods are as follows:

Prolonged menstrual bleeding: In some women, bleeding may last for more than 20 days during a period. This may become a recurring pattern for as long as a year.

Absence of bleeding: This refers to situations when a woman does not experience bleeding in a timespan of 90 days.

Heavy bleeding: Excessive bleeding during menstruation affects the routine activities.

Heavy bleeding for a prolonged duration: This condition needs to be dealt with a customised therapy.

Light bleeding: This may not be a cause for concern for every woman.

Causes of irregularities in periods

Irregularity in periods is a common problem. And, the primary cause for irregular periods may be hormonal or related to pregnancy. The course of treating an irregular period will depend on two factors:

Diagnosing irregularity in periods

When a patient complains of irregular periods, doctors first check to see if the missed periods are due to pregnancy. Irregular periods can also arise from usage of birth control mechanisms, such as contraceptive devices, or medications. If the patient is not pregnant and not on birth control, she needs to take up hormone tests to check for irregularities in hormone excretions.

Treating irregular periods

Treatments are opted for based on how far the irregularity in periods affects a woman. Some of the options to treat irregular periods include:

  • Changing the type of birth control mechanism
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Hormone therapy
  • Surgery