Periods are a normal part of a healthy woman’s reproductive health.. Periods usually last one to seven days and they’re a sign that the menstrual cycle has begun. Menarche (the first period) happens at an average age of 12.3 years in the United States.
It is quite common for women to experience irregular menstrual cycles in adolescence, especially at the beginning of the second cycle. During their first menstrual cycle, most females bleed for two to seven days. About 90% of cycles are 21 to 45 days long, but shorter ones of less than 20 days as well as longer ones of more than 45 days are possible. Within the third year after menarche, about 60–80 percent of women’s menstrual cycles are between 21 and 34 days long.
The most common reason for irregular periods is pregnancy or menopause. But sometimes, some women may find their menstrual cycle a bit erratic, and they may have irregular periods.
How do you define an irregular period?
A woman’s menstrual cycle begins when an egg is released from one of her ovaries. When the egg is not fertilized by sperm, the body sheds the blood and tissues that line the uterus. Typically, this bleeding occurs for five days. This is followed by the next monthly cycle.
Simply speaking, if your period falls unexpectedly outside the regular range of your menstrual cycle, you are having an irregular period.
It is important to be aware of your menstrual cycle as women’s reproductive health is closely linked to their general physical and mental health. It is advisable to take the help of an online tool to keep track of your menstrual cycle.
When a woman has had a regular menstrual cycle since puberty & her cycle suddenly becomes erratic, or ‘irregular’, the medical term for that is Oligomenorrhea. Around 13.5% of the population is affected by this.
The most common signs of an irregular period are:
- Heavy bleeding during your period
- Bleeding for more days than usual
- Erratic menstrual cycle
- Heavy spotting between periods
The most common causes of irregular periods are:
- Stress: Many studies have come to the same conclusion. Stress can seriously wreak havoc on a woman’s reproductive system. In some cases, extreme level of stress can also lead to early menopause.
- Diabetes: The interaction between your blood sugar levels and hormones can disrupt your menstrual cycle needs to be strictly managed to have a regular period.
- PCOS: While the exact causes behind PCOS remain unclear, irregular periods is one of the many symptoms of PCOS. It has also been found that many women who have insulin resistance suffer from PCOS.
- Oral Contraceptives: One of the side effects of taking oral contraceptives is irregular period.
These are only some of the underlying causes which could be causing an irregular period. The underlying cause is hard to self-diagnose and it is best to book an appointment with a gynaecologist to understand the reason and get a treatment plan for yourself.