On average, young women will get their first period at the age of 12 and will continue to do so every menstrual cycle until they enter menopausal age. A menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of bleeding of one menstrual period to the first day of bleeding of the next period. Typical cycle is between 21 and 35 days, lasting between two to seven days. However, all bodies are different and throughout the course of their lifetime some women will experience unpredictable and irregular periods, referred to as abnormal menstruation.
If you are experiencing intermittent periods or flow and wondering about irregular menstruation symptoms, read on to learn more and find out whether or not it is a matter you need to discuss with your doctor.
What is abnormal menstruation?
Abnormal menstruation, also referred to as irregular periods, are either changes in the amount, frequency and duration of vaginal bleeding. There are several classifications of menstruation problems, and below are some of the most common types.
- Amenorrhea – Amenorrhea occurs when a woman’s period does not occur for months or stops completely. Unless the patient is going through menopause, pregnant, or actively breastfeeding, a prolonged lack of a period over three months is considered abnormal. If a young woman hasn’t begun menstruating by the time she is 15 or 16, she may also be considered to have amenorrhea.
- Oligomenorrhea – Periods that happen infrequently (fewer than six to eight menstrual cycles over the course of a year) are referred to as oligomenorrhea. It can also described as having a menstrual cycle longer than 35 days.
- Dysmenorrhea – While some discomfort and feeling physically ill during the cycle is normal for most women, dysmenorrhea is considered a menstruation problem. Dysmenorrhea occurs when the patient experiences severe menstrual cramps and extremely painful periods.
- Abnormal uterine bleeding – An umbrella term for a variety of menstrual irregularities, abnormal uterine bleeding can refer to a number of symptoms, including: a significantly heavier menstrual flow; prolonged periods with bleeding lasting over seven days; or spotting or bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after the patient has undergone menopause.
Period irregularities may vary from case to case and some women may experience different forms of period illness at different periods in their lives. The key to effectively addressing these issues is to understand underlying causes and symptoms. If you have experienced these or other menstruation related problems, our doctors are highly trained and well-equipped to assist you.
What causes abnormal menstruation?
As all women are different and all bodies vary, there are also several contributing factors and causes of abnormal menstruation. Below are some of the most common underlying reasons behind abnormal menstruation:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome – Polycystic ovary syndrome, commonly referred to as PCOS, is a metabolic and hormonal disorder that affects over 87 percent of women who have irregular menstrual cycles. PCOS is caused by an insulin resistance combined with an overproduction of “male” hormones or androgens by the ovaries or adrenal glands.
- Thyroid or pituitary disorders – Thyroid or pituitary disorders are found in around 44 percent of women with irregular periods. This can refer to a number of different disorders, such as hypothyroidism (underproduction of thyroid hormones), hyperthyroidism (an overproduction of thyroid hormones), and hyperprolactinemia (irregularly high levels of prolactin, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, in the blood).
- Pelvic inflammatory disease – Pelvic inflammatory disease, also known as PID, is commonly caused by sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea. PID can cause inflammation of the womb, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, leading to a disruption in a woman’s menstrual cycle.
- Perimenopause – As women get closer to menopausal age, their menstrual cycles become more intermittent and unpredictable. Affecting an average of 70 percent of women, perimenopause can cause menstrual irregularities.
- Stress and anxiety – Prolonged periods of stress and chronic durations of anxiety can greatly affect a woman’s hormone balance, causing irregularities in her menstrual cycle.
- Extreme exercise – Straining the body too much during exercise, especially when it is done habitually, can affect the timing of menstrual cycles. In some severe cases, extreme exercise can sometimes stop periods completely.
- Bleeding disorders—Problems in the blood clotting can also result to heavy bleeding. Other signs include easy bruising, heavy bleeding after childbirth or during surgery, gum bleeding after dental procedure.
- Birth control– Because birth control and hormonal contraceptives disrupt the body’s natural hormonal balance, they can also commonly cause irregular bleeding. This includes birth control pills, intrauterine devices, and implants.
What are the symptoms of abnormal menstruation?
One must keep track of her menstrual cycle in order to establish the abnormality in the normal cycle.To get a clearer picture of what your regular cycle is, you would have to repeat this process for three months. Some early signs of an abnormal menstrual cycle would be:
- Flow becomes noticeably heavier or lighter across periods
- The duration of the cycle varies by over 20 days from month to month
- Intermenstrual bleeding or bleeding that occurs between regular periods
- Prolonged periods that last longer than eight days
- Heavy blood loss that requires frequent changing of sanitary products
- Any vaginal bleeding after menopause
Addressing abnormal menstruation, especially in cases that require intervention, begins by watching out for these signs. To learn about when to seek help, take a look at our FAQs.
How is abnormal menstruation treated?
Treatment for abnormality in the menstruation is highly individualized. It depends on the severity of the patient’s case as well as the underlying cause of the irregularities in periods. Some commonly suggested treatments include the following:
- Taking medication or hormone therapy to restore the balance in the body, especially in cases caused by PCOS and thyroid or pituitary disorders.
- Changing methods of birth control, especially after irregular periods occurring three months after starting hormonal birth control.
- Lifestyle changes, particularly for cases that are caused by chronic stress or an extreme exercise regimen.
- Surgery in specific cases caused by structural problems or scarring within the reproductive system.
When should you seek medical attention for abnormal menstruation?
While some periods can normally fluctuate, abnormal periods can be caused by underlying problems that need to be addressed. Some signs and symptoms that you need to call your doctor and seek medical attention for abnormal menstruation are:
- A sudden change in your menstrual cycle, especially after having regular periods
- Missing multiple periods at a time or getting fewer than six to eight periods in a year
- Periods that happen too frequently, with breaks lasting less than 21 days
- Prolonged periods that cause you to bleed more than seven to eight days
- Irregular pain or bothersome abdominal cramping during your period
- Heavy bleeding causing symptoms of dizziness, body weakness and paleness of skin
When seeking medical intervention, it is important that you approach medical providers that validate your experience and provide you with the best treatment possible. If you are interested in empathetic and solution-oriented medical attention that is supported by expertise, find out how EVA Teleconsult works to learn more.
How EVA Teleconsult can help with abnormal menstruation
When it comes to your reproductive health, it is important that you pay attention to the cues your body is giving you in order to stay healthy. EVA Teleconsult’s doctors can help women of all ages identify and manage abnormal menstruation. We do this by ensuring that our patients always get:
- Timely and same-day appointments – We respect our patients’ time and begin consultation sessions at exactly the time they’re booked. Take control of your time, and your health, when you come to us.
- 30-minute consultations – No more hurried consultations or rushed, dismissive doctors. When you come to EVA Teleconsult, you’ll have all the time you need to ask any questions you might have about your health concerns.
- Full, detailed explanations from highly rated doctors – Information is power, so our doctors give you everything you need to take control of your health, from causes of your health concerns to tips on how to manage it, and of course, a well-designed diagnosis and treatment plan.
Take control of your health in order to take care of yourself, and contact us today.