Irregular Periods- Causes & Impact

Irregular Periods- Causes & Impact

Menstruation and the period cycle are considered to be a vital sign of women’s general health. It depicts that their reproductive system is healthy and functioning well. However, over the period of time, irregular menstrual cycles are a common phenomenon amongst females of reproductive age groups.

Causes of irregular menses

Irregular periods occur when the menstrual cycle is shorter than 24 days or extends beyond 38 days. They also happen when the duration varies on a monthly basis. Defining in medical terminology, this condition is known as oligomenorrhea.

Irregular periods can happen when a female’s body undergoes changes especially during puberty, breastfeeding, or even approaching menopause. Various external factors such as stress, medications, and mental or physical health conditions can also affect the periods. Even slight changes in hormones or intake of birth control pills could also lead to irregularities in the menstrual patterns. In severe cases, abnormalities in the menses could also be an indication of an unknown and undiagnosed medical condition. For instance, PCOS, eating disorders, endometriosis, thyroid, could be the major reasons causing irregular periods.

Changes due to puberty

When a female reaches the stage of puberty, her body goes several changes. It can take months and even years for the hormones that regulate periods so that they fall into a fixed pattern. Hence, during this time, it is extremely common to have irregular periods.

Irregular periods while breastfeeding

They can also occur after childbirth as well as while breastfeeding till the time the hormones return after having a baby. The women once they age tend to have irregular periods and this is often the first stage of menopause also known as perimenopause.

Using hormonal birth control options

Even hormonal birth control hinders ovulation. The women when they first start taking the pill, patch, implant, or hormonal intrauterine device can experience irregular periods. This restricts them from having period till the time the females are using it.

Irregular menstrual cycle causing infertility

In the long run, irregular periods can lead to infertility amongst the females. Irregular menstrual cycle happens due to anovulation. This is a condition when the female body does not release the eggs. Abnormal ovulation due to irregular periods can obstruct pregnancy and eventually lead to infertility in significant cases.

Anovulation can be treated with fertility drugs. However, it is advised that you seek guidance of an expert so that they can rule out the exact problem at the roots and can prescribe the fertility drugs accordingly to stimulate your ovulation.

Treating infertility due to PCOS

If you are dealing with PCOS, the condition can’t be cured. However, it can be controlled by understanding the symptoms and catering to them with proper medication. The medicines will help stimulate ovulation and ensure regular periods that will further lead to dealing with infertility. What’s noteworthy is that females with PCOS can also consider IVF as a feasible option for getting pregnant and experiencing the joy of parenthood.

Dealing with infertility due to erratic lifestyle

The fast paced lives and working schedules leave little time with the women population to take care of themselves. The sedentary lifestyle further adds to the woes. If females are under tremendous stress or are dealing with any other psychological condition, then the bitter truth is that it can lead to irregular periods and even affect fertility. Stress and mental health conditions cause issues with ovulation and impact the menstrual cycle. This could further carve the path for infertility in the long run.

Treating infertility due to stress

The erratic lifestyle could eventually add up to your worries. To reduce stress, maintaining mental health is extremely important. Communicate clearly with your partner. Adding to it, opt for activities that provide you happiness and serenity. Meditation, yoga, dance sessions, gardening, cooking, reading books, etc. could provide relief from stress making you joyous. Exercising regularly and consuming a balanced diet packed with nutrients will play a major role in releasing your physical and emotional tension.

Fighting infertility due to medical conditions

However, it is important to be evaluated for other conditions as well that could interfere with ovulation such as thyroid or abnormalities of the adrenal or pituitary glands. Losing weight, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and treating your medical condition accordingly will help deal with infertility and improve chances of pregnancy. Along with it, learning and researching as much about your cause of infertility and stringently following the treatment is essential.

Infertility: The long term impact of irregular menses

Contrary to the notion associated with irregular menstrual patterns, women can actually get pregnant with irregular periods. However, in such a scenario, the success rates decrease significantly. This is because irregular periods can make it harder to predict ovulation, recognize signs of fertility, and time sex accordingly.

However, opting for medical assistance by experts or fertility clinics would help females with irregular periods to become pregnant. Furthermore, with just a few modifications in lifestyle, one can boost their health. Quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, maintaining weight and taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid could help maintain the overall health and deal with irregular menstrual cycles and eventually infertility.

Dr. Shilpa Ellur

Senior Consultant - Reproductive Medicine, Milann Fertility Hospital

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