It is not uncommon for a woman to have an irregular period or abnormal menstruation cycle caused by a hormonal imbalance. Stress, breast feeding and alcohol consumption can also effect the menstrual cycle, creating a variation in the normal flow. However, if the irregular menstrual cycle is one of many symptoms, it requires further investigation by a gynecologist. Schedule an annual PAP exam, and discuss any menstrual abnormalities with the doctor. Keeping a calendar of variations from your regular flow will help the medical professionals diagnose the cause, and help work towards a cure for the irregular cycles.
Signs of an Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Missing a menstruation cycle, having it last longer than usual, be shorter than usual or spotting between regular cycles can indicate a hormonal imbalance, stress or an underlying medical concern. When the menstrual cycle varies from the norm, take note of all symptoms, including fever, heaviness of bleeding and any pain or discomfort, and call your gynecologist for further guidance. What constitutes a normal cycle varies for each woman, but should be repeated in a similar pattern each month. Typically a woman will have 11 to 13 menstrual cycles per calendar year, according to WebMD. It is common for young women to have irregular periods at the onset of menstruation, and for older women to have variations in their cycle when they near menopause.
Common Causes of an Irregular Menstrual Cycle
The first thought on the mind of most women is pregnancy. A missed period, light flow or implantation spotting can all be irregular menstruation symptoms of pregnancy. However a variation in the cycle one or two times per year is very normal, according to Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN nurse practitioner on WebMD. Common reasons the menstrual cycle may vary include weight gain or loss in a short period of time, poor nutrition, drug use, increase in stress and the use of some prescription medications.
Serious Causes of Irregular Menstrual Cycles
If pain, fever or a discharge accompanies the irregular period symptoms, a gynecologist may recommend further testing. Abnormalities in the uterus such as cysts, fibroids, polyps or endometriosis may be the cause. More severe conditions such as uterine or cervical cancer may also be discussed if other relevant symptoms accompany the irregular menstrual cycles. Expect the use of an ultrasound, or sonogram to evaluate the vaginal canal, cervix and uterus. A small sample, or biopsy, of the endometrial lining of the uterus or cervix will help the gynecologist determine if abnormal cells are present, indicating a more serious condition.
What to Do if Irregular Periods are Common Without an Underlying Medical Condition
Many women find that a few changes in their lifestyle can help regulate their menstrual cycle Evaluating their diet, and shifting it to a balanced healthy plan approved by their doctor can regulate the menstrual cycle. Taking nutritional supplements, moderate exercise on a regular basis and starting hormonal therapy (such as birth control pills) will deter irregular periods. Implementing daily relaxation techniques such as yoga, reading or napping can reduce stress levels and help regulate the menstrual cycle.