Us women get around a number of 450 periods during our lifetime, which means we spend plenty of time worrying and anticipating the next dreaded date of the month. Even so, after applying a million different permutations and combinations, your period still might surprise you!
Every women’s period cycle varies on a subjective note, but on an average- a woman gets their period every 24 to 35 days. For some women, it hits them like clockwork at just the right time as predicted. And for some, it’s an erratic hit or miss kind of a thing.
But is this irregularity in periods seemingly normal, as to just let it take its course? Or is it something that might be considered alarming enough to seek medical advice?
Chances are that you might have experienced it at least once in your life, be it a little miss at your monthly visitor or another symptom of period irregularity.
Let’s take a look at some of these symptoms:
How to tell if you have irregular periods?
- The period cycle or the time between each period starts to vary too much and it becomes very unpredictable to determine your next period date.
- Your period lasts for more than 7 days at a stretch and you lose too much blood.
- Your blood flow is either too less or too much than usual during a period.
- There is always a stark difference in the number of days that your period lasts.
- You experience more pain than usual during a period.
There are a ton of factors that add to these irregularities that women experience in periods. The changes in your body and gut health also affect the hormonal balance of estrogen and progesterone which can disrupt the normal pattern of your period.
Let’s go into more detail and discuss the causes that may be affecting the regularity of your periods.
Major causes of irregular periods:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of irregularities in period cycles for many women. It indicates the development of numerous small cysts (fluid-filled) in the ovaries, and the excess production of androgens, male sex hormones usually present in women in small amounts. However, some women with PCOS who do not develop cysts in their ovaries, also go through other symptoms.
Some of the major symptoms of PCOS may include:
- Irregularity in period cycle or Missed periods
- Development of multiple cysts in the ovaries
- Excessive hair growth, including facial hair, chest, stomach
- Abnormal weight gain and obesity in women linked to insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction
- Acne or oily skin due to the manifestation of hormonal imbalance stimulating the production of oil in the skin
- Hair loss causing thinning of hair or Male-pattern baldness
Maintaining your weight might also be a major challenge when you’re dealing with PCOS. Exercising regularly can help prevent long-term health problems from PCOS and can greatly benefit by losing excess weight. Losing 5% of excess weight can also significantly improve the symptoms of PCOS. The treatment of PCOS focuses on restoring the balance of hormones in the body and managing these symptoms to prevent long term health problems like loss of bone density and infertility.
Changes in Diet
Gut health and diet are important factors that can also affect your PMS symptoms. Lack of protein or having too much junk food with high caffeine and salt intake can cause abdominal bloating, irritability, poor sleep and painful menstrual cramps. A protein-rich diet with plenty of veggies, calcium-rich and low-fat dairy can ease out your period pangs and help regulate your cycle.
Switching to a healthy and fibrous diet incorporating nuts, seeds, fruits and a variety of wholegrains, oats, buckwheat flour, and diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and vitamin D can effectively help in smooth sailing your periods while also maintaining your weight and reducing bloating.
Change in workout routine
Studies have also shown a great improvement in some women’s menstrual cramps and abdominal pain if they have a regular workout schedule 3-4 times a week. The release of ‘happy’ hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, proves to be quite helpful in reducing painful PMS symptoms and mood swings during your period.
In some cases, exercising too much and too often can also lead to irregular or missed menstrual periods and changes in the period cycle. Being more common in athletes and other women who train hard regularly, a vigorous fitness routine can disrupt the period cycle and result in missed or irregular periods. It can also get triggered if you suddenly start an intense workout routine after a long period of time. Maintaining a regular workout schedule and a healthy diet is key to improving your menstrual health.
Yes! We have all been there! Us women who menstruate have all either been a few days late or missed a period altogether owing to short-lived stress in our day-to-day life. Stress is one of the major causes that are linked to irregular period cycles in women. Where light stress can make your period go haywire for a bit, periods triggered by chronic stress can cause some serious erratic changes and an absent menstruation.
According to the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston:
“Some studies have observed that over 70% of women experience recovery with the resumption of menses if their absent periods were associated with psychological stress or weight loss. Women who recover typically have a higher body mass index and lower cortisol levels than those who don’t,”
Obesity and weight gain linked to stress and eating disorders are common triggers to menstrual health problems that can even worsen the symptoms of PCOS in women.
Incorporating simple lifestyle changes including nutritional diet, regular exercise, meditation and good eating habits can effectively alleviate and reverse the cause of the stress.
Dealing with modern-day stress, It’s imperative to put your health on the front-foot and consciously take care of your body. Establishing a healthy weight BMI through a fulfilling lifestyle will definitely benefit in a positive mental attitude and a healthy period cycle.