No two women will have the same experience when it comes to their period, but there is a range of what is considered normal in terms of cycle length, regularity, and flow.
Anything that falls outside of this range, along with any sudden or dramatic changes in your typical menstrual cycle, may signify a menstrual disorder.
Causes of Menstrual Disorders Irregularities
Tracking your period can be incredibly helpful, especially if you suspect something is amiss. A period log with dates and flow levels also can assist medical professionals to determine what may be causing your issues. However, it is important to seek help right away if you are experiencing excessive bleeding or severe pain.
The causes of menstrual irregularities and disorders vary and many of them are treatable. Here is a look at some of the most common issues behind these problems.
Many women in their 40s experience perimenopause, which is the transitional phase that occurs before you go into full menopause. However, it also may affect younger women.
The signs of perimenopause can last for several years and often begin with changes to your menstrual cycle. This is because your estrogen levels tend to fluctuate during perimenopause, causing your cycles to get shorter or longer. If your menstrual disorder is accompanied by symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, and mood changes, it could indicate perimenopause.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition that impacts a woman’s hormone levels. This imbalance can cause you to skip periods and experience heavy bleeding when you do get your period.
It is important to report these issues to your healthcare provider as PCOS also may lead to infertility, obesity, male pattern baldness, and excess body or facial hair. Additionally, itcan contribute to serious problems like heart disease and diabetes. However, a doctor can help you to correct this hormone imbalance and improve your symptoms.
When the tissue that normally lines your uterus begins to grow outside of the uterus instead, it leads to a condition known as endometriosis. This can cause very painful menstrual cramps that may be debilitating, in addition to prolonged periods with heavy bleeding and bleeding in between periods. Although endometriosis does not have a cure, it is possible to manage symptoms with medication or hormone therapy.
Thyroid disorders are a common cause of menstrual irregularities. For example, hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, may cause women to experience increased cramping and heavier, longer periods. Fatigue, weight gain, and sensitivity to cold are other symptoms of thyroid issues.
Having high levels of thyroid hormones in the form of hyperthyroidism can lead to lighter and shorter periods. This also might be accompanied by heart palpitations, anxiety, and sudden weight loss.
Hormonal Birth Control
If you are experiencing changes in menstruation, it is important to take a look at your birth control method to see if it could be causing the issue. Some hormonal birth control pills may cause irregular bleeding, spotting between periods, and later periods. Intrauterine devices, the Paragard non-hormonal IUD, may cause heavier bleeding.
In some women, muscular tumors known as fibroids develop within the wall of the uterus. Although this may sound scary, most fibroids are not cancerous. Nevertheless, they can lead to painful periods that are heavy enough to cause anemia. Iron supplements are often recommended for women with menstrual disorders that lead to anemia.
Weight Loss And Eating Disorders
Women who are underweight, have recently lost a significant amount of weight without trying, or have an eating disorder may find that their period stops entirely despite not being pregnant. This is because consuming insufficient calories interferes with the production of hormones your body needs to ovulate. Addressing eating disorders and reaching a healthier weight can alleviate these problems.
Too Much Exercise
There is no question that exercise is good for your health, but exercising excessively and too intensely can interfere with the hormones that are responsible for menstruation. Many female athletes and those who are taking part in intensive physical training develop amenorrhea, which is a condition that occurs when your periods stop or are missed frequently. In these cases, reducing training or increasing calorie intake can help periods return to normal.
There’s a broad range of medications that can interfere with a woman’s menstrual cycle and cause menstrual disorders. These include blood thinners, epilepsy drugs, chemotherapy drugs, aspirin and ibuprofen, antidepressants, thyroid medications, and hormone replacement therapy.
If you are experiencing a menstrual disorder, it is important to let your doctor know all of the medications you are taking so they can explore any potential connections. It is not a good idea to suddenly stop taking these medications, but a healthcare professional can help you to find alternatives that are less likely to cause menstrual disorders.
Talk To Your Doctor About Menstrual Disorders
Menstrual disorders can be caused by a range of issues, many of which can be corrected with medical treatment. If you are experiencing a sudden change in your cycle, spotting between periods, excessive bleeding, or your period stops for more than three months and you are not pregnant, it is important to contact your doctor right away.
Get In Touch With Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness
Although menstrual disorders can be frustrating, many of them are highly treatable. The friendly team of healthcare professionals at Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness can help you understand what is causing your menstrual disorder and recommend treatments that can provide much-needed relief.