Understanding Menstrual Irregularities

Posted on December 15, 2023
  • Women's Health
  • menstruation
Premium Article

I get asked about menstrual irregularity or irregular periods in my inbox so many times. Now, when it comes to periods and the length of your periods, when we talk about cycle length, we mean the number of days from the start of one menses to the start of the next Menses.

If they are less than 21 days in your cycle, then we say you have menstrual irregularity, which is called Polymenorrhea, which means your menses have come more frequently than 21 days. Now, if it takes more than 35 days for you to have another menses, then you have what we call a Oligomenorrhea , which is very common in some conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is becoming quite common and we'll talk about where people have a long time before they have their next messes, or sometimes they can even take months before they see their menses. So that being said, we expect that it will take at least 21 days and at most 35 days before you see your next messes .

Now , also your periods may be between 21 to 35 days. For cycle length, however, the duration is always changing. For example, you may have it 24 days this month. The next time is 32 days. The next time is going to be 28, then it keeps on changing like that. So that is also another form of menstrual irregularity.

Now, menstrual irregularities may be caused by a wide number of things. But today, I just want to tell you about the ten most common causes of menstrual irregularity. Now. 

The first one is due to eating disorders, and we mean severe ones like anorexia and bulimia. Now, in both of these conditions, the individual is very concerned about their body image. They think that they are too fat. So in anorexia, the person staves and doesn't eat at all. 

In bulimia, the person may eat and even actually overeat but after overeating they do something to cause themselves to vomit out all the food. They just throw up everything they eat. So now in these conditions, the body doesn't get enough nutrients. It doesn't get enough energy that it needs to keep itself alive. So what it does is it divides all the energy into keeping itself alive. Now having menstruation requires energy, but it's not a life-saving function of the body. So the energy gets diverted away to the heart, the lungs, and then the kidneys and other vital areas that need to work to stay alive. As a result of that, they may have irregular Menses or they may not even have their periods at all.

Now, the second factor is when you have excessive weight gain or weight loss. Now when you have excessive weight gain you put on a lot of fats now. That is needed by the body to produce something called estrogen. Estrogen is a type of sex hormone, a special type of chemical that controls the reproductive organs in your body and helps you have a normal menstrual cycle. So if you have too much fat, you may end up producing too much estrogen and other chemicals in the blood that results in what we call a hormonal imbalance, the same way too if you have a lot of weight loss and A lot of fats being lost and then there's a reduction in the production of these sex hormones. 

Now, the third factor is if you are too slim, too skinny, or if you are obese now, once again, it's with the amount of fats that you have in your body. So if you have too little fat or too much fat your messes can become irregular or disappear and sometimes even obesity has been known to have some effects on your ability to even have children.

Now the fourth one is stress or emotional problems. Now when you are stressed your body tends to produce something that we call stress hormone and it can end up interfering with the way your brain and your reproductive organs communicate and can cause you to either have irregular Menses or to even start having your menses. There are some people under severe stress when they are scared they're frightened They may immediately start to flow. There are some people when it gets to exam time, especially students when I get to exam times then they start having problems with menstrual flow and all that. Okay, and that's because you need a sound mind and a sound body. 

Now the fifth possible cause of hormonal problems hormones are produced by various organs in the body and there's one organ called the thyroid you may have heard of goiter. All right where there's a swelling? In the neck, the thyroid produces something called thyroid hormone, which controls how fast our bodies work. So if there's overproduction or underproduction of this steroid hormone, it may affect your menstrual cycle. 

Also, there's another chemical called prolactin this chemical or hormone causes females to produce breast milk now at the same time when there are high levels of this prolactin, it can cause you not to ovulate and as a result not have your menses or have irregular Menses 

Now traveling is the sixth factor.    I'll talk about how traveling is also quite a stressful activity, especially if you are even changing location, so travel is the stress of moving, changing location, and changing diet. It can also result in changes in your cycle. 

Now the seventh one is over Sizing that I said over-exercising. I didn't say exercising. So don't use it as an excuse not to exercise when you over-exercise, for example, those who are athletes or those who trained very hard. They are jamming doing bodybuilding which may cause you to stop menstruating because your body now goes into survival mode where it channels all its energy into the athletic activity into the muscles. Now menstruation requires energy as I've said already so your body now diverts the energy away and just uses exercise often. So quite often you find out that athletes, especially those who are very thin, those who do bodybuilding have no Menses at all, or they have irregular Menses. 

Now, the eighth condition is possibly when you have problems with your reproductive system such as your womb or sometimes your ovaries for example in polycystic ovary syndrome where instead of releasing eggs the ovaries are not able to release eggs and they form little sacks of fluid so I'll talk about that in a later video as is a very common condition 

Now nine is with drugs, especially contraceptive drugs like those used for emergency contraception where we are talking about Lydia or postinor , now if you use those drugs too frequently it can result in you having either irregular Menses or not having your messes at all. Now those drugs were just designed for emergency use maybe when your condom feels and not for regular use now. 

The last one is breastfeeding, now because the breastfeeding especially among people who have just delivered within their first six months because of prolactin which I mentioned earlier, stimulating the breasts for milk the high levels of prolactin during the first six months after The pregnancy can cause you not to have your menses at all and it can even be used as a form of planning. So please if you're having regular messes, you can drop me a comment,  and find out what exactly the cause is.  This is Dr Nana K ! 


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