Periods are the first sign of womanhood, the first sign of motherhood which is why some people even celebrate their young daughter’s first menstruation.
That’s so cool!
However, if the menstrual cycle gets disturbed for whatsoever reason it causes stress to both, the parents and the girl who is facing irregular periods.
In this article, we will be talking about delayed periods, irregular periods, missed periods, and everything around them.
WHAT IS A PERIOD?
Periods are the sign of motherhood that means once you start having the periods you are capable of reproduction.
Now we all know that a baby grows inside the uterus.
We have two ovaries out of which one ovary produces an egg every month.
When the sperm comes in contact with the egg, fertilization occurs and develops into a baby over 9 months.
So for all these processes, the uterus prepares itself every month to receive the fertilized egg.
The walls of the uterus get thick with blood and mucus to give a cushion-like bed to the growing foetus.
If the pregnancy does not occur all this preparation goes waste and the inner lining of the uterus is of no more use.
So the uterus sheds its inner lining of blood and mucus and this is known as periods.
WHAT IS AN IRREGULAR PERIODS?
Typically the average length of the menstrual cycle is anywhere between 22 to 35 days.
Your first day of the period is the first day of your menstrual cycle.
You must have heard about the 28 days cycle but for some women 22 days could be normal while for some 35 days could be normal.
It varies from woman to woman depending upon various factors.
So typically small variation up to 7 days before or after your last period date is acceptable, but more than 10 days of variation and for more than 4 times a year is something that needs our attention.
This irregularity in our menstrual cycle is known as irregular periods.
CAUSE OF IRREGULARITY
Now to know the cause you will have to bear with me.
I will take you to the root cause which may leave you feeling a little bored because I know not everybody is interested in knowing the scientific terms and all.
But that’s worth it
Because you will get to know your body more and then you can flaunt your knowledge to your friends.
Let us begin
The entire game of periods and menstrual cycle is played by 4 hormones which are
- FSH- follicle-stimulating hormone
- LH- luteinizing hormone
Our brain has a gland known as the hypothalamus which produces a hormone called Gonadotropin-releasing (GnRH).
This hormone, in turn, stimulates the pituitary gland which is also present in the brain to produce FSH which is the follicle-stimulating hormone.
As the name suggests this hormone acts on the ovaries to develop eggs.
The growing follicles in the ovaries start producing estrogen and the level of estrogen starts rising in the blood. When it reaches a certain critical point, the pituitary gland senses it and starts releasing LH, the luteinizing hormone.
This hormone triggers ovulation( releasing of an egg by one of the ovaries).
After the ovulation takes place the follicles rupture and is called corpus luteum.
This produces another hormone which is called progesterone.
The estrogen makes the inner lining of the uterus thick and the progesterone prepares itself for pregnancy.
If the pregnancy does not happen the levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease and the inner lining of the uterus sheds off.
This is the entire menstrual cycle
It is in two phases
Phase 1- pre-ovulatory phase/follicular phase
Phase 2- post-ovulatory phase/luteal phase
Phase 2 of the cycle is fixed that is 14 days after ovulation but phase 1 of the cycle is variable which means because for a lot of reasons the egg may develop very slowly or may take a very long time to develop increasing the length of the preovulatory phase.
So actually the length of the menstrual cycle is determined by the length of the preovulatory phase
Therefore anything which disturbs the process of ovulation will disturb the cycle.
So you understand the cause behind irregularity, missed period, or delayed period is due to the disturbance caused in the pre-ovulatory phase.
NORMAL REASONS FOR IRREGULAR PERIODS
Irregular or missed periods are not always abnormal. There are certain conditions in which they are considered normal.
Some of them are:
When a woman is pregnant she doesn’t get her periods because of course, the endometrium is busy protecting the baby in the womb.
- Early years of menarche
Menarche is when a girl starts getting her periods. For the initial 2-3 years, it is very common to have irregular periods because our body takes its own sweet time to adjust to the changes happening.
When a woman is breastfeeding then also it is normal to have irregular periods. During this time a hormone called prolactin is released in the body which suppresses ovulation.
Perimenopause is a time when very few eggs are left in a woman’s ovary and her menstrual cycle is coming to an end soon. This marks the end of the reproductive years (menopause). During this time the ovulation does not happen so a woman may experience irregular or missed periods.
ABNORMAL REASONS FOR IRREGULAR PERIODS
Besides the normal reasons there could be some abnormal reasons too which are:
- Excessive weight gain(obesity)
Nowadays due to a lot of bad eating habits, people are gaining weight abnormally, and continuing these habits can turn into obesity. Obesity is not a healthy state for our body and under such conditions, our body is not able to function properly leading to abnormal secretion of hormones.
Increased or decreased levels of a hormone called thyroxine result in thyroid problems which again disturbs the balance of the body. (2)
- PCOS/PCOD(polycystic ovarian disease)
- Secretion of excess prolactin
In some people, extra prolactin is secreted due to some pituitary gland malfunction, which disturbs ovulation. (4)
- Physical or mental stress
In today’s world, we work in such an environment that is so competitive and full of mental stress, and by physical stress I mean whether someone has undergone an injury or a surgery or a chronic disease that has taken a toll on their body.
All these factors are responsible for all the abnormalities in our bodies that result in irregular periods. (5)
- Premature ovarian failure
The normal age of menopause is after 38 years. Menopause which happens before the age of 38 is premature menopause but these days women as young as 34-35 are going into menopause. This is a premature ovarian failure and the main cause is the changing lifestyle of people. (6)
- Excessive exercise
You should be physically active but going overboard can also cause irregular periods. (7)
- Being on certain medications
Certain medications also cause hormonal imbalance which leads to irregular periods.
Such medications include:
- Cancer drugs
- Psychiatric medicines
- Medicines are taken for endometriosis
- Contraceptive pills
HOW CAN YOU BRING YOUR PERIOD ON TRACK?
1. EAT A CLEAN BALANCED DIET
Needless to say, diet plays a very important part. (7)
Ask yourself these 5 questions
- What do you eat?
- How much do you eat?
- How do you eat?
- When do you eat?
- How do you cook?
Every little thing matters when it comes to what you are eating.
A simple formula is to eat the food the way nature wants us to eat
- It should be freshly cooked
- It should be seasonal and local
- It should be simple(less spicy and salty)
- Avoid junk food
- Avoid packaged and processed food
- Avoid plastics
By exercising remember you don’t have to torture yourself by hitting the gym hard, lifting heavy weights, and going overboard. You just have to incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle. (8)
It should be a happy exercise.
3. PRACTICING YOGA
Practicing yoga not only keeps you fit but also calms down your mind.
Yoga is also helpful in relieving PMS symptoms.
Yoga tends to release happy hormones known as endorphins that help us to feel good about ourselves.
4. AVOID FAD DIETS
Fad diets are also known as crash diets. These are some trendy weight loss plans which promise dramatic results. These are not sustainable and not at all healthy.
According to their promises, it not only results in dramatic weight loss but also results in dramatic hormonal imbalances. (9)
5. ADD GINGER AND CINNAMON TO YOUR PLATE
Ginger has magnesium and vitamin C which makes the uterus contract this in turn will make our periods come faster. (10)
Cinnamon keeps our body warm from within which increases the blood flow.
6. MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Managing your stress is also very important.
Go for a nice walk when feeling stressed
Listen to some good and soothing music
Along with it, I feel you should try to address the root cause behind your stress whether it is a relationship, job, or family problem because without addressing them it will keep coming again and again.
7. ENSURE HEALTHY SLEEP
So the periods happen because the hormones in our body are released according to the circadian(day-night) rhythm. (11)
If you don’t sleep at a time and don’t get up at the time the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands get confused as to which hormone to make now.
Sleep time is important
Adequacy of sleep is important
Quality of sleep is important
You should never compromise with your sleep cycle
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
Now you know the game about menstrual cycles and the reasons for their irregularity.
If you find your conditions of irregular periods to be normal there is no need to visit a doctor.
But if you find your reasons for irregular periods abnormal which is already discussed above you should seek medical advice.
The doctors will examine you thoroughly and will rule out the possible reason for your case.
Our body is not designed in such a way that it should undergo irregular periods.
So if we are facing this problem this may be a sign from our body that it might want to tell you. Pay attention to it.
Your body is smarter than you think.
Have some quality ‘me’ time and introspect where you are going wrong with your body.
There is a saying
“ YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE, KEEP IT PURE AND CLEAN”
Think about it and quit all those habits which are harming your temple and making it impure.
Do share what is your story of periods?
This way we all beautiful souls can help each other by sharing our own real-life experiences.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
What are the reasons for irregular periods?
The following could be the reasons for irregular periods:
1. Excessive weight gain
4. Secretion of excess prolactin
5. Premature ovarian failure
6. Excess exercise
7. Physical and mental stress
Are irregular periods signs of infertility?
Not exactly, irregular periods don’t mean infertility, but you can experience a hard time getting pregnant.
Irregular periods are a sign that there is a problem with ovulation. However, if you can track your ovulation, you can get pregnant.
What can I do to make my periods regular?
The following steps should be taken to cure irregular periods:
1. Exercise regularly
2. Eat a balanced diet, avoid junk
3. Avoid FAD diets
4. Practice yoga
5. Ensure a good night sleep
6. Stress management
7. Add cinnamon and ginger to your diet