Your cycle can provide clues to your general health. Here are 6 things that could be causing irregular menstruation.
By Dr Helen Webberley
While periods aren’t known for being the most popular time of the month, there are numerous health benefits to menstruating. Your monthly cycle can be a useful indicator that your body is functioning normally, and can highlight any changes in your health. So what does it mean if your periods don’t arrive like clockwork?
Women tend to menstruate every 21-35 days. If you do not have regular periods it could be a sign that your hormones are out of balance, which can lead to the symptoms commonly associated with PMT, including headaches, mood swings, night sweats, fatigue and weight gain.
2.Issues with bone health
The natural balance between oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone ensure healthy bone production. If your periods become irregular, it could be a sign that your bone function is not working at full capacity.
3.Problems with your thyroid
Irregular periods can be a result of your thyroid not working properly. This can lead to fatigue, weight gain, depression, high cholesterol, and other symptoms.
4.Issues with your weight
If you’re either underweight or over weight, your balance of hormones may be affected, which can cause irregular periods. In some cases, particularly where stringent dieting or overtraining is a factor in weight loss, it can cause periods to stop altogether. Your period is therefore a good indicator of whether you are at a healthy weight.
Adrenalin, commonly known as the fight or flight hormone, is released during times of extreme stress. Adrenalin can severely interrupt the body’s hormonal equilibrium to the extent where it can actually prevent conception. If your periods stop, it could mean you need to take some time out to de-stress and it’s affecting your general health.
If you experience abnormally heavy periods, or menorrhagia, it can be a sign of an issue with your reproductive system. Mr Narendra Pisal, consultant gynaecologist at London Gynaecology, explains that it can be a sign of uterine fibroids, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and some forms of cancer.
‘It is always a good idea to get things checked out with your GP or gynaecologist if you’re unsure,’ says Pisal. ‘Bleeding during an average period is supposed to be around 80ml, which is less than half a cup, but a lot of women do have more bleeding than this. You can call your periods heavy, if you are passing lots of clots or having to constantly use double protection, changing protection more frequently than every four hours or if your periods are making you anaemic. If the bleeding is heavy as described above, or making you tired, exhausted and anaemic, you should see a doctor.’