Menstrual cycle generally starts at puberty – the age between ten and fourteen years. However, for some women, the cycle may begin little early or a little late. After puberty, most women develop regular menstrual cycle, which is of about 28 to 34 days. Menstrual bleeding usually lasts between two to seven days, with average length of bleeding being five days. With about 11 to 12 periods a year the menstrual cycle continues to occur till the menopausal age. But the menstrual cycles are not as regular as they seem here. There are certain reasons which contribute to the variation in the length of the menstrual cycle and bleeding both.
Hormonal imbalance is usually responsible for variations in the length of the menstrual cycle. At the time of puberty, the body goes through a lot of hormonal changes, which may cause irregular periods during that time. Pregnancy is also a major reason for the irregularity in periods and wide variations in the pattern of bleeding after delivery. Stress, depression, excessive weight loss, travel, birth control methods, medicines, increased exercise, eating disorders etc. can cause changes in the hormonal level of the body. Irregular menstruation may also be a symptom of an imbalance of sex hormones, which may result in disorders like polycystic ovary syndrome. Problems with pelvic organs may also disrupt periods.
If puberty or child birth is the reason behind irregular periods, the menstrual cycle generally gets regularised with the passage of time. Also, if a woman is approaching her menopausal age, the irregular periods will eventually come to an end altogether. These are some of the normal causes of irregular periods that don’t require treatment. However, if the irregularity persists, the woman may have to take some oral contraceptives to regulate menstruation. When stress, depression, weight loss, travel, or excessive exercise is the reason for irregular periods, measures should be taken to overcome these problems. Once the situation is brought under control, the periods become regular.
When there is no specific reason for irregular periods and no clear pattern of menstrual bleeding, one should seek medical guidance immediately. Tests such as the pregnancy test and blood tests may be conducted to identify the underlying causes for the irregular periods. If the results of these tests indicate any disorder, treatment for that particular disorder may regulate menstrual cycle.