As a woman enters perimenopause, her body reduces estrogen and ovulation production in preparation for infertility. In consequence she may experience an array of unsettling symptoms. These can include emotional distress, vaginal dryness, fatigue, and irregular periods. Irregular periods are a natural part of the menopausal transition, and are generally not a cause for too much concern. Read on to learn more about irregular periods here.
Why Do I Get Irregular Periods?
You can experience irregular periods at almost any time during your life. After your first menstrual cycle, (menarche), you will slowly start to develop a menstrual pattern. During this time, it is normal for girls to have cycles of different lengths. Even when your body has adapted to a regular cycle, it is not uncommon for women to have their periods at slightly different times each month.
One type of menstrual irregularities women can experience is menstrual cycles that are shorter than 21 days and longer than 36. Just making small changes to your weekly schedules can be enough to trigger this type of irregular period. Whilst it is not uncommon, if you often have irregular periods you should seek further advice from a medical professional. Irregular periods can be triggered by a number of factors such as being over or underweight. The irregularities can also be caused by extreme exercise, dieting, and stress. During menopause however, irregular periods are most often caused by hormonal imbalance in the body.
Irregular Periods and Infertility
Generally irregular periods should not be a cause for concern, they can be caused by something as small as a change to your regular routine. Although irregular periods may mean that you are ovulating irregularly, you can still become pregnant. Irregular periods do not mean that you are infertile unless you are in menopause and a year has passed without a period occurring.
However, irregular periods may also be sign of anovulation. This is a type of ovulatory dysfunction which causes ovulation to become absent. Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary and it must happen in order for you to achieve pregnancy. Having an ovulatory dysfunction doesn't mean that you are infertile, but achieving pregnancy may become more difficult. Seek advice from a relevant medical profession for more information.
- Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007