For women under 40 hot flashes, constant fatigue, and vaginal dryness, are common symptoms of menopause, can seem like a distant worry. However, irregular periods in women who are not menopausal is something that should be taken seriously. Irregular periods could also be warning signs of excessive exercise or an eating disorder.
Take control of your health and read on to learn how to recognize irregular periods.
What Are the Common Symptoms?
Common symptoms of an irregular period can include painful cramping, missed periods, abnormal length, changes in blood flow, fertility, and too frequent or infrequent periods.
Premature Ovarian Failure and Irregular Periods
Affecting 1 out of 100 women under the age of 40, irregular periods could be a sign of your body telling you that something is wrong. Often women feel relief about not dealing with their monthly visitor and may attribute their missed period to stress. In some women this could be an indication of premature ovarian failure (POF). Many women who suffer from this condition can become infertile. Although the cause of POF remains unknown, approximately 10% of POF cases can be attributed to either a genetic condition or an autoimmune disorder which causes the immune system to attack the body's own tissues.
In this case, women's ovaries are not functioning normally and young sufferers of POF regularly stop releasing eggs and decrease production of estrogen and other reproductive hormones. Similar to menopause, symptoms of POF include bone loss and can often be relieved by hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
When Should I See a Doctor?
Annual checkups are advised for all women. However, those who are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, a doctor should be consulted immediately:
- Heavy bleeding
- Bleeding lasting longer than 7 days
- Abdominal pain
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Excess hair growth
- Unexplained weight gain
- Odorous vaginal discharge
Additionally, seeking alternative medicines and treatments concentrating on hormone imbalances can help to treat irregular periods.
Having healthy periods is a sign that your ovaries are working properly. So don't let your period control your life! Take control of your health and learn to recognize the signs of an irregular period. Click on the following link to read about treatments for irregular periods.
- 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