Yes, irregular periods can be a pain. Unfortunately, irregular periods are often accompanied by intense pain and may be caused by a few different triggers.
Causes of Irregular Periods and Discomfort
Women experience unexpected discomfort for a number of reasons, including:
- Eating disorders
- Significant weight changes
- Excessive exercise
- Recent birth
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Uterine abnormalities
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Of course, one of the most common causes of irregular periods is menopause - the ultimate cessation of menstruation. If you believe your irregular periods are caused by something more serious than menopause, consult a doctor.
Symptoms of Irregular Periods
A period is irregular when it doesn't adhere to a cycle of about 21 to 35 days. While for some, irregularity is the norm, others have a fairly regular schedule, and changes are quite unexpected. Irregular periods can be characterized by a few common symptoms:
- Infrequent or too frequent periods
- Painful cramping
- Abnormal bleeding
- Changes in blood flow
- Blood clots
Pain and Irregular Periods
Irregular periods, especially during menopause, can be accompanied by intense pain, often in the form of cramping. If you have severe abdominal pain, especially when not menstruating, you should consult your doctor.
Discomfort accompanied by irregular periods could be a sign of:
This is a common reproductive disorder caused by an abnormal growth of the endometrial tissue (uterine lining) outside the uterus. Though it is often not dangerous, it can seriously affect fertility.
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow on the smooth layer of the uterine muscle. They are commonly found in women in the middle to end of their reproductive years.
Women who experience prolonged pain accompanied by irregular periods should discuss the possible sources of the pain and treatment options with their doctors.
Treatments for Discomfort during Irregular Periods
There are dozens of options for treating discomfort during irregular periods, whether they are menopausal or not. Discuss treatment options with your doctor, especially if you are concerned by your symptoms.
- 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