Although irregular periods are associated with menopause, they can be caused by other lifestyle habits and medical conditions, such as a thyroid disorder. Continue reading below for more detailed information about the thyroid and irregular periods.
About Irregular Periods and the Thyroid
The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the human body. It is located in the neck and controls a slew of bodily functions. These include energy use, protein production, and interactions among hormones. The thyroid gland is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain and pituitary gland, which is connected to the base of the brain.
Problems with thyroid function can be categorized as one of two different illnesses: hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). Irregular periods can sometimes be traced back to the malfunctioning of the thyroid gland.
Thyroid and Irregular Periods: The Link
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism may both cause different types of irregularities in a woman's menstrual cycle.
An underactive thyroid has been linked to the following types of irregularities:
Early menstruation. Having periods before the age of 10 is considered to be early, and doctors should check to see if the child has hypothyroidism.
Heavy periods. Experiencing periods that are heavier than usual could also be a sign of hypothyroidism.
Frequent or longer periods. If a woman notices a significant shortening of her cycle or periods that last longer than her average duration, she may be suffering from hypothyroidism.
An overactive thyroid has been linked to the following types of menstrual irregularities:
Late menstruation. Teenagers who don't experience their first period by age 15 could be experiencing an overactive thyroid.
Infrequent or absent periods. Intervals between periods that are exceptionally long or a complete absence of one month's period could be a sign of hyperthyroidism.
Managing Irregular Periods
Irregular periods unaccompanied by other symptoms or a medical condition are usually not a cause for concern and do not require medical attention.
You can help regulate your menstrual cycle with these tips:
- Hormonal birth control. The pill, an intrauterine device, or another form of hormonal contraception can regulate periods and reduce heavy bleeding. Changing the type or brand of birth control you are currently using may also help regulate the menstrual cycle.
- Relaxation techniques. Yoga, stress management, and counseling or therapy may be able to help your cycle because extreme stress can cause irregular periods.
However, if you think your irregular periods are a result of a thyroid disorder or another medical condition, you should visit your doctor. Irregular periods can also be a symptom of uterine polyps, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or premature ovarian insufficiency.
Women approaching menopause may experience irregular periods that are caused by hormonal fluctuations; in that case, making lifestyle changes and taking natural remedies are very effective for treating irregular periods.
- National Health Service UK. (2015). Irregular periods. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-irregular/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- Cleveland Clinic. (2014). Abnormal Menstruation. Retrieved from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/healthy_living/hic_Coping_with_Families_and_Careers/hic_Normal_Menstruation/hic-abnormal-menstruation