An irregular cycle is by no means uncommon. Most women experience slight fluctuations that can be caused by factors such as stress, lack of sleep or even a change in climate. An absolutely regular cycle of 28 days, on the other hand, is the exception.
However, if your cycle fluctuations persist or you don't have a period at all, you should consult a doctor. He can determine whether the irregular bleeding is due to a medical condition that requires treatment. Here you can read what causes an irregular cycle can have and which common treatment methods are used.
When is a cycle irregular?
A regular monthly cycle usually lasts between 28 and 32 days. It always starts with a bleed that lasts two to seven days. If your cycle deviates from these standard data, it is called an irregular cycle. For example, if your cycle lasts 35 to 90 days, you have oligomenorrhea. If your cycle is shorter than 25 days, this is called polymenorrhea. On the other hand, you have amenorrhea when your menstrual period stops completely.
The duration of 28 to 32 days is an average resulting from the study of a large number of women of childbearing age. At the same time, this means that it does not reflect the norm for many women. If your cycle deviates only slightly from this period of time, but is regular in itself, it is not necessarily spoken of as an irregular cycle. Ultimately, therefore, a doctor defines in each individual case whether a menstrual cycle disorder is present.
What causes an irregular cycle?
An irregular cycle often occurs during puberty or menopause. In these periods of life, it is caused by a hormonal imbalance that the body regulates on its own. Menstrual cycle disorders are therefore usually not a cause for concern during these times and do not require treatment.
Many women experience cycle fluctuations during stressful times in their lives. This includes not only mental stress at work or in private life, but also changing external influences that can put a strain on the body. A sudden climatic change due to a long journey, a move or even just strong temperature fluctuations can throw the body out of balance. Rapid weight loss, underweight or anorexia can also be causes of an irregular cycle.
Menstrual cycle disorders can also be caused by ovarian cysts in the context of PCOS disease, inflammation of the fallopian tubes or ovaries or malignant ovarian tumors. Thyroid dysfunction or high or low blood sugar levels can also affect cycle length.
Finally, the female hormonal balance is influenced by taking (or stopping) hormonal contraceptives or medication.
How is an irregular cycle treated?
The proper treatment for an irregular cycle depends on its cause. If there is a temporary change in living conditions, it can often be enough to give your body time to regulate itself. In addition, try to reduce stress if possible and pay attention to a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle with enough sleep.
PCOS or similar cycle disorders are usually treated with hormonal contraceptives or diabetes medication. You can support the effect by reducing excess weight and switching to a low-carbohydrate diet.
If menstrual cycle disturbances are caused by illnesses, your doctor will order treatment of the underlying illness. As a result, the hormone balance usually regulates itself so that it does not require any further treatment.