Better Late than Never? [Irregular periods]

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We’ve all heard that phrase which I believe is of mothers teaching their offspring that patience is a virtue! But what if we’re waiting for our periods? Yes, I suspect most of us women have at some time in our lives worried about late or irregular periods. I know I have on many occasions. But a missing or late period doesn’t necessarily indicate the possibility of being pregnant. A very dear friend of mine asked me for help recently and this was my advice.

I told her that if you change your method of contraception, or you have an imbalance of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, your menstrual cycle can be disturbed causing the irregular periods. Most of us develop a regular menstrual cycle with around the same length of time between periods which on average last 28 days. But there are some friends I know whose cycles can vary from 24 to 35 days. And some have told me that their menstrual bleeding can last two to seven days.

But, the average is five days.

Nothing’s ever simple for us as women is it? And that includes periods. Irregularity can be caused by eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. Excessive weight loss, extreme thinness or excessive weight gain and obesity, can cause the menstrual cycle to be irregular or even to disappear. And, speaking as the Green Goddess even over-exercising can cause menstruation problems. For example, I’ve found that some very physically active women such as ballet dancers and athletes find that when they train excessively their periods become very irregular. This is due to putting strain on their body which uses up energy trying to survive, but of course menstruation also requires energy! Add to this thyroid malfunctions; stress; emotional problems and birth-control pills there are a myriad number of issues which can sometimes affect the frequency of periods – even!! Who can win?

But, for most of us menopause usually happens when we’re in our late 40’s or early 50’s, and occurs when all of our eggs have been used up bringing ovulation to an end. I remember leading up to my menopause that ovulation became sporadic signalling changes in my body’s hormone levels. So, this can also be the cause of irregular periods, which for some of us can start as early as 10 years before actual menopause sets in. Problems with the pelvic organs (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome) can also result in periods becoming irregular. A stop of menstruation or irregularity could be due to a condition called “premature ovarian failure” resulting in a woman stopping her periods before the age 40. Some women who have had treatment for cancer may also find their periods disrupted due to radiation, surgery or chemotherapy.

So all in all nature isn’t kind to us women – but irregular periods shouldn’t be a worry – there will be a reason. Don’t forget, I told my friend, if in doubt ask your doctor. Better to be safe with knowledge!

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