Abnormal Menstruation: Types, Causes & Treatment

Periods are a normal and undetachable part of women's lives. They come and go monthly, and for most women, they're not a problem. However, some women don't have regular periods or experience other symptoms during their menstrual cycle that make them worry about the health of their reproductive organs or overall well-being. This article explores what types of abnormal menstruation exist and what causes them, as well as tips on how to treat irregular periods - including when you should seek medical attention.

Dr Disha Sridhar Gynaecologist Obstetrician ( MD, DNB OBGYN)

Dr Disha Sridhar

I am a Gynaecologist Obstetrician ( MD, DNB OBGYN) with an emphasis on INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE.

period calander with feminine products

What is Abnormal Menstruation? 

Abnormal menstruation (also known as irregular periods), is any type of period that does not follow the normal pattern.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycle, which means having a variation in your menstrual cycle from one month to another. For example, if you normally have a 28-day cycle, and this month it was 32 days long instead.
  • Heavy or light bleeding during menstruation. This can occur if you experience a sudden change in blood flow (e.g., after childbirth) or when bleeding more than usual for no apparent reason at all! It's important to note here that jet-black discharge may indicate something else entirely, such as an infection, so try contacting your doctor right away if this happens.
  • Longer than usual duration between periods. some women have abnormal period cycles lasting up to six weeks without needing any intervention, while others might go through what's called "luteal phase defect" where ovulation fails due to low levels of progesterone—this condition can result in extremely irregular periods which are painful too.

Irregular menstruation is often referred to as "menstrual irregularities" or "irregular menstrual cycles." This condition is characterized by variations in the length of menstrual cycles, the amount of blood flow, or the duration of menstrual periods. Irregular menstruation may involve cycles that are shorter or longer than the typical 28 days, as well as unpredictable patterns in the occurrence of menstruation.

Menstruation Cycle Phases

Menstruation cycle phases

The menstrual cycle is divided into many phases that are regulated by hormonal changes in a woman's body. The usual menstrual cycle lasts approximately 28 days, though this can vary from person to person. Here are the major phases of the menstrual cycle:

  • Follicular Phase (Days 1-14): This phase starts on the first day of your period. Under the influence of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), several follicles begin to mature in the ovaries. Typically one dominant follicle will continue to grow and release an egg. Estrogen levels rise during this phase.
  • Ovulation (Day 14): The mature egg is released from the dominant follicle. This usually occurs around day 14 of a 28-day cycle, but can vary from woman to woman.
  • Luteal Phase (Days 15-28): After ovulation, the remaining follicle turns into a structure called the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone. Progesterone prepares the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg. If fertilization does not occur, progesterone and estrogen levels drop, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and menstruation begins again.
  • Menstruation (Days 1-5): The uterine lining sheds through the vagina. Bleeding typically lasts around 5 days. This marks the beginning of a new cycle.

The length of each phase and the entire cycle can vary between women. Stress, diet, exercise and other factors can impact the menstrual cycle. On average, a woman has her period every 28 days, but cycles between 21-35 days are still considered normal.

Types of Abnormal Menstruation or Period

types of abnormal menstruation

Irregular menstruation is a broad term that encompasses various conditions, each with its own specific name based on the nature of the irregularities. Some common conditions associated with irregular menstruation include Amenorrhea, Oligomenorrhea, Dysmenorrhea, Menorrhagia, Metrorrhagia, Polymenorrhea, Hypermenorrhea and  Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS):

  • Amenorrhea - When periods are missed or absent. This can result from low estrogen levels, thyroid disorders, pituitary tumours, etc.
  • Oligomenorrhea - Cycles occur >35 days apart. Can be tied to PCOS, thyroid dysfunction, low body weight, stress, etc.
  • Dysmenorrhea - Painful, crampy periods. Caused by prostaglandin imbalance, endometriosis, adenomyosis, STDs, etc.
  • Menorrhagia - Very heavy bleeding during periods. Results from hormonal shifts, uterine abnormalities, blood disorders, etc.
  • Metrorrhagia - Bleeding between regular menstrual cycles. Indicative of hormonal imbalance, thyroid disorders, infection, etc.
  • Polymenorrhea - Cycles occur <21 days apart. Suggests hormone fluctuations, PCOS, pelvic disease, etc.
  • Hypermenorrhea - Very frequent, heavy cycles. Linked to hormonal disorders, liver disease, uterine abnormalities, etc.
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) - Physical and emotional symptoms before period. Caused by estrogen/progesterone imbalance.

If you want to know briefly click on this link and know about types of Abnormal Menstruation

What Causes Abnormal Menstruation/Period ?

Abnormal menstruation can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Hormonal imbalance - Menstrual irregularities may result from a condition that disrupts the balance of hormones in your body. This can happen when you have too much or too little progesterone or estrogen in your blood. 
  • Stress - Periods that are delayed for more than two weeks and menstrual periods that are heavy and painful may be due to stress and anxiety. In this case, it is important to take steps to reduce stress if possible because it's unlikely that taking hormonal contraceptives will help you regulate your menstrual cycle at this point.
  •  Menopause - Stressful events such as childbirth or surgery often cause irregular bleeding during perimenopause (the lengthy transition period before menopause).

However, if changes like these occur suddenly without any previous reason for concern about possible problems with ovulation or hormone levels, then they most likely signify early signs of menopause rather than something else entirely unrelated, such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).

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Symptoms of Abnormal Periods

There are several symptoms that can indicate an abnormal period, such as heavy bleeding, irregular menstrual cycle, bleeding between periods, random spotting, and painful periods (pain may be sharp and localized to the lower abdomen or pelvic area, but it may also radiate through the back and legs). The details are followed below:

1. Irregular Periods

Irregular periods are a common occurrence and not necessarily cause for alarm. However, if you have irregular periods and are concerned about them, it's important to be aware of the signs that might indicate a serious condition. If you have any of these symptoms, it's best to see your doctor:

  • Painful cramps
  • Excessive bleeding (more than normal)
  • Periods lasting longer than seven days

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2. Bleeding Between Periods

If you have bleeding between periods, this is called menorrhagia. It's also very common in women with anemia. Other causes of abnormal bleeding include hormonal imbalances, fibroids, and other conditions that can cause uterine cancer (endometrial hyperplasia) or make it more likely for you to develop fibroids.

Additional factors that may contribute to abnormal vaginal discharge are stress, exercise levels, PCOS, and the amount of sleep you get every night.

3. Heavy or Painful Periods

  • Heavy Bleeding: This can include a heavy flow of blood, clots, and/or spotting between periods.
  • Painful Periods: Periods that are painful to the touch or when you're walking around. Pain during sex is also a common symptom of abnormal periods.
  • Abdominal Pain: or backache (menstrual cramps). Backaches are common during your period and usually only occur for a few days each month; however, if your pain lasts longer than expected or gets worse over time, it could be an indication that something is wrong with your reproductive system (uterus).
  • Leg Pain: or cramps in the thighs and buttocks area may also indicate an underlying health condition such as endometriosis – inflammation of the tissue lining the uterus – adenomyosis –which occurs when endometrial tissue grows into other parts of a woman's uterus – fibroids - benign tumors), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

4. Bleeding After Menopause

Menopause is the time in a woman's life when her menstrual cycle stops, and she stops having periods. Most women experience menopause between ages 45 and 55, but it can happen earlier. As you get older, your ovaries stop producing eggs and make less estrogen (the hormone that regulates your reproductive organs). The lining of your uterus also becomes thinner and less thick. When these changes occur, they can cause bleeding outside of your normal period time frame. In other words, you may have bleeding that is not related to your period at all. This type of abnormal bleeding is called menorrhagia or abnormally heavy menstruation.

Spotting Randomly Throughout Your Cycle After Your Period

This is a sign of pregnancy. A woman's body releases an egg during ovulation, which begins the menstrual cycle. After ovulation, this egg has 24 hours to be fertilized by sperm before it dies, and the uterus sheds its lining through menstruation. If an egg isn't fertilized within that time frame, it gets expelled from the body as part of the menstrual flow. If you're pregnant and have no signs of bleeding during this time or spotting afterwards (or if you've missed several periods in a row), then you may want to consider talking with a healthcare provider about getting checked for early pregnancy or miscarriage issues.

How are Irregular Menstrual Periods Diagnosed?

When it comes to diagnosing irregular menstrual periods, you may need to undergo a pelvic exam and/or blood tests.

  • Pelvic Exam: A pelvic exam is performed by your doctor or a gynaecologist (a doctor who specializes in female health issues). During the exam, the doctor will look for signs that indicate something might be wrong with your reproductive organs. She/he will also feel around for lumps or growths in your uterus and ovaries. If they find anything unusual during the exam, they might order additional tests to check for cancerous tumours and other problems associated with abnormal menstrual cycles.
  • Blood Tests: Your doctor may order a blood test or urine test to determine whether there's an imbalance of hormones causing your periods not to occur regularly—known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This condition can cause irregular menstruation along with other symptoms like excess hair growth on the face and chest area, acne breakouts, headaches, depression, anxiety disorders, oily skin, and dandruff.

What are the Treatment Options for Irregular Menstrual?

  • Treatment depends on the cause of an abnormal period.
  • Non-hormonal birth control
  • Hormonal birth control
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Surgical removal of polyps or uterine fibroids
  • Lifestyle changes (such as eating, sleeping, and exercising)

You may need to try a few different treatment options before you find one that works for you. If your irregular periods are caused by other health issues, like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), your doctor may prescribe medications to treat that condition first. Never follow self-medication without consulting your doctor. It may worsen your condition.

When Should You Seek Medical Attention for Abnormal Menstruation?

You must see your doctor if you have a fever, severe pain, or heavy bleeding. If you have severe cramps lasting more than 12 hours with little or no relief from over-the-counter pain medications, this may be another sign of an underlying health condition.

If your period suddenly starts lasting longer than usual, becomes abnormally heavy, or if you experience sudden mood swings or weight gain during your period, that too could mean something isn't right with your body. Many women have experienced some form of an abnormal period. It's best to consult a doctor for expert advice and treatment.

Treating Irregular Periods

Best Integrative Treatment in Bangalore for Treating Irregular Periods

Women all over the world experience menstrual irregularities and abnormalities. While many women have no problems with their periods, others may experience pain, heavy bleeding, or spotting between periods. In some cases, these problems can be serious and require immediate medical attention. It's best to consult with a doctor if you're experiencing any of these symptoms so that they can offer expert advice on what treatment options are right for you. Dr Disha Sridhar is one of the best gynaecologists in Bangalore for treating Irregular Periods. She has expertise in INTEGRATIVE FEMALE GYNAECOLOGY AND REPRODUCTIVE ENDOCRINOLOGY" and treats issues related to women's hormones, periods, fertility, and pregnancy.

"She uses both conventional and alternative methods to cure PCOS and infertility cases. Even though she uses pharmaceuticals for treatment she always prefers natural approaches first to treat PCOS naturally. With the Truhealing protocol, hundreds of women have healed their period problems and fertility issues for good.

"Contact her for all your PCOS and infertility-related issues". You can also visit her official website https://www.truhealing.com/" to know about her or to book an online appointment.

"Consult with Dr. Disha" for all your OBGYN "problems

Dr. Disha offers comprehensive, integrative, state-of-the-art gynaecological and obstetrical medical care for women throughout the life cycle.

Call +91 9980182168 / +91 8792201157  now to speak to her!

Frequently Asked Questions about Abnormal Menstruation

Q. When is Bleeding Not Normal?

Ans.  Irregular painful periods and heavy bleeding are not normal.

Q. What Are the Signs of Irregular Menstrual Periods?

Ans. If your periods last longer than 7 days; If your periods become irregular before 45 years of age; and if you have medical conditions like PCOS, these are the signs of irregular periods.

Q. What Causes Irregular Menstrual Periods?

Ans. Causes of irregular menstruation periods are due to some medication, hormonal imbalance, too much exercise, stress, and PCOS.

Q. Are Irregular Periods a Sign of Infertility?

Ans. Generally, irregular periods account for 30-40 % of infertility.

Q. At What Age do Periods Become Irregular?

Ans. Generally, periods may become irregular at any age before 40, mainly between the early 30s and after the period of adolescence.

Q. What is the Reason for Irregular Periods?

Ans. Hormonal imbalance, stress, eating disorders, and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) are some of the reasons for irregular periods.

Q. Are Irregular Periods Normal?

Ans. Irregular periods are not normal. It may be due to some underlying health conditions like PCOS.

Originally published August 12, 2022

Updated on Jan 9, 2023

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