Some kind of menstrual irregularity, often accompanied by pain in lower abdomen is one of the most common presenting complaints for a gynecologist.
Irregular period is generally a symptom of some hormonal imbalance (estrogen and progesterone) in the body and is commonly encountered in young girls at the time of menarche (time when a girl starts to have menstrual cycle) and around menopause. Menstrual irregularity can also be seen immediately after child birth or after removal of intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD). Other common causes include thyroid gland dysfunctions, presence of fibroids or polyps inside the uterus and excessive stress, including examination stress.
It is important to know a few more important details in order to evaluate and understand the same and make any recommendations. These include-
- Duration of menstrual irregularity
- Kind of irregularity- interval between two cycles, amount of blood flow and no of days of flow.
- Any associated pain in lower abdomen.
- Associated weight gain, growth of excessive facial hair or discharge from nipples.
Early assessment of menstrual disorders also requires an ultrasound scan of lower abdomen to assess condition of uterus and ovaries, specifically to rule out polycystic ovaries (read more about PCOS here), and estimation of following hormone levels in the body – TSH, FSH, LH, Prolactin and testosterone. These blood tests should be done on the second or third day of the periods.
The women experiencing menstrual irregularities should try and manage their weight so as to maintain a BMI of less than 25 Kg/M2. Healthy lifestyle including intake of balanced diet, moderate exercise and avoiding any stress are very useful simple steps every woman can take on their own. In cases with severe irregularity, the woman may be required to get rid of the IUCD, start a birth control pill to regulate the sex hormone levels during cycle and treatment for thyroid dysfunctions, if required.
You can consult with me for more information or treatment for menstrual disorders.
Dr Parul Katiyar