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One of the most common complaints in women is the one about irregular periods. Like every other menstrual problem, irregular periods are generally benign, as are missed periods, too frequent periods, spotting, or bouts of heavy clotting and bleeding. Most women have missed a period at one point or another. It is estimated that irregular periods affect approximately 30% of all women, in their reproductive years.

What is an irregular period?

Normally, periods happen every 24 to 29 days. However, the exact pace of menstrual cycle varies heavily from one woman to another. Menstrual cycles between 23–35 days are very common. Moreover, depending on the age and stage of woman’s reproductive life, woman may get her period only one to four times a year. Women may even have periods that occur two to three times in a month and involve spotting or extremely heavy flow, or even heavy episodes of bleeding every two to three months. In a nutshell, irregular periods are simply what are irregular for every single woman. In a nut shell, irregular periods are alterations in a woman´s typical menstrual cycle.

What causes irregular periods?

Because the complete menstrual cycle is completely dependent on hormones, any kind of hormonal disturbance affects regularity of periods. A woman´s menstrual cycle cannot be separated from her hormones, because her hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, drive the process.  Many different factors may affect the normal process of hormonal exchange in the body.

Sometimes, irregular periods are indicating the beginning of perimenopause or a disturbance of the natural hormonal levels in woman’s body. Irregular periods are often one of the first signs that a woman is going through menopause. Irregular periods are, in this case, sighs that estrogen and progesterone are starting to decline and the ovaries are preparing to stop the production of these hormones.

Pregnancy is another common cause of missed periods. When a woman is pregnant, her body produces completely different levels of hormones, and the periods are gone for nine long months.

Another significant cause of irregular periods is stress, which affects hormonal levels and may lead to irregularities in menstrual cycle.

A whole set of lifestyle factors such as diet or vigorous exercises, may also contribute to change in hormonal levels.

Furthermore irregular periods may occur as an effect of taking cyclical hormone therapy, having a hysterectomy, or associated with post menstrual bleeding. Post menstrual bleeding is bleeding after menopause that occurs in women who are not taking hormone replacement therapy. This kind of irregularity may indicate serious health problems and demands immediate medical attention.

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