Metrorrhagia is the medical term for irregular periods. If your period varies more than 8 days from your expected menstruation date, then you may be experiencing an irregular cycle.
A regular menstrual cycle lasts 26 to 29 days. For some women menstrual cycles can range from 23 to 35 days while others menstruate only once or four times in a year. Two to three periods in a month have also been reported. Heavy bleeding and spotting during menstruation can be normal for some women. Some may menstruate regularly while others have never had a regular period. Menstrual cycles differ from woman to woman. Your cycle becomes irregular only when you notice a new irregular pattern in your cycle length.
If you period becomes irregular for a cycle or two and then returns to normal, there is probably nothing to worry about. Any irregularities including spotting and clotting are caused by hormonal imbalances. If you notice that your period does not regulate after 3 months you should have it checked.
Causes of Irregular Periods
- Substantial weight gain/loss
- Over exercise
- Unhealthy diet (substantially high carbohydrate content in diet)
- Unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, drugs, caffeine, alcohol)
- Too much stress
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Other anomalies in the uterus (fibroids, endometriosis, cysts)
- Prescription drugs
Irregular periods may affect your chances of pregnancy. Predicting ovulation is hard when you have an irregular menstrual cycle. Ovulation may occur earlier than expected. It may even occur while you are still menstruating.
Commonly prescribed drugs for metrorrhagia are anti-inflammatories and oral contraceptives.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) block the formation of prostacyclin. Prostacyclin speeds up platelet aggregation and initiates blood clotting. This action may decrease menstrual blood flow. NSAIDs can be taken on the first 5 days of the menstrual cycle. Stomach irritation is a common NSAIDs side effect.
Combination oral contraceptive pills (COCPs) are used for excessive menstrual bleeding. They contain both estrogen and progestin. Common side effects are nausea, significant weight gain, breast tenderness and even breakthrough bleeding.
Natural medicine treatment
Alternatives to drugs, for irregular periods include herbs like Astralagus, Cotton root bark, Lady’s mantle, Rosemary, Dong Quai, Bayberries and Black haw bark .
- Before ovulation, take ¼ to 1 teaspoon (2-4 ml) of Lady’s mantle or Rosemary extract.
- After ovulation, take a ¼ to 1 teaspoon (2-4 ml) of Astralagus extract three times a day.
- During your menstrual cycle, take ¼ to 1 teaspoons (1-2 ounces) of Bayberry extract three times a day. Black haw bark extract, Cranesbill extract or Red clover extract are all good alternatives to Bayberry extract.
- Dong quai extract can be taken throughout the cycle – take 1/2 to 2 teaspoons a day.
Natural treatment for irregular periods has little to no side effects and is effective if administered properly. Herbal preparations can provide symptom relief as well as treat the cause. However never self-prescribe herbal remedies, always seek advice from a qualified naturopath.
Do you get irregular periods? Have you used natural treatments to regulate your cycle? Would love to hear your thoughts!
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology Education Pamphlet.17 February 2011
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