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24 February 2011

Irregular periods

Very few women simply suddenly stop menstruating. The cycles generally become more irregular in length as the menopause approaches.

It's called a monthly cycle, and it more or less is: most women average 11 to 13 periods a year. If that's your norm, any change means something has shifted.

  • If there is a sudden halt to your periods, the most common cause is pregnancy.
  • If the interval between periods has lengthened you could be headed for menopause. Fluctuating levels of hormones deriving from the ovaries and pituitary gland (hormone-controlling gland in the brain) go hand in hand with a decreased frequency of ovulation. The time span leading up to menopause is a gradual process of the ovaries going into retirement. The irregularity may last for two or three years before menstruation finally ceases. When no bleeding has occurred for one year, the menopausal transition is said to have occurred.

Other causes

  • Your last menstrual period?
  • What day did it start? Was it normal?
  • Do you have regular cycles, such as a period every 21 to 45 days?
  • How old were you when your periods began?
  • Are you sexually active?
  • What type of birth control are you using? How long have you been using it?
  • Have you missed any birth control pills or failed to have your hormonal injection according to schedule?
  • Have you been under increased physical or emotional stress?
  • Have you recently changed your diet or exercise habits?
  • Have you recently gained or lost weight?
  • What prescription and non-prescription medicines are you taking? Are you using illegal drugs?
  • Do you have any health risks?

 
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