Irregular periods – when should I see a doctor?

The length of a normal menstrual cycle is 24-35 days, but it is common for the length of the cycle to vary quite a lot, especially in young people when their periods begin. For some, this irregularity continuous throughout life, while others may find that the length of their cycle is affected by stressful situations.

If your cycle has long been regular, and you suddenly miss a period, you should take a pregnancy test if pregnancy is a possibility. Other reasons for missed periods include rapid weight loss, obesity, eating disorders, and some gynaecological conditions. Hormonal contraception can also affect the menstrual cycle. Remember that it may take several months for your periods to settle down after starting contraception.

If your periods are disrupted by a stressful situation, such as moving house, changing jobs, or family concerns, it may take longer for them to become regular again. If your cycle is affected because you are underweight or overweight, it can become regular again with a suitable diet and exercise. If weight gain or weight loss indicates an eating disorder, it is important to seek professional help to investigate the situation. Talk to a doctor if there doesn’t seem to be a clear reason for missing a period, if your periods become lengthier, or if you experience indeterminate spotting.

Some of the most common causes for missing periods include an under- or overactive thyroid, which can be diagnosed through blood tests. A gynaecologist can use an ultrasound exam to check for any abnormalities in your ovaries that could disrupt your cycle. Sometimes irregular periods are treated with hormonal medication, which regulates the cycle and, if necessary, can also act as contraception. Ask your doctor or nurse if you have any questions or concerns.



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