Menstrual irregularities

The term menstrual irregularity applies to a variety of recurring menstrual disorders, including menstrual cycles that are too short, too long or irregular, and bleeding that is too heavy, too weak or irregular.

Overview

The term menstrual irregularity applies to a variety of recurring menstrual disorders, including menstrual cycles that are too short, too long or irregular, and bleeding that is too heavy, too weak or irregular. The causes are highly diverse, and can include hormones and stress. Keeping a menstrual calendar makes it easier to identify changes.

Symptoms

  • Different and recurrent irregularities (anomalies) in the monthly period and cycle
    • Intensity (too week, too heavy, variable)
    • Duration (too short, too long, variable)
    • Frequency (doesn't occur, too seldom, too often, irregular)
  • Normal cycles are 25 to 31 days (they are mostly stable and regular after puberty), with 3 to 7 days of bleeding
  • Menstrual irregularities are sometimes accompanied by menstrual disorders (some symptoms can occur simultaneously)
  • Irregularities are normal during puberty and menopause (and as such don't qualify as menstrual irregularities)
  • Anaemia as a result of too frequent, too long or too heavy periods
    • Paleness, fatigue
    • Reduced physical and mental performance

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Contraceptive coil in uterus (womb)
  • Effect of hormones
  • Medicine
    • In particular psychotropic drugs
    • Anticoagulant medication
  • Psychological factors
    • Stress, sorrow, anorexia
    • Fear of falling pregnant
    • Urgent desire to have children
  • Physical stress
    • Competitive or extreme sports
    • Going hungry, pronounced weight loss or weight gain
  • Disorders of the thyroid or adrenal glands, diabetes
  • Inflammation or tumour in the womb (cervix carcinoma, uterus carcinoma, myoma)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Gynaecological examination
  • Blood test (focus falls on hormones)
  • Ultrasound (sonography)
Possible therapies
  • Medication
    • Hormone preparations
    • Herbal medicines (phytopharmaceuticals; it’s important to consult a doctor about their side-effects and interaction with other medicines)
  • Psychological counselling
  • Surgery, if necessary
  • Often the causes can't be treated (focus falls on treating the symptoms)

What can I do myself?

  • Healthy lifestyle
    • Balanced diet
    • Regular exercise
    • Avoid stress
    • Avoid being under- or overweight
    • Competitive or extreme sports can cause or worsen menstrual irregularities
  • Keeping a menstrual calendar makes it easier to identify changes

When to see a doctor?

  • Noticeably frequent or heavy periods, paleness and fatigue
  • Bleeding continues for more than 10 days
  • Very painful periods (dysmenorrhoea), in particular if accompanied by stomach cramps
  • Unusual changes to the monthly cycle, recurrent menstruation irregularities
  • Bleeding or discharge has an unusual colour (brownish, meat-coloured)
  • Contact bleeding during intercourse
  • Every instance of bleeding after menopause
  • Unsuccessful in trying to fall pregnant

Synonyms

menstruation irregularity, menstrual disorder

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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