Menopause - Irregular Periods
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Women experience irregular periods due to the changing hormone levels. This may be first clue that menopause is close at hand. Periods may stop suddenly, or gradually get lighter or heavier and then stop.
During the perimenopause, menstrual flow may alter in both volume and duration. Changes in the length of bleeding and the length of the cycle happen in women around the age of 40. Often the first sign is that the cycle changes and actually shortens. Such alterations indicate changes taking place control mechanisms between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.
Erratic and irregular menstrual bleeding is often heavy and may require medical attention to bring it under control. Simple medication is usually sufficient, but possible causes other than menopause need to be ruled out. Such possible causes include polyps or fibroids.
Very rarely dysfunctional bleeding can be a sign of abnormal thickening of the lining of the uterus which can lead to uterine cancer. Uterine cancer is extremely rare in women under 50.
Common symptoms of irregular periods:
- Infrequent/too frequent periods
- Missed Periods
- Painful cramping
- Abnormal duration of bleeding
- Changes in blood flow
- Blood clots
Causes of Irregular Periods
Several factors can cause irregular periods, but for women approaching menopause, the most likely cause is fluctuating hormonal levels experienced typically between the ages of 45 and 55. A woman's menstrual cycle cannot be separated from her hormones, because her hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, drive the process. When hormone production begins to taper off, periods often become irregular.
Treatments of Irregular Periods
To treat this problematic symptom, a three-tiered approach to treatment can be utilized. It is recommended to start with the least invasive option, and then work on to more drastic measures if necessary.
Lifestyle changes: Some easy lifestyle tips can help to cope with irregular periods. Leading a sedentary lifestyle or consuming too much caffeine or alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms. Increased stress due to work pressure or family obligations can also increase the severity of irregular periods. By practicing stress-relieving techniques such as yoga or meditation, the incidence of irregular periods can be reduced. See meditation and how to get started. Also 8 Ways to cope with stress and feel better now.
Making sure to receive a good night of rest goes a long way as well. Some simple dietary changes can also be helpful. Increasing the intake of complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and water can help balance the system, making for a smoother cycle.
Alternative Medicine: If coping methods and simple lifestyle changes aren't working and a woman is still experiencing the frustrating symptom of irregular periods, there are further treatment options which are available. Alternative medicines and treatments which address the hormonal imbalance at the source are the most effective method of treatment, particularly when implemented in conjunction with lifestyle changes.
- Drugs and Surgery: For more serious incidences of irregular periods, increasingly drastic measures can be taken, but these should always be undertaken with the help of a medical professional.
Most experts recommend that women who suffer from irregular periods and wish to treat it begin with lifestyle changes, then move onto alternative medicines (ideally combining the two) and finally, look to drugs or surgery if nothing else seems to work.
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