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Women's Health

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Treating Irregular Periods

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Menstruation is the time of month when the womb (uterus) sheds its lining and vaginal bleeding occurs. This is known as a menstrual period.

Periods vary widely from woman to woman. Some periods are punctual, some are unpredictable. On average, a woman gets her period every 21 to 35 days. A period usually lasts about three to five days. Irregular periods may require treatment.

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What Are Irregular Periods?

You may have irregular periods if:

  • The time between each period starts to change.
  • You are losing more or less blood during a period than usual.
  • The number of days that your period lasts varies.

There are different names for different types of irregular periods:

  • Oligomenorrhea refers to infrequent periods. The time between periods is typically 35 days or more. Women with oligomenorrhea have fewer than six to eight periods a year.
  • Metrorrhagia refers to irregular but frequent periods.
  • Menometrorrhagia refers to longer or heavier periods that are irregular but frequent.
  • Amenorrhea refers to an absence of periods for three to six months or longer.

Do Irregular Periods Need Treatment?

Treatment of irregular periods depends on the cause and your desire to have children in the future. Irregular periods can be caused by many different things. Changes in your body's level of the hormones estrogen and progesterone can disrupt the normal pattern of your period. That's why young girls going through puberty and women approaching menopause commonly have irregular periods.

Other common causes of irregular periods include:

How Are Irregular Periods Treated?

Usually, no treatment is needed for irregular periods caused by puberty and menopause unless they are excessive or bothersome. It is also normal for your period to stop when you are pregnant.

Treatments for irregular periods due to other causes may include:

  • Correcting or treating underlying disease
  • Changing your type of birth control
  • Lifestyle changes, including weight loss
  • Hormone therapy
  • Surgery
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