Reproductive health is something I personally don’t take for granted. After having ovarian cysts and endometriosis, I started paying close attention to any irregularities in my period, also as advised by my OB-GYN. This is also why I often tell friends to get checked whenever they talk about months-long irregular periods.
A normal cycle happens every month, around 21 to 35 days apart, and periods usually last for two to seven days. Each woman has different durations for their red days, but you should find it weird when you start bleeding for more than a week and/or experiencing your next cycle after six months to a year.
Irregular menstruation can be caused by various factors like pregnancy, poor sleeping schedules, a change in diet, and chronic stress. However, you shouldn’t ignore it once it happens way too often. As much as it’s a relief to skip your period for months (trust me, I know), it’s concerning because you might have the following conditions already:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that’s common among females as young as 15 years old. Mayo Clinic explained, “Women with this common endocrine system disorder may have irregular periods as well as enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid—called follicles—located in each ovary as seen during an ultrasound exam.” Additionally, a telling sign you may have this condition is you have fewer periods in a year, periods come 21 days or more, or you stop having periods altogether.
The thyroid is a hormone that helps control one’s menstrual cycle. Having too much or too little of it can cause you to have light to excessively heavy bleeding. But when you have amenorrhea, a thyroid disease, it will stop your period for several months.
Premature ovarian failure
Premature ovarian failure is when your ovaries’ function stops before you turn 40. This is also referred to as “early menopause” because females as young as 15 will experience menopausal symptoms like having no periods, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness.
There are also cases wherein women have prolonged periods—meaning they bleed for more than a week. Again, this shouldn’t be ignored and they may be caused by:
These are non-cancerous lumps found on the uterus that can cause heavy periods, the constant urge to pee, and abdominal cramps. You might not be able to feel any of the lumps immediately so it’s best to have a doctor check with an ultrasound.
Endometriosis is when a tissue called the endometrium is growing outside the ovary instead of lining it inside. Aside from having periods for a prolonged amount if time, it also gives you intense abdominal pain. To give you perspective: Before I got surgery, I used to have two painful periods in a month, and had abdominal cramps even when I’m not menstruating.
Regardless if you have poor sleeping habits or experiencing some of the reproductive symptoms above, it’s always best to get a doctor’s opinion regarding your irregular periods. That way, they can check you for any problems and prescribe medication to balance out your hormones. Don’t wait for the complications to get worse.
And if you’re feeling nervous about going to an OB-GYN, you can always bring a close companion. You don’t have to go through this ordeal alone.
Art by Marian Hukom
For the latest in culture, fashion, beauty, and celebrities, subscribe to our weekly newsletter here
We now know the cause of PCOS, so here are other facts about it
Our quirky relationship with menstruation and menopause
A documentary about menstruation just won an Oscar
I got ovarian cysts at 16 and it taught me the importance of contraceptives