Always had an irregular period since your younger days? Or did you recently experience a change in your menstrual cycle that feels abnormal?
Many people hesitate and procrastinate when it comes to seeing a doctor for problems related to their periods until they start trying to conceive (unsuccessfully), or their symptoms worsen.
I have many patients who only seek medical advice only after dealing with irregular periods for many years.
Here are 7 reasons why you should never ignore your irregular periods and how they can lead to long-term consequences in your life!
1. Problems With Conceiving
An irregular menstrual cycle may be the most tell-tale sign that you may encounter difficulties with conceiving later in life!
This is because girls with irregular periods tend not to ovulate regularly.
Without monthly ovulation, it would be difficult for fertilization to occur and hence pregnancy becomes more difficult to achieve.
On the contrary, irregular menses may also be a sign of pregnancy.
Some girls may not even realize they are pregnant, especially if they have irregular periods as it becomes normal for them not to get their period.
What they may perceive as a ‘light period’ or irregular bleeding may actually be vaginal spotting in pregnancy that they may not realize!
3. Thyroid Problems
Your thyroid gland is an organ that is located in the neck region. The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in producing important hormones that are required to regulate your metabolism and heart rate amongst several other things.
Thyroid disease can manifest in an over-active thyroid gland, or an underactive thyroid. Any abnormal production of the thyroid hormone can lead to several imbalances in your metabolism and organ function, including your monthly periods.
While abnormal thyroid problems may be accompanied by additional symptoms such as weight gain or loss, heat or cold intolerance etc, irregular menses may sometimes be the only obvious symptom!
4. Brain Tumour
A tumour growing in the pituitary gland (a small structure in the brain) may also lead to irregular periods.
This is because pituitary tumours, most commonly, Prolactinomas, produce excess levels of the hormone Prolactin. This will interfere with the balance of the other female hormones in your body, which will hence lead to irregular periods.
5. Premature Menopause
An average woman undergoes natural menopause between the ages of 45 to 55 years old.
Women who experience menopause before the age of 40 are deemed to have premature menopause or premature ovarian failure.
Premature menopause usually manifests as irregular periods or no periods at all. It is crucial for premature menopause to be diagnosed as it can lead to other long-term problems such as osteoporosis.
6. Womb Cancer
Having irregular periods mean you do not ovulate regularly as well. This is known as an “anovulatory cycle”.
Anovulatory cycles and irregular periods can increase your risk of womb cancer as it promotes excessive growth and thickening of your womb lining.
Your risk is increased if you are overweight.
7. Increased Risk Of Diabetes And Heart Disease
Irregular menses has been well established to be associated with a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is one of the most common causes of irregular periods especially in younger girls.
Having PCOS can increase your risk of metabolic syndrome, which includes diabetes, cholesterol problems and heart disease. This is especially so if you are overweight.