Doctor's answers on irregular periods
A worried reader asks Dr Dana Elliott Srither on how to deal with irregular menses.
"I am a healthy woman and have regularly had my menses on the 28th day of my new cycle. Ever since I got married last year, age 30, my cycle has become irregular. It ranges from every 34-42 days. Upon consulting my doctor, she recommended me to go on hormone pills. I have yet to try it."
Could you advise on the following?
a) How am I supposed to calculate my ovulation if my cycle is incorrect every month?
b) How to increase the chances of me getting pregnant?
c) What food & drink should I avoid?
d) Is the hormone pill safe to consume?
e) Will there be any side effect of the pills?
c) For how long should I continue with the tablets?
d) How to make my cycle balance back?
Answer: Irregular menstrual cycle has become common problem among women today. It is found that one out of every five women suffer with this problem. There are several reasons for a menstrual cycle to become irregular.
Fluctuation in periods indicates the beginning of disturbance in the natural chain of hormonal events that manage menstruation. Possible causes include smoking and alcohol.
The other common responsible factors for irregular menses are: significant weight gain or loss, over-exercise, breastfeeding, polycystic ovarian syndrome/estrogen dominance, poor nutrition, medications, eating disorders, hormonal imbalance, recent childbirth, miscarriage or uterine abnormalities (fibroids/cysts/polyps/endometriosis).
The occasional skipped menses cycle is not the only symptom of this problem. However, continued abnormality in period is also an indication of irregular ovulation and irregular menstrual cycle. See your doctor if this continues for a long time.
As irregular menses is treated according to the cause, it is determined with a blood test, ultrasound and biopsy.
Often hormonal imbalance will be the major cause for irregular menses, which can be treated with appropriate drugs or hormones. Surgical removal of polyps or fibroids may also be done, if required.
Treatment for irregular menses is also based on your plan for children. If you decide to have pregnancy, then a hormonal contraceptive or supplement will be prescribed to regulate your menstrual cycles.
Never get tense regarding slight change or variation in your regular menstrual period. More than 50 percent of healthy women have the problem of short-term irregular menstrual cycle.
One way to determine your fertile period is to use your body’s physiological changes during your normal menstrual cycle. The easiest is to monitor your temperature daily to determine your basal temperature. Your fertile period starts when your morning temperature reading shows an increase over your basal norm.
The other way is to observe your vaginal fluid. As you enter your fertile period, the cervical fluid becomes more gelatinous and transparent. This is to allow easier sperm mobility during this fertile period.
Some people say that you cannot take cool things or spicy food to increase your chance of pregnancy is a myth.
Adverse effects of taking hormonal contraceptives include nausea, breast tenderness, breakthrough bleeding, amenorrhea, and headaches. A few months of delay of normal ovulatory cycles may occur after discontinuation of oral contraceptives.
Possible long-term effects include venous thrombosis, hypertension, Atherogenesis and stroke, hepatocellular adenoma, and cancers (breast and cervical).
A site where you can record your cycles can be found at http://monthlyinfo.com.