Irregular and Abnormal Periods
Some women experience extremely long menstrual cycles, or those that are further than 31 days apart. Long menstrual cycles are commonly referred to as abnormal, although it may not be abnormal for you if your cycle is consistent.
An irregular menstrual cycle is one that varies from month to month; for instance, you have a menstrual cycle that is 26 days long one month and 31 days the next month, or vice versa. Stress, tension, medication, and caffeine can result in an irregular menstrual cycle. Caffeine interrupts the purpose of the corpus leuteum and acts as a blood thinner, yet another reason to drink beverages containing caffeine only in moderation. Smoking cigarettes is another surprising affecter of menstrual cycles. The toxin produced by heavy smoking abbreviates the follicular phase and can reduce the duration of the luteal phase. If you are a heavy drinker, you could also see irregular menstrual cycles as a result.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, causes irregular menstrual cycles since it creates an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive hormones. PCOS also causes significant increases in the amount of hormones called androgens, which are typically seen in men. Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome usually do not ovulate; they tend to develop small cysts instead of releasing mature eggs.
Your healthcare professional will review your medical history and perform a physical exam to try and determine a cause for irregular menstrual cycles. Blood tests, ultrasounds, or a biopsy may be ordered to rule out anything major. The main reason a woman has irregular menstrual cycles is a hormonal imbalance, which is both easy to treat and easy to cure using a hormone-containing birth control pill for a short amount of time. Once your menstrual cycle is regulated, your healthcare professional may allow you to stop using the pill and try to conceive once again, if that is your goal.