I am a 21-year-old woman. I used to have regular periods and the flow would be heavy during the first two days.
But for the past two years or so, my menstrual cycles have been irregular.
My periods now come every two to three months.
I have also noticed that the flow of the menstrual blood is less than half of what I had before.
Should I consult a doctor?
Is there any natural remedy I can try?
Will having irregular periods affect my fertility and chances of having a baby in the future?
Regular menstruation is linked to a normal hormonal cycle, in which a mature egg is released (ovulation) in the middle of the menstrual cycle.
Irregular menses, therefore, could be a sign of problems with ovulation.
Several conditions can cause problems with ovulation, such as sudden weight gain or weight loss, stress, over-dieting or excessive exercise and thyroid problems.
Other reasons include a small pituitary tumour (the pituitary is a small gland in the brain that secretes hormones) and polycystic ovarian disease, in which ovulation becomes faulty.
Given that the problems that can cause irregular periods range from minor to serious ones, it may be prudent to seek medical advice, especially if you experience some of the following symptoms.
Heat intolerance, irritability and rapid heart rate point to excessive thyroid hormones in the body.
Meanwhile, malaise, weight gain and cold intolerance suggest the opposite - insufficient thyroid hormones.
Headaches, hallucinations and nipple discharge may mean that you have a pituitary tumour.
Natural remedies include avoiding stress and over-dieting, keeping a normal body weight and following a normal exercise schedule.
Polycystic ovarian disease is a common reason for irregular periods. Women with this condition have many small follicles, or cysts, located at the periphery of their ovaries.
They also have a slightly higher level of male hormones in the body, which is associated with acne and hirsutism (excessive body hair).
On top of this, some may also suffer from obesity and hormonal imbalance that resemble the symptoms of diabetes.
Problems with ovulation can definitely affect fertility.
If you have irregular periods and are trying to conceive, you should see a fertility specialist because problems with ovulation can be quite easily treated to help you achieve a successful pregnancy.
DR LOH SEONG FEEI,
medical director at
Thomson Fertility Centre
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