Irregular periods are extremely common among women and don’t always signify issues with fertility. However, if the irregularity persists, it may be time to see a physician. Irregular periods are usually characterized by a complete lack of a period (amenorrhea), infrequent periods (oligomenorrhea), or prolonged periods (menorrhagia).
Depending on the type of irregularity you are experiencing, it can mean different things. Here are some details about each type of irregularity:
Amenorrhea is characterized by the absence of menstrual bleeding for three or more months. While missing one period may not be something to be concerned about, missing multiple indicates a lack of ovulation. If your body isn’t ovulating, it may be a sign of infertility.
Oligomenorrhea is characterized by infrequent menstruation and regularly going over 35 days without a period. Oligomenorrhea can be caused simply by switching off birth control or engaging in lots of physical activity. However,oligomenorrhea may be a more serious indication of thyroid issues, diabetes, eating disorder, or PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition thatcan cause infertility due to the overproduction of androgens, the male sex hormones, in the ovaries.
Menorrhagia is characterized by excessively heavy or prolonged periods. A period is usually considered abnormally heavy when a woman has to change her tampon or pad every 1-2 hours. There are many causes of menorrhagia including hormonal imbalances, uterine growths, IUD side effects, ovarian dysfunction, ovarian or cervical cancer, medications, etc. Lots of these causes can contribute to infertility.
If you have an occasional irregular period, it is likely not something you need to stress over. However, consistent irregular periods could indicate fertility concerns and should be evaluated by your physician. If you believe your fertility is at risk, contact Dr. Pinto for a consultation today!
Dr. Anil Pinto is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and the subspecialty of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Dr. Pinto has a special interest in the treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), recurrent pregnancy loss, and advanced reproductive technologies, such as IVF.