It is not unusual to have irregular periods. About 30% of women have them. Irregular periods are sometimes early and sometimes late in an unpredictable manner.
What is a regular period anyway?
Before we can talk about irregular periods, we should define exactly what a regular period is. It usually occurs every 28 or 30 days and lasts anywhere from 3 to 7 days. Every woman's cycle is a bit different. You may get your period every 21 days or every 35 days, but as long as they occur with roughly the same number of days between each cycle, they are regular.
How do irregular periods happen?
Irregular Periods occur when hormone levels are thrown out of sync. The glands affected with the process of menstruation include the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the ovaries. This is often referred to as the HPO Axis.
Irregular menstruation is generally related to disruptions in the balance of hormones. Delayed periods may be signals that ovulation has not occurred and, consequently, that the endometrial lining has grown thicker. Delayed periods usually involve heavier bleeding due to this increased thickness. Lighter periods or bleeding between periods may arise when hormone levels are not sufficient to nourish the endometrial lining.
Some causes of irregular periods:
- Poor diet
- Intense exercise
- Perimenopause (close to menopause) / Menopause
- Weight gain or Weight loss
- Pelvic infection
- Uterine polyps
- Uterine cancer / Uterine abnormalities
- Dysfunctional bleeding
Most doctors will put a woman with irregular periods on the contraceptive pill. This will regulate menstrual cycles but unfortunately does not treat the root cause of the irregularity. Consequently, when a woman discontinues the pill, the irregularity will most likely return. What happens is that the pill tricks the body into thinking that it is pregnant and does not allow for ovulation. No egg is released from the ovary and pregnancy cannot occur. Essentially, the hormones override the body's natural hormone balance.
An irregular cycle is always due to an imbalance of the liver and kidneys according to Traditional Acupuncture Medicine. "It is the rhythmic ebb and flow of blood and essence that give rise to periods".
Emotional stress causes the liver Qi (or energy) to stagnate causing blockages in the body. The liver is referred to as the "woman's organ" as it stores the blood and is the main organ responsible for the menstruation. Anger, frustration, tension, and anxiety all will have an effect on the liver organ as it is also in charge of the emotions. As one of the functions of the liver is to promote Qi flow through the body, emotional stress leads to blockages in the meridian system resulting in organ imbalance.
Overwork can lead to a deficiency in the kidney system. The kidney system is involved in reproduction and development. As far as the meridian system goes, the kidneys and uterus are directly connected. If there is a deficiency in the kidney system, this causes the uterus to become depleted leading to irregular periods.