If your menstrual cycle is irregular from time to time, it’s probably no big deal. But do you know how to tell if you have reason to be concerned? Your menstrual cycle isn’t always like clockwork. While some women get their periods right on schedule every 28 days, other women’s cycles aren’t so predictable. At least 30 percent of women have irregular periods during their childbearing years. While an irregular cycle is not usually a problem, it can occasionally signal health complications.
A Guide for Irregular Periods in Teens
Why are periods irregular in teens?
Most young women get their first period (known as the ‘menarche’) between the ages of 10 and 15, but this varies between individuals. When you first start having periods, you may notice that your cycle is different each month for the first couple of years after menarche.
Girls going through puberty sometimes skip a period or get an extra bleed during their menstrual cycle. It is also not uncommon for periods during puberty to differ. While some periods may last for as few as a couple of days, other periods may be heavier and last for a week. If you are sexually active and have recently had unprotected sex, a missed period could be a sign of pregnancy. If this applies to you, see you doctor, who will check whether you are pregnant.
Common causes for irregular periods in teens
Many issues can cause irregular periods. It’s more common for women to experience irregular periods at two times in their lives: adolescence, when they first begin to have periods, and pre-menopause, the period of time before menopause. In addition, causes include:
- Uterine fibroids
- Ovulation problems
- Certain birth control methods, such as birth control pills or iuds
- Medical blood disorders
- Pregnancy and pregnancy complications – miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy
- Adenomyosis – the uterine lining, or endometrium, grows into the uterine wall
- Thyroid problems
- Pcos, polycystic ovary syndrome
Excessive exercise, hormonal imbalances and other medications and medical conditions can also cause irregular periods. Lifestyle changes can help correct issues caused by weight fluctuations or too much exercise.
Symptoms of irregular periods in teens
Irregular periods also have symptoms. If you pay attention to your body and how your cycle functions, you can easily spot those symptoms. Here are some signs that a woman should look for to determine if she has irregular periods.
- Periods that last for fewer than four days or more than seven, or periods that occur less than every 32 days or longer than 38 days
- A change in a woman’s usual cycle, varying more than seven to nine days from her norm
- Missing more than three consecutive periods
- Experiencing heavy or lighter flow
- Bleeding or spotting blood either between menstrual periods or after having sex
- Bleeding after menopause occurs
A woman who experiences any of these symptoms should consult with their doctors in order to determine the cause of the problem.
How should diagnose irregular periods in teens?
Since irregular periods can be caused by a broad range of problems and issues, your doctor will draw on all your experience and expertise to make a thorough and informed diagnosis, which enables them to make the best treatment plan for you.
The doctors sometimes ask women to track their periods. They also take a thorough history and perform a physical examination and order blood tests. In addition, some women may require further testing such as:
- Imaging – ultrasound, mri or ct scans
- Minimally invasive surgery options – hysteroscopy, sonohysteroscopy or biopsy
Treatment for irregular periods in teens
Treatment for irregular periods includes a broad range of options. Several types of medications may be employed, including
- Hormonal birth control methods
- Thyroid medications
- Tranexamic acid
- Anti-inflammatory medications and special medications to help blood clot.
- Gynecologic Surgery: Sometimes, medication is not the answer, so one may suggest gynecologic surgery. Virtually all surgery for irregular periods involves minimally invasive surgical techniques that provide a faster recovery and fewer complications than traditional open surgery. These approaches also preserve fertility.
If a teenager has symptoms of irregular periods or experiences painful periods (dysmenorrhea), or pelvic pain, she should contact her doctor to make an appointment.
To conclude, do not be alarmed if you see your periods being irregular. Since you are a teenager, it is mostly normal for your periods to be irregular owing to the hormonal changes. However, if you see something drastic happening, it is always better to consult a doctor. They will be able to guide you accordingly.