Menstrual cycle is the monthly series of changes a woman’s body goes through in preparation for the possibility of pregnancy. Menstruation (a period) is a major stage of puberty in girls. It is one of the many physical signs that a girl is turning into a woman. Each month, one of the ovaries releases an egg — a process called ovulation. At the same time, hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If ovulation takes place and the egg isn’t fertilized by a sperm the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is a menstrual period. When you also get close to menopause, you might experience menstrual irregularities.
The menstrual cycle is the span from the first day of one menstrual period to the first day of the next. It is not the same for every woman. The menstrual flow might occur every 21 to 35 days and can last two to seven days. For the first few years after menstruation begins, long cycles are common. However, menstrual cycles tend to shorten and become more regular as you age.
Your menstrual cycle might be regular — about the same length every month — or somewhat irregular. Similarly, your period might be light or heavy, painful or pain-free, long or short, and still be considered as normal for you.
It is important to know that certain types of contraception, such as birth control pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs), will alter your menstrual cycle. However, since the risk of uterine cancer increases as you age, discuss any irregular bleeding around menopause with your health care provider.
CAUSES OF PROLONGED MENSTRUAL CYCLE
These factors extend the menstrual cycle for more than 35 days or cause menstrual irregularities. They are;
Pregnancy or breastfeeding: A missed period can be an early sign of pregnancy. Breastfeeding typically delays the return of menstruation after pregnancy.
Stress: This affects the hormone balance of the body. A major change of environment, death in the family, huge breakup, or any other life event that is shaking you up can be the cause of your late period or missed period.
Extreme weight loss or excessive exercising; Nature has a way of protecting you from getting pregnant if your body is under such extreme stress. This can result into extreme weight loss. Working out excessively without taking enough calories can cause disruptions in the hormonal balance of the body.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); Women with this common endocrine system disorder may have irregular periods as well as enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid. They also have hormonal imbalance and thus their menstrual cycle is prolonged.
Premature ovarian failure; Premature ovarian failure refers to the loss of normal ovarian function before age 40. Women who have premature ovarian failure — also known as primary ovarian insufficiency — might have irregular or occasional periods for years.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID); These are sexually transmitted infections of the upper reproductive organs which can cause irregular menstrual bleeding.
Illness; presence of an acute or chronic illness can affect and cause a delay in the menstrual cycle. it is a form of stress to the body and it alters the hormone balance of the body.
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CAUSES OF EXCESSIVE AND FREQUENT BLEEDING
Uterine fibroid and polyps: These are noncancerous growths of the uterus. They can cause heavy and frequent menstrual periods. Menstrual periods in this condition can exceed a week.
Dysfunctional uterine bleeding: DUB indicates a hormone dysfunction. Therefore, it can impact the uterine lining’s stability and lead to irregular, heavy, or prolonged menstrual bleeding.
Bleeding disorder: This is a condition that affects the way your blood normally clots e.g. von Willebrand disease, haemophilia, vitamin K deficiency and side effects from certain medications .
Thyroid disorder: An increase in the level of thyroid hormone in the body can lead to heavy menstruation and increased frequency.
Cancer of the female reproductive system.
MANAGEMENT OF MENSTRUAL IRREGULARITIES
It is important for you to visit your health care provider before you make your conclusions. Ensure you do not use the treatment of another affected friend because treatment is usually individualized. The following treatments can be given to you by your doctor:
- Medications to regulate the menstrual cycle or correct underlying cause of menstrual irregularity.
- Hysterectomy. This is the surgical removal of the uterus. This is more common in older women who have completed their family size or when the excessive bleeding can lead to the death of the person
- Endometrial ablation. This is the surgical removal or burning of the uterine lining
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