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The first step to treat irregular menstrual bleeding is to determine if it is, in fact, irregular. What is normal can be very different from woman to woman. A period is considered abnormal if the menstrual cycle is consistently shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days. If you experience menstrual bleeding for longer than seven days, or if you have very heavy bleeding, this is also something to discuss with your doctor.
After you determine whether or not your cycle is abnormal, see your doctor to determine the cause, because the cause will determine how to treat irregular menstrual bleeding. In some cases, it might be caused by lifestyle. Your menstrual period might be irregular if you are under stress, are not getting enough sleep, are traveling or are exercising or dieting too much. An irregular period also can be caused by changes in medication or birth control. In this case, the way to treat irregular menstrual bleeding is to make the appropriate adjustments to your lifestyle or medication.
Before you visit your doctor, keep track of your menstruation by noting when your bleeding begins and ends as well as the heaviness of your menstrual flow. Also make note of any other symptoms you might have, such as pain or bleeding between periods. Your doctor could determine that an underlying medical condition is causing your irregular menstrual bleeding. It can be caused by any number of conditions, including hormonal imbalance, uterine fibroids or polyps, polycystic ovary disease, thyroid disease, pelvic inflammatory disease or cancer.
When you see your doctor, he or she most likely will review your menstrual history and ask you questions to determine possible causes. He or she might perform additional tests, such as a Pap test, ultrasound, pregnancy test, hormone tests or thyroid function tests. If your irregular bleeding is caused by a hormonal imbalance, the doctor might recommend hormone supplements or oral contraceptives as a treatment.
Your doctor could determine that the cause is more severe and might recommend greater intervention to treat irregular menstrual bleeding. Some women require surgery to remove fibroids or polyps. Other medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary disease or pelvic inflammatory disease, might be treated with medication. If the cause of your irregular menstrual bleeding is uterine cancer, you could require chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.
In most cases, irregular menstrual bleeding is not caused by a severe medical condition. For girls who have recently begun menstruating or women who are nearing menopause, irregular periods are normal and do not require treatment. If you are at all concerned about your irregular period, see your doctor to discuss possible causes and treatment options.
They teach "sex education" in schools, but leave out the really vital information, which is to teach girls how to keep track of their cycles. A lot of moms will tell their daughters how to do it, but the girls need to learn to do this early on, so they will know how to do it if they do need to go to the doctor for irregular bleeding.
I say this because my cousin's periods had been irregular for years, but she really didn't know how irregular they were until she learned how to count her days and found out she was never consistent. She tried birth control, but never could take it successfully. After two children and several miscarriages, she finally decided to have a hysterectomy and said she feels better than she has in years.
I think most women know if their menstrual bleeding is irregular, unless they're young and haven't been having periods for very long. Sometimes, it does take a while to get a girl's cycle established, but by the time she's been menstruating for a year or so, she should have a pretty good idea of her cycle length.
It's always helpful to the doctor for a woman to keep track of her cycles over a couple or three months, but really, the only way to address an irregular cycle, or irregular bleeding, is to see a doctor.
If nothing else is going on, like an ovarian cyst or similar, then birth control will almost always help regulate a woman's cycle. It got mine under control, that's for sure.
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