Dr Yakubu Idris, an Abuja base Gynaecologist, has advised women to understand the mechanics of their menstrual cycle in case of irregular menstruation.
Idris told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja that while most women are unexcited about their menstruation, others realise the importance of bleeding when suddenly, it delays for one month.
“It either does not appear or it shows up when they least expected, we need to first understand the mechanics of the menstrual cycle on what is going on when one has irregular period or why it suddenly stopped.
“During a woman’s fertile life, the eggs mature within the ovaries in a cycle that typically lasts 28 days this varies from woman to woman and even from period to period.
“On day five of the cycle, about 20 eggs start to mature in the follicles of the ovaries; each of these follicles is like a tiny fluid-filled sac.
“As day 14 approaches, one follicle has generally matured earlier than the others and releases its mature egg to be fertilized,” he explained.
He said other follicles shrivel up and reabsorbed by the body.
He added that the mature follicle transforms into what is known as a “corpus luteum” which, he said, was responsible for producing the hormone progesterone to prepare the uterus to receive the fertilised egg.
He, however, explained that if the egg was not fertilised, that it disintegrates and dies, adding that the corpus luteum then withers.
“This causes the uterus to shed its lining, the endometrium, causing the bleeding of menstruation.
“However, having regular menstrual cycles meant that the interval between periods was consistent.
“As I mentioned earlier, it’s usually 28 days, but depending on the individual woman, can range from every 20 to every 35 days,” Idris said.
According to him, an irregular menstrual cycle meant that the interval between periods varies each month, adding that sometimes they come every 28 days, sometimes every 20, sometimes every 30.
“Having irregular periods is very common, I see them in my practice all the time; the causes can range from something insignificant to something that requires treatment.
“For example, if you’re a teenager, your body’s hormones can fluctuate and take some time until they find a balance.
“Therefore, it’s normal to have an irregular period during adolescence or, sometimes, for your period not to arrive in a given month.
“Sometimes the main caused for a woman’s period not to arrive is pregnancy, therefore, if your period doesn’t arrive; check to make sure it’s not actually a baby that is on the way.
“Most common causes of irregular periods eating disorders; like anorexia and bulimia; excessive weight gain or weight loss; extreme thinness and obesity both caused the menstrual cycle to become irregular or even to disappear.’’
Among others, he said, were stress or emotional problems and hormonal problems, like when the thyroid malfunctions, travel and over exercising.
He noted that an athlete or women that train very hard during exercise this may stop their menstruating because their body wants to survive and save energy because menstruation requires energy.
“Problems with the pelvic organs such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, for example, drugs like birth-control pills can affect the frequency and or intensity of menstruation, breastfeeding.
“Irregular periods or a stop of menstruation can be due to a condition called premature ovarian failure, which causes a woman to stop having her period before age 40.
“This can be caused by radiation, surgery or chemotherapy, in the case of a woman with cancer,” he said.
He advised women who are sexually active and do not want to get pregnant to use a birth control method they could trust so that irregular periods do not bring them an unexpected surprise.
He added that even if their period goes away for a while, it does not mean that they cannot become pregnant.
He, however, recommended that women should always consult their healthcare providers if they have questions about what was causing their irregular periods.
He stated that this would help women know if their cases were a serious condition that would require a treatment.