The menstrual cycle is not the same for every woman. A normal menstrual period lasts from 2 to 7 days. The normal cycle patterns can range from 21 to 35 days. When bleeding occurs that is not part of the regular cycle; periods are longer or heavier than normal; occurs between periods; time between periods is longer than normal; or there is an absence of periods, this is called abnormal or irregular uterine bleeding.
There are various causes of abnormal bleeding, but the most common is a hormone imbalance.
- New cycle , that is the irregularity experienced by some young girls at the onset of the periods. Their cycle can be irregular for months or years whilst it is establishing itself.
- Dietary problems , e.g. anorexia, bulimia or simply poor diet.
If you eat lots of fast foods you are not giving your body the nourishment it needs. If you eat sporadically, miss meals and diet constantly – you essentially send your body into survival mode, it thinks it is starving and shuts down unnecessary systems.
- Too much exercise
- Drugs – prescription and recreational
- Break in routine
- Thoughts and emotions
- Sexual activity – especially when it is a new occurrence
- Anxiety about pregnancy
- Illness or physiological imbalance e.g. thyroid conditions
Irregular menstrual cycles can also be a warning sign of more serious disorders, especially endometriosis and uterine fibroids and tumors. If your cycle is irregular, see your doctor to make sure these conditions do not exist.
Irregularity also falls into 2 categories:
- Long Term Irregularity
Long term irregularity can be anything from a cycle that varies in length from month to month to the experience of various abnormal symptoms, for example, excessive bleeding, no cycle for months at a time, very painful periods or ovulation.
To be on the safe side if your are experiencing prolonged bleeding or very painful symptoms it is wise to consult a doctor to find out what is going on.
- Sudden or Short term Irregularity Short term irregularity can be attributed to any of the causes listed above, and are generally a one off or sporadic occurrence. These cases are probably not a cause for great concern unless you are experiencing pain or just feel as if something is wrong.
Herbs for Regulating menstruation
Ginseng, Siberian ginseng, motherwort, vitex, don quai, Wild Yam and licorice can help. The Chinese have been using don quai to regulate menstruation since at least the sixth century b.c. Typically, don quai is taken during the two weeks before menstruation. Results of studies conducted in China led researchers to conclude that this herb enhances the utilization of oxygen in the liver and also that it contains small amounts of nutrients important to women: vitamins B2, B6 and E, pantothenic acid, choline and zinc.
Other herbs used in both Chinese and Western formulas to regulate a woman’s cycle are motherwort, skullcap and ginger. They are especially useful to encourage menstruation that has been delayed by illness, stress or overexertion. Studies conducted in India showed that aloe vera juice, traditionally used there as a female tonic, also regulates menstruation.