Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition in women aged 15-45. It affects 10 million women worldwide. According to studiesPCOS often consistently causes sporadic periods.
Regular periods occur every 21 to 35 days. But for many women with PCOS, the hormonal imbalance can mess up the monthly ovulation cycle and menstruation. Therefore, learning what menstruation is like with PCOS is essential as it is not a one size fits all condition.
Despite being a widespread problem, many women are unaware they have the condition. The primary cause of this syndrome is hormonal imbalance. However, environmental factors and genetics may also play a role.
Another common misconception is that the condition is unmanageable. However, one can deal with the condition through a healthy eating plan and regular exercise.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – An Overview
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which the ovaries develop many small cysts (fluid-filled sacs). However, not all women with this condition have cysts and still suffer the symptoms of PCOS, such as changes in hormonal levels.
Factors such as genetics, obesityObesity, insulin resistance, high androgen levels, and an unhealthy lifestyle increase the risk of PCOS.
Sometimes a woman’s body doesn’t produce enough hormones needed for ovulation. When ovulation does not occur, the ovaries can develop many small cysts.
These cysts produce hormones called androgens. Androgens, or male sex hormones, are usually present in small amounts in women. However, when produced in abnormally high amounts by the ovaries, it can exacerbate a woman’s menstrual cycle problems and cause PCOS. Healthy eating and lifestyle habits are indispensable in the treatment of PCOS. While they don’t cure PCOS, they can help reduce symptoms.
PCOS and irregular periods
PCOS can cause irregular periods and sometimes even stop them altogether. An ‘irregular’ menstrual cycle is fewer menstrual cycles per year than the average woman. So even though it’s totally normal to have a period a day or two late, it could be a sign of PCOS if your periods are consistently irregular.
The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but anything between 21 and 35 days is considered normal. Cycles that last eight or less per year, or more than 35 days, are considered menstrual irregularities.
It can delay periods for 5-6 months. Sometimes there may be regular periods, but with scanty blood flow lasting only two days. Some women with PCOS go through three or more cycles without a period.
One of the main reasons people with PCOS are unable to get pregnant is a condition known as amenorrhea. After all, if there is no menstruation, no egg is released as part of a menstrual cycle. As a result, ovulation may stop completely as the menstrual cycle lengthens (a condition known as anovulation) or occurs infrequently. In addition, some PCOS patients have irregular menstrual cycles with a stronger or lighter flow.
Regular menstruation prevents excessive thickness of the endometrium (uterus). If you have irregular periods, the uterus can fill with abnormal cells. It is critical to have at least four cycles per year to avoid a buildup of abnormal cells.
If you have fewer than four menstrual periods per year, talk to your doctor. By keeping track of your cycle, you can calculate how long it has been since your last period. Consult a gynecologist so they can investigate the cause if you notice a three month gap between cycles.
The HealthifyMe note
The average menstrual cycle is usually between 21 and 35 days. However, for a woman with PCOS, the cycle can last three months. Sometimes PCOS can delay periods by 5 or 6 months. Although it is considered normal to have a period a day or two late, you should still speak to a gynecologist if you experience a three month interval between cycles.
What can you do to improve it?
Your doctor can help you determine which treatment option will help you the most with irregular periods. Remember that a healthy, active lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do to effectively manage your PCOS.
You can also reduce the severity of some symptoms by losing extra weight. Losing just 5-10% of your body weight can have significant benefits, such as regular menstrual cycles, increased fertility and a lower risk of diabetes.
The anti-androgenic properties of combined oral contraceptive pills lead to monthly bleeding in many women and restore cycle regularity. However, unless you make the right lifestyle changes, previously irregular cycles will return once treatment is discontinued.
While not all women who suffer from PCOS have fertility problems, many have irregular periods. 75-85% of PCOS patients will have some sort of menstrual cycle disruption resulting in bleeding occurring every three months or less or eight periods or less in a single year. However, there are ways to restore the regularity of one’s period through medications, diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.