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Periods, or menstrual cycles, typically start to change long before menstruation finally stops. Irregular menstrual cycles are a cause of concern for a lot of women. The changes in menstrual cycles vary. Some women have their menses occurring like clockwork their entire lives, while others discover that they can no longer predict their period date. Still others, who have always had irregular periods, find that their periods have started occurring in a timely pattern. Mostly the time between periods lengthens or shortens.

Many women see similarities between their menstrual cycles during their forties and during teenage years. The bleeding can become heavier or spottier or even some combination of both. These changes before menopause are all a common part of perimenopause, the stage before the final step of physical changeover in a woman’s life.

It is exceptional that a woman has completely regular periods and then all of a sudden one month the periods stop altogether. Periods can start to change and continue changing for countless years before they finally stop. Often, they are accompanied by other symptoms of perimenopause, such as, difficulty in sleeping, irritability, hot flashes and night sweats.

Menopause and Irregular Menstrual Cycles: What Is It

Technically speaking, menopausal means a woman had no periods for a full calendar year. Many women stop having periods in the fall or around November and think that they have finished menstruating, only to start again in the spring. This may happen for a couple of years, but it usually means that the end is nigh. The cause or irregular periods are related to the ovaries and how they are working.

Before menopause, each month, the ovaries produce and send out an egg in a procedure called ovulation. When this happens, usually about fourteen days after your last period started, the hormone estrogen and progesterone, are excreted in high doses, in case that egg is fertilized. If not, the egg gets implanted, the excess hormones are not required and a woman gets her period. For some reasons, the ovary does not always produce eggs and the excreted hormones are not at the usual levels. More often, there is lesser progesterone to counteract the estrogen, causing heavy bleeding from the uterus.

Menopause and Irregular Menstrual Cycles: Treatments

It is very important to discuss any change in menstrual cycle with your doctor. Having an annual pelvic exam and pap smear is a sensible practice, especially when entering menopause and is a very good preventative health care step. If you have very heavy menstrual bleeding or spotting between periods, a doctor’s consultation and testing is even more important.

These may be blood tests for anemia and thyroid function and can be helpful in avoiding difficulties due to excess bleeding. Some medical practitioners prescribe birth control pills to control the irregular bleeding and these work well to avoid symptoms like anemia.

Sometimes, dietary changes are recommended to replenish the body with the important minerals and nutrients that are lost due to the excessive bleeding during menstruation. Starting some regular exercises that you take pleasure in, help reduce stress and having a balanced lifestyle. Progesterone generally limits how much estrogen stimulates the lining of the uterus and creates structure and roots to this tissue to regulate the menstrual cycle appropriately. All these factors can help control ovulation, balance hormones and regularize menstruation.

The information in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice.