Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition among women of 15-45 years. It affects 10 million women worldwide. According to studies, PCOS often causes consistently sporadic periods.
Regular periods occur every 21 to 35 days. But for many women with PCOS, the hormonal imbalance might mess up the monthly ovulation cycle and menstruation. Therefore, it’s essential to learn what periods are like with PCOS, as it’s 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 be at play.
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 Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – An Overview
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which the ovaries develop many tiny cysts (fluid-filled sacs). However, not all women with this condition have cysts and yet suffer from the symptoms of PCOS such as changes in hormonal levels.
Factors like genetics, obesity, insulin resistance, high androgen levels, and unhealthy lifestyle increase the risk of PCOS.
Sometimes a woman’s body doesn’t produce enough hormones required for ovulation. When ovulation doesn’t occur, the ovaries may grow many tiny cysts.
These cysts produce hormones called androgens. Androgens, or male sex hormones, are typically present in women in small amounts. However, when produced in abnormally high quantities by the ovaries, it can worsen a woman’s menstrual cycle problems and cause PCOS. Healthy dietary and lifestyle habits are indispensable to PCOS treatment. Even though they don’t cure PCOS, they can help reduce the symptoms.
PCOS and Irregular Periods
PCOS can cause irregular periods and at times may even entirely stop them from occuring. An ‘irregular’ period cycle is fewer menstrual cycles per year than average women. So even though it’s perfectly normal to experience periods that are 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 lasting eight or fewer per year, or more than 35 days, are considered irregular periods.
It can delay periods for 5-6 months. Sometimes, there can be regular periods, but with scanty blood flow lasting only for two days. Some women with PCOS go three or more cycles without getting their period.
One of the main reasons why people with PCOS are unable to conceive is a condition known as amenorrhea. After all, if there are no periods, no egg is released as part of a menstrual cycle. As a result, ovulation may completely cease as menstrual cycles lengthen (a condition known as anovulation) or happen infrequently. Additionally, some PCOS patients have irregular menstrual cycles with stronger or lighter flow.
Regular periods prevent the excessive thickness of the uterus lining (womb). Having irregular periods might cause the womb to fill with abnormal cells. It is critical to have at least four cycles annually to prevent a build-up of abnormal cells.
Talk to your doctor if you have fewer than four periods each year. Keeping track of your cycle will help you calculate how long it has been since your last period. Consult a gynaecologist so they can look into the cause if you find that there is 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 might take three months for a woman with PCOS. Sometimes, PCOS can delay periods for 5 or 6 months. Even though getting periods a day or two late is considered normal, you should still speak with a gynaecologist if you experience a three-month interval between cycles.
What Can You Do to Improve it?
Your doctor can help determine which treatment option will help you most with irregular periods. Remember that living a healthy, active lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do to manage your PCOS effectively.
You may also lessen the severity of some symptoms by losing extra weight. Losing just 5–10% of your body weight can have significant benefits, like regular menstrual cycles, increased fertility, and a lower risk of diabetes.
The anti-androgenic properties of combined oral contraceptive pills result in monthly bleeds and restore cycle regularity for many women. However, unless you implement appropriate lifestyle changes, previously irregular cycles will become that way again once treatment ceases.
Although not all women suffering from PCOS experience fertility issues, many have irregular periods. 75-85% of PCOS patients will have some sort of menstrual cycle disturbance, resulting in bleeding occurring every three months or less or eight periods or less in a single year. However, there are ways to restore regularity to one’s periods through medications, diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.