Menarche to Menopause, know how your periods change with age
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
Just as our body undergoes various changes as we age, the menstrual cycle is no exception. From the time of our first period (menarche) to the later stages of life (menopause), the volume, length, and regularity of our periods can all change. It is crucial for women to be aware of any abnormal changes in their menstrual cycle and to seek medical advice when necessary.
- Switch to these 5 exercises for flat abs and belly
- These medical tests are a must for your elders
- Study reveals why older adults deal with muscle fatigue
- Kiss and tell your doc to avoid getting mononucleosis aka the kissing disease
- All that stress you’ve been taking can leave you constipated. Here’s how
Menarche: The Onset of Periods
Girls typically experience puberty around the age of 11 or 12. However, if periods start before the age of 10, it is known as precocious puberty. This can be caused by various factors such as natural development, tumors, meningitis, or hypothyroidism. On the other hand, if menarche is delayed beyond 16 years of age, it can be a sign of imperforate hymen, hormonal imbalance, chromosomal abnormalities, Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD), thyroid dysfunction, or malnutrition. In these cases, it is essential to consult a gynecologist or endocrinologist for proper evaluation and treatment. Excessive bleeding during adolescence, also known as pubertal menorrhagia, can be caused by an immature hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis, bleeding disorders, hypothyroidism, or ovarian tumors. It is important to be aware of this condition as it can lead to severe anemia and should prompt a visit to the doctor.
Menstrual Cycle Changes in Reproductive Years
A normal menstrual cycle typically lasts for 3 to 5 days, occurs at intervals of 25 to 35 days, and involves an average flow with little or manageable pain. Any deviation from this pattern, such as delayed periods, frequent cycles, heavy flow, or severe pain, should be a cause for concern and should prompt a visit to the gynecologist.
1. Frequent Periods or Intermenstrual Bleeding
During the reproductive years, frequent periods or intermenstrual bleeding can indicate hormonal imbalance, uterine or cervical polyps, fibroids, contraceptive pill usage, vaginal/uterine or cervical infections, uterine or cervical cancers, ovarian tumors, as well as pregnancy-related complications. Ectopic pregnancy or abortion can also lead to this scenario.
2. Delayed Periods
Delayed periods can be caused by pregnancy, PCOD, hyperprolactinemia, or the use of certain medications. After a proper evaluation, your doctor may recommend lifestyle modifications such as diet, exercise, or medication to regulate your cycles.
3. Heavy Periods
Menorrhagia, or very heavy menstrual bleeding, may be caused by hormonal imbalance (such as PCOD or hypothyroidism), fibroids, infection, post-delivery malignancies, or even a spontaneous miscarriage. It is crucial to consult your gynecologist in such situations, as heavy bleeding can be easily corrected with medications, DNC, hysteroscopic or laparoscopic polyp or fibroid removal, hormone-releasing IUCD, or hysterectomy.
Periods During Perimenopause and Menopause
Perimenopause is the transitional stage from reproductive years to menopause. Irregular periods, early or late periods, and heavy flow are common during this time. Before attributing these changes solely to hormonal issues, it is important to rule out malignancy with a thorough evaluation.
Menopause is officially declared when a woman of menopausal age has not experienced periods for at least 1 year. Any vaginal bleeding after menopause, known as post-menopausal bleeding, should be thoroughly evaluated to rule out malignancy. Whether the bleeding is heavy or light, seeking professional advice for treatment or follow-up is crucial.
The Final Word
While the list of abnormalities in menstrual cycles is extensive, we have summarized the most commonly encountered conditions that warrant a visit to your doctor. Further investigations will determine the appropriate treatment. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your menstrual health.