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5 things a gynaecologist wants you to know if you have a long menstrual cycle

Long menstrual cycles can be your body’s way of indicating something more serious. Read this to know more.
Awareness is important for changing the "problematic" perception of menstrual health, says Shaheen. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Sonakshi Kohli Updated: 13 Oct 2023, 13:24 pm IST
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You know what’s the most annoying part about periods, apart from the headaches, the stomach cramps, the mood swings, and all the discomfort down there, of course? It is the fact that sometimes, they can come and go at their own convenience.

Come on! All of us have had times when we’ve been down and out twice in one month. The scariest times were when we waited for more than four weeks for our periods to finally mark their presence and well, wasted several pregnancy-testing strips during the wait.

Now, ruling pregnancy aside, if your periods are more than four weeks apart sometimes or if your menstrual cycle in general is a long one, here are five things you need to know.

1. Firstly, chill! You’re absolutely normal
Ladies, we’re all quite unique and so is our menstrual cycles. Hence, it is very normal to have periods that are more than four weeks apart.

“Your menstrual cycle can be different from other women. It can be regular or slightly irregular, painful or pain-free, light or heavy, short or long,” explains Dr. Radha S. Rao, consultant, obstetrics and gynaecology, Apollo Cradle, Jayanagar, Bengaluru.

She further explains, “The normal length of the menstruation cycle is 28 days. When this cycle extends, it leads to irregular menstruation, also known as oligomenorrhea. However, your periods can naturally occur about 35 days apart.”

Blood clots in period
You can expect an irregular menstrual cycle, and it’s normal. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Now, take a sigh of relief before you go on to reading the next point.

2. Some seemingly-harmless factors could be causing the delay
It is very common to have long cycles sometimes and this delay can be attributed to the following reasons according to Dr. Rao.

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  • Intense exercise
  • Stress
  • Hormonal birth control pills
  • Use of contraceptive devices like the intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Weight changes
  • Perimenopause
  • Jet lag
  • Long-distance travel
  • Working in shifts with irregular timings
  • Breastfeeding
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Hormonal imbalance during the postpartum phase

3. Your irregular cycles can come back on track
If it’s just your lifestyle and habits meddling with your menstrual cycles, here’s what Dr. Rao suggests.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Manage and reduce your stress
  • Maintain a disciplined routine
  • Get regular exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Take birth control pills, if and as prescribed

    healthy lifestyle habits
    Exercising regularly is key to a healthy menstrual cycle. GIF courtesy: GIPHY

4. But, some serious underlying causes could also be the reason
Our body is as complicated as our relationships, unfortunately. Hence, one problem simply gives rise to another—thanks to all the hormones not minding their own businesses and constantly affecting each other.

Hence, some underlying health issues could also be responsible for your prolonged menstrual cycles as per Dr. Rao. Check ‘em out.

  • Hyperthyroidism
    A very common problem in women between the age of 20-30 years, hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland produces the thyroxine hormone in excess, leading to a faster-than-required metabolism, unintentional weight loss, irregular heartbeat, and well—irregular menstrual cycle.

A blood test is what can help detect this problem, which can only be treated by a doctor.

  • Unmanaged Diabetes
    According to a study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, women suffering from type-2 diabetes can have irregular periods.

Also, read: Can’t keep type 2 diabetes under check? Here are 5 ways to sort you out

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
    It happens when sexually-transmitted bacteria is left undiagnosed and untreated and travel up your vagina, enter your body, and infect your reproductive organs.Usually, there are no symptoms, but regular check-ups and using protection while having sex can keep you protected from it.
  • Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD)
    Again, a very common occurrence in women these days, PCOD can result in excessive male hormone (androgen) in a woman’s body along with the development of small follicles in the ovaries, preventing them to release eggs regularly and thus, causing irregular periods.

Also, read: Six Indian women tell us what it is really like to live with PCOD and PCOS

With the help of an ultrasound, PCOD can be easily detected and further treated by a doctor.

5. Extended menstrual cycles should not be taken lightly
Too much gap between your periods can be your body’s cry for help. And if these irregularities happen constantly over a long period of time, they can give rise to benign tumours and certain cancers.

Additionally, some women can have menopause even before they hit their 40s. This can reduce the ovarian reserve and lead to infertility too.

Hence, it is best to consult a doc once just so you’re clear about the cause and take appropriate treatment at the right time.

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Twenty kilos down and struggling to maintain the weight loss by preaching healthy eating, while eating unhealthy every now and then. ...Read More

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