Irregular Menstrual Cycle

Irregular Menstrual Period

A woman has her menses when the inner lining of the uterus sheds every month following a natural upsurge of the estrogen hormone when the egg released by the ovary is not fertilized. A normal menstrual period lasts from 2 to 7 days. The range of the cyclic pattern is between 21 to 35 days.

There are chances of something wrong in this cycle when:

  • bleeding occurs that is not part of the regular cycle
  • periods are longer or heavier than normal
  • bleeding occurs between periods
  • time between periods is longer than normal
  • there is an absence of periods
  • bleeding occurs after sexual intercourse
  • bleeding occurs after menopause

Medically, such symptoms are also incorporated in Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding (DUB) or Abnormal Uterine Bleeding (AUB).

There are various causes of abnormal bleeding, but the most common is hormone imbalance (not enough or too much of certain hormones). At both ends of the menstrual life of a woman, periods may be irregular. Reasons for abnormal periods can be both normal and abnormal. The most common times when it’s normal to experience a hormonal imbalance are menarche, pregnancy, post-delivery and menopause.

Causes of Irregular Menses

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Intrauterine devices
  • Stress – Physical and psychological upheavals cause disturbances in the hormones due to the response mechanisms of the body which shuts down certain process like menstruation, digestion, etc. to conserve energy and help combat the stressful situation.
  • Menarche – The onset of periods in a young girl is menarche. There may be irregularity experienced by some young girls at the start. Their cycle can be irregular for months or years while it establishes balance.
  • Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
    In this condition, the sex hormones namely estrogen and progesterone, become imbalanced. Normally, the ovaries make a small amount of male sex hormones (androgens). In PCOS, they start making slightly more androgens. This may cause you to
    – stop ovulating
    – get acne
    – grow extra facial and body hair
    – thin out your scalp hair
  • The body may also have a problem using insulin, called insulin resistance. When the body doesn’t use insulin well, blood sugar levels go up. Over time, this increases your chances of getting diabetes.
  • Dietary problems
    – anorexia (distaste towards food or reduced hunger)
    – bulimia (overeating or binging and then purging)
    – or simply a poor diet
  • Too much or too little exercise
  • Drugs – prescription and recreational
  • Break in routine
  • Thoughts and emotions
  • Sexual activity – especially when it is a new occurrence
  • Anxiety about pregnancy
  • Illness or physiological imbalance e.g. thyroid conditions
  • Anemia

Ayurveda and Process of Menstruation

The uterine system is the seat of Vata predominance but is influenced by the other humors of the body, namely Pitta and Kapha.

Ayurveda divides the entire monthly cycle into three distinct phases.

1. Ritu Kala: This is when the ovaries develop follicles that mature, thickening the lining of the uterus in preparation for ovulation (or possible pregnancy). This phase lasts for 12-16 days and is ruled by Kapha dosha, the dosha responsible for growth and regeneration.
2. Ritu Vyateeta Kala: After ovulation, Pitta dosha takes over the secretory phase when blood supply along with various hormones and nutrients to the uterine lining increases. This is so that the conceptus (embryo) is nourished if one were to get pregnant. The Pitta phase, where all the body’s secretion activities occur, lasts from 9-13 days.
3. Rajasrava Kala: This is the actual phase of menstruation where the blood along with the lining (endometrium) is shed in case no egg is fertilized and implanted. This phase is of 3-5 days in duration and is governed by Vata dosha (and the Apana Vayu), which is in control of all the movement in the body.

To know which dosha is predominant during your cycle, refer to the following table:
[table id=11 /]

As mentioned above, the Ayurvedic name for menstruation is Rajasrava, which translates to ‘flow of Raja.’ In this case the term ‘Raja’ often indicates ‘blood,’ it may as well refer to the ‘Rajas Guna.’ A Guna is basically a quality of the mind. The Rajas Guna stands for the dynamic features of flow, movement, passion and energy. In the mental sheath, Rajas represents emotional states such as anger, irritation, frustration, anxiety and mood swings, which are common in menstruating women.

Herbal Remedies for Irregular Menses

For those with Vata vitiation – Shatavari, Ashwagandha, Dashmoolarishta, Castor oil and regular ghee consumption
With Pitta vitiation – Sariva, Manjishta and Aloe vera help cool the blood and ease the flow
With Kapha vitiation – Ginger, Cinnamon, Cardamom and Pepper help remove the blockages and heaviness

Home Remedies for Irregular Menstruation

CASTOR OIL PACKS FOR MENSTRUAL CRAMPS, FIBROIDS AND BLOATING**
Castor oil is very nourishing with its heavy, oily, sticky and heating qualities. It can help along a sluggish system and ground blocked Vata, like in the case of constipation.

  • Take a cotton cloth that is large enough to cover your abdominal area when folded up in thirds.
  • Warm the castor oil slightly and lightly coat one side of the cloth with the oil.
  • Apply the oiled side over the abdominal region.
  • Place a hot water bottle or electric heating pad on top.
  • You could place a towel over the setup to secure in place. But it is not necessary.
  • Now, relax and lie in this position for 30-60 minutes to soak in the soothing warmth. Take this time to look inwards and calm yourself. You can read or listen to meditative music too.
  • Afterwards, simply wipe off the residue and clean the area. If it still feels sticky, you can wash with a mild cleanser.

Frequency:
For best results, use the pack for at least 4 days consecutively every week for a month.
**Do not use castor oil packs while menstruating.

PAINFUL AND IRREGULAR MENSTRUATION

  • A piece of fresh ginger (adrak), ground and boiled in a cup of water. The infusion is taken thrice daily after meals along with sugar.
  • Boil 1 teaspoon saffron (kesar) in half cup water. Let it reduce to become 1 tablespoon. Divide this decoction into three portions and take with equal quantities of water, thrice daily for a couple of days.
  • Take 2-3 cloves of garlic to be chewed/swallowed after meals for 4-5 days before menses.

DELAYED MENSTRUATION

  • Take half teaspoon finely ground cinnamon (dalchini) along with 1 cup milk every night.
  • Powder 1 teaspoon dried mint (pudina) leaves and take with 1 teaspoon honey, thrice daily.
  • Drink 20ml aloe vera juice every day before meals.

EXCESSIVE BLEEDING

  • Grind some bael leaves into a fine paste. Take 1 teaspoon with warm water and drink some cold water as well.
  • Boil 1 teaspoon coriander (dhania) seeds in 2 cups of water till it is reduced to 1 cup. Add rock candy (mishri) to taste and drink when lukewarm. Repeat twice or thrice a day.

Ayurvedic Treatment of Irregular Menses

Herbs
  • Ashoka (Saraca Indica): The bark of the Ashoka tree is used to make a decoction for irregular menses. To make the decoction, 10 grams of Ashoka bark is added to 2 cups of water and boiled till it reduces to half cup. One should drink this decoction twice daily, with a natural sweetener like jaggery or honey if needed.
  • Chandan (Santalum Album): Make a decoction using the roots or leaves. Add this decoction to cow’s milk and drink daily to calm menstrual disorders.
  • Lodhra (Symplocos Racemosa): The decoction of the bark is an effective Ayurvedic treatment of irregular menses.
  • Hibiscus (Rosa Sinensis): Hibiscus tea can be very beneficial as an Ayurvedic tonic for irregular periods. Another way to get the goodness from this blossom is to fry two flowers in ghee. Take them with warm milk daily.
  • Hing (Ferula Foetida): Asafetida stimulates the production of the female hormone progesterone that increases blood flow to the uterus and regularizes periods. It also works as an excellent digestive aid and can relieve you from one of the symptoms of PCOS – constipation. Fry a pinch of hing in ghee and consume with your meals. Follow with a cup of buttermilk for best results.
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra): Licorice or mulethi is one of the best tonics for menorrhagia and metrorrhagia. Mix 5 gms of mulethi powder in 1 ounce of rice wash water (Tandulodaka). Add some natural sugar to taste and drink this twice daily. This should be done for two to three cycles or till the symptoms last. Drinking licorice tea also helps reduce menstrual cramps and beats symptoms of PMS because of its estrogenic effects.
Ayurvedic Supplements (to be taken under physician’s guidance – Consult Now)  

               Sundari Kalp Forte

               Ashokarishta

               Rajaprawartini Bati 

               Shankh Bati

               Dashamoolaristha

               Bolbadh Ras

               Chandanasava

              Lodhrasava

              Navayas Lauh

Diet
  • Diet is very important for hormone health. If you eat lots of fast food you are not giving your body the nourishment it needs. If you eat sporadically, miss meals and diet constantly – you essentially send your body into survival mode, it thinks it is starving and shuts down unnecessary systems. A body that thinks it is starving will not cycle regularly; this is because having a cycle that is healthy enough to support new life is considered secondary.
  • According to Ayurveda, the time of menstruation is like being wounded. During your menses have light and easy to digest foods just like you would if you were recovering from a wound. Skip meat, junk foods, pickles and heavy sweets. Consumption of these foods may cause blood impurities Light roti, rice dal and sabzis should be the ideal intake.
  • Include menstruation inducing foods such as pineapple, carrot and papaya in your diet.
Lifestyle
  • An understanding that your body needs care and rest when it’s releasing so much toxin and fluid. The uterus is in a hectic mode and over activity gives the hormones a wrong cue regarding the functioning of your body. Hence the traditional wisdom of resting during your menstrual cycle holds strong for having a healthy hormonal and uterine balance.
  • Avoid excessive sleep during the day apart from a short nap.
  • Foment your back and lower abdomen to ease cramps.
  •  Sleep on a mat or on a hard surface to provide support to the back.
  • Stay home as far as possible (especially true for working women). This is so as during this time the vaginal canal opens up further and that could make you highly susceptible to infections.
Yoga
  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
  • The Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)
  • The Half Wheel (Ardha Chakrasana)
  • Sheetali and Sitkari Pranayama