What happens if I have an irregular period later in life?

What happens if I have an irregular period later in life?

Our expert: Dr. Sherry Ross

Sheryl A. Ross, M.D., “Dr. Sherry,” is an award-winning OBGYN, our go-to for pregnancy, postpartum, menopause and beyond. She’s practiced for 20+ years, recently won both a Top Ten OB/GYN & Patient’s Choice Award. She also has a line of custom vitamins made specially for women, Dr. Ross D3FY Vitamins.

I have been having very irregular periods since I was 37; I’m 44 now. I have seen multiple doctors about it and they say it’s normal, because all of my tests have come back in the “OK range”. Is this the start of menopause or am i just a weird person?

The good news is you are not a weird person, the bad news is you are definitely having disruptive and irregular periods. There could be a few explanations for your years of erratic periods.  I am glad to hear that you have been to the doctor’s office to try and get a reasonable explanation to your irregular menstrual cycles.  I would think the workup for the most common causes of irregular bleeding in the scenario you described would have included the following:

  • Hormonal testing: Thyroid studies and ovarian testing which includes a FSH and Estradiol
  • Pelvic Ultrasound: To make sure you do not have ovarian cysts, uterine cavity abnormalities such as uterine polyps or uterine fibroids or an abnormally thickened uterine lining that might suggest pre-cancer or cancer cells.
  • Endometrial biopsy: A biopsy of the uterine cavity is often performed if abnormal and irregular bleeding is persistent and the uterine cavity is thickened.

Now you mentioned that you were told all your tests were “OK”, so I assume the above testing was performed. The diagnosis of exclusion, meaning all testing above was completely normal, leads me to believe that you are having peri-menopausal bleeding. The years leading up to menopause are called peri-menopause and can last up to 10 years before you actually enter this new chapter in a women’s life.  During peri-menopause your female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, do not follow the usual and regular patterns.  As a result, you will have irregular bleeding, heavy, light, clots and utter period disruption.

You don’t have to suffer in silence.  Treatment to control this type of irregular bleeding would include oral contraception—the “pill”, cyclic progesterone (provera) or a surgical procedure which might include a Dilation and Curettage (D & C). If you are ever confused about having irregular periods and don’t feel satisfied with your doctor’s explanation go for a second or even third opinion.  It’s so important to be your own health care advocate.

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