In normal situations, menstrual periods begin during puberty. For every girl, puberty will start at different times but typically will begin between the ages of 10 and 16 years old. Menstrual periods, commonly referred to as a “period,” will continue until a woman transitions through menopause.
All girls are different, thus normal menstrual periods will vary in cycle starting points, duration of the period, and in the intensity of bleeding and cramping.
The average menstrual cycle begins 28 days apart and typically lasts between four and seven days. Periods that begin between 21 and 35 days apart are considered within a normal range.
Menstrual cycles that begin less than 21 days apart or last longer than 40 days are considered abnormal. The clinical term for this abnormality is “irregular menstruation.” In young girls, irregular menstruation may also include heavy bleeding during menstruation.
Young girls who are approaching puberty naturally experience changes in their body’s hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone. These changes can, however, disrupt the normal menstrual cycle as young women progress through puberty.
Since there is a range of normal menstrual cycles and period lengths, it may not be obvious if irregular menstruation exists. In fact, irregular menstruation may not be caused by underlying disease as much as by lifestyle changes. The following list may be helpful to identify situations where irregular menstruation may exist.
Examples of irregular menstruation symptoms:
It is important to remember that while not all symptoms of irregular menstruation are caused by disease, identifying the cause of the symptoms is key to maintain the overall health of the individual.
There are many reasons irregular menstruation may occur and not all causes are due to underlying disease. The following are the most common causes of irregular menstruation that are not related to disease:
If a young girl’s body experiences changes in the hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone, disruption of the normal menstrual cycle can occur. Other causes of irregular periods that may be related to underlying disease include:
Eating disorders that lead to rapid weight gain or loss may also contribute to irregular menstruation.
Treatment for irregular periods during puberty may not be necessary; however, understanding the root of the problem can provide peace of mind when no underlying disease exists. Even if no underlying disease exists, irregular menstruation can lead to additional problems, like infertility.
An appointment with Dr. Joshua Smith, our pediatric endocrinologist, will help! He is an expert in identifying the root cause of irregular menstruation and can provide treatment options.
The treatment options will depend on the cause and may include one or more of the following:
If your child is experiencing irregular menstruation symptoms, call Dr. Joshua Smith for an appointment. Dr. Smith is the region’s only specialist in pediatric endocrinology and is specifically trained to properly diagnose and treat irregular menstruation.