Women, and even our doctors, often shrug off an irregular period as no big deal. We go on birth control to regulate it and don't give it a second thought. But, warns gynecologist Lawrence Nelson, an irregular period could be indicative of a serious problem called primary ovarian insufficiency, or POI.
One in 100 women under the age of 40, says Nelson, may suffer from this disruption in hormones, which causes irregular cycles and negatively impacts fertility and bone health. Occasional interruptions in your cycle due to stress and other factors are totally normal, but with POI, hormone production will start and stop, throwing the ovaries out of whack.
I've known several women, including our own DrSugar, who have had a difficult time conceiving after going off birth control and experience irregular periods. According to Dr. Nelson, hormonal birth control doesn't cause POI, but birth control pills can mask the condition, since they make it appear that your body is ovulating regularly when it may not be. He says that 5 to 10 percent of women diagnosed with POI can ultimately conceive.
If you're experiencing an irregular period, especially over a long period of time, don't consider the absence of Aunt Flo a blessing. Visit your doctor and try to get to the bottom of the issue. Have any of you been diagnosed with POI?