For most women, a normal menstrual cycle ranges from 21 to 35 days. However, 14% to 25% of women have irregular menstrual cycles, meaning the cycles are shorter or longer than normal; are heavier or lighter than normal; or are experienced with other problems, like abdominal cramps.2 Irregular cycles can be ovulatory, meaning that ovulation occurs, or anovulatory, meaning ovulation does not occur.
The most common menstrual irregularities include:
- Amenorrhea or absent menstrual periods:3,4,5,6 When a woman does not get her period by age 16, or when she stops getting her period for at least 3 months and is not pregnant.
- Oligomenorrhea or infrequent menstrual periods: Periods that occur more than 35 days apart.
- Menorrhagia or heavy menstrual periods:Also called excessive bleeding. Although anovulatory bleeding and menorrhagia are sometimes grouped together, they do not have the same cause and require different diagnostic testing.
- Prolonged menstrual bleeding: Bleeding that exceeds 8 days in duration on a regular basis.
- Dysmenorrhea : Painful periods that may include severe menstrual cramps.
Additional menstrual irregularities include:
- Polymenorrhea : Frequent menstrual periods occurring less than 21 days apart
- Irregular menstrual periods with a cycle-to-cycle variation of more than 20 days
- Shortened menstrual bleeding of less than 2 days in duration
- Intermenstrual bleeding: Episodes of bleeding that occur between periods, also known as spotting
Hirsutism refers to coarse or colored hair that grows on the face and body of some women. It might sometimes result from a medical condition.
Most women have fine, pale, faintly visible hair on the face and body, but this hair might sometimes be thicker and more visible.
About half of all people with hirsutism have an excess of androgens. These hormones usually trigger male physical and sexual development. Women normally have low androgen levels, but these levels might vary for a range of reasons.
Besides excessive hair growth, a woman with hirsutism may also experience other symptoms, including:
- Oily skin
- Hair loss, known as alopecia
- A receding hairline
- An enlarged clitoris
- A deeper voice