A regular menstrual cycle is an important way of tracking reproductive health. An irregular period can happen from time to time, however, if this is ongoing it could indicate a hormonal imbalance or other health complications.
New research has pinpointed smoking, stress and obesity as three leading factors which can contribute to an irregular menstrual cycle.
A normal menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, plus or minus seven days. Menstrual bleeding is considered irregular if it occurs more frequently than every 21 days or lasts longer than eight days.
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The study examined data from 4,788 women who had taken part in the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007 – 2014.
Using this information, researchers categorised the health of the participants into three groups: smoking status, how often they consumed alcohol, their body mass index (BMI) and perceived levels of stress.
The findings showed that all three categories – smoking, body weight and perceived levels of stress were directly associated with an irregular menstrual cycle.
Of all the health issues, which were identified as being most problematic, obesity was highlighted as being the leading risk factor for contributing to an irregular cycle.
The research showed obese women, namely those with a BMI over 25kg/m2 had a higher risk of irregular menstrual cycles versus women with normal body weight.
Stress was also shown to play a role in reproductive health. Participants who said they experienced only a small amount of stress were 1.74 times less likely to have an irregular cycle than those who reported ‘very much’ stress. dailymail