Irregular periods, Menopausal problem?

Patient: Hi doc! I am 50 yrs of age and have been getting my periods regularly still.But last month, (dec 2011) i missed it entirely and then it arrived on 7th jan this mnth and was slightly heavier than normal but for the normal 4 days.Surprisingly on 27th of this month (jan) i again felt the sign of a period coming with slight cramping which normally signals my oncoming period…the period was again normal and lasted 3 days.The question is,WHY did i get another period in the same month after only 20 days gap?? Is it a bad sign and should i go to my gynaec for a scan etc? Incidentallly i had a scan done a year ago and pap smear etc and all was normal . In 2010 i suffered from severe chikunguniya and stopped periods fr 5 straight months and then they arrived as usual and lasted till this last nov 2011 but i missed period in dec as mentioned on top.Now again in jan it started as usual and i had it twice like i mentioned.Could you plz explain what is this phenomenon coz i am concern,

Doctor: Irregular periods are often one of the first signs that a woman is approaching menopause. The most common early menstrua l irregularity noticed in the perimenopause is a shortening of cycle length. For example, women with prior 28 day cycles will commonly describe 24 to 26 day cycles during the early perimenopause. Eventually, the cycle length widens and skipping menses typically occurs. The changes in the cycle length may be associated with heavier than normal flow followed by a lighter flow and occasional spotting in later perimenopause.A common reason for the late periods and prolonged bleeding is due to anovulation, which is ovulation without the egg being released. When this occurs, there is no signal to the body to cause a period. As irregular periods during menopause are related to low estrogen levels, the best way to overcome irregular periods is dealing with hormonal imbalance. The major types of treatment options include lifestyle changes and medical therapy. Irregular periods caused by fatigue, stress, and poor physical health should be corrected by adopting a healthy lifestyle. I would definitely advise that you speak to your health care provider if your irregular periods are bothersome or concerning. I wish you well, take care.