Changes To Your Hormone Levels
Young women often spot, or bleed very slightly, when they ovulate . It happens about 10 to 14 days after their period and is usually caused by a temporary drop in levels of the hormone oestrogen. This is quite normal.
As well as reduced oestrogen levels, you may also experience other hormonal imbalances, which are completely harmless. This could be as a result of stress, or a recent change of diet.
Girls who have just started their periods and women going through menopause are more likely to have irregular periods, which can be confused with bleeding between periods.
Your doctor may take a blood test to investigate your hormone levels and will advise you on possible treatments.
When Is A Menstrual Period Considered Irregular
A normal cycle from the first day of one period to the first day of the next can be anywhere from 21 to 35 days, says Becky Lynn, MD, the director of the Evora Center for Menopause and Sexual Health and an adjunct associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Saint Louis University in Missouri: We all think that 28 days is the normal cycle, but there’s actually some room for variability. To determine whether your menstruation schedule is irregular, count from the last day of your previous period and stop counting on the first day of your next. Repeat this for three months. If the number of days between stopping and starting your period is outside of the 21 to 35 days range, you have an irregular cycle. Menstruation can also be considered irregular if your cycle length varies by more than 20 days from month to month.
Being Overweight Or Underweight
Many people dont know that maintaining a healthy weight is very important and even more are not aware of the fact that weight can be the reason behind irregular menstruation or even short periods.
If you have a lot of what you call fat cells, this means your body contains too much estrogen. On the contrary, if you are very skinny, it means you dont have sufficient estrogen to keep your menstrual cycle going in a timely manner. Whether too little or too much estrogen, both can lead to inconsistent, short and irregular periods.
To counter this, you can try to eat healthy by taking balanced meals. That can be a little tough initially, but then once you get in the flow, it will be good for you in the long run. Secondly, take out some time to exercise, a minimum of 3 times in a week for at least 30 minutes.
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Whats An Anovulatory Cycle
As its name suggests, an anovulatory cycle occurs when a women skips ovulation. During ovulation, the ovary releases an egg, or oocyte.
Its not uncommon for a woman in her prime conception years to experience an anovulatory cycle occasionally. In fact, you may have experienced one and not even noticed. Thats because when a woman experiences anovulation, she may still seem to menstruate normally.
In a normal cycle, the production of progesterone is stimulated by the release of an egg. Its this hormone that helps a womans body maintain regular periods. But during an anovulatory cycle, an insufficient level of progesterone can lead to heavy bleeding. A woman may mistake this bleeding for a real period.
This kind of bleeding may also be caused by a buildup in the lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium, which can no longer sustain itself. It can be caused by a drop in estrogen as well.
Treatment For Frequent Menstruation
The treatment for frequent menstruation depends on the underlying cause. If you have just started having periods or you normally have shorter menstrual cycles, you wont need any treatment. However, if your doctor is concerned that the frequency of blood loss due to your periods is causing anaemia, they may suggest taking iron supplements.
In some cases, hormonal birth control may be recommended to treat frequent menstruation.
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Irregular Periods Can Be Caused By Non
Lynn points out that irregular menstrual cycles can also be caused by:
- Perimenopause As you enter the transition to menopause, which can last as long as 10 years, your menstrual cycles will become erratic as part of the process. If you skip more than two periods, you are probably in late perimenopause. Its been estimated that 70 percent of women experience menstrual irregularities in the approach to menopause.
- Stress and anxiety Chronic stress or even short-term anxiety about a specific problem can wreak havoc with your hormone balance, causing a missed period and irregular cycle.
- Extreme exercise Exercising too much can throw off the timing of menstrual bleeding and sometimes stop it.
- Eating disorders, extreme dieting, or weight loss Being underweight, whether from extreme exercise, dieting, an eating disorder, or illness, can have the same effect.
- Age As mentioned, perimenopause and menopause have a major effect. But being young can create irregularities as well. Once menstruation begins in young women, it can take several years before it falls into a pattern, says Lynn.
- Birth control And not just birth control pills IUDs, implants, and rings can also cause irregular bleeding.
Not Sure What To Do Next
If you are still concerned about bleeding between periods, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether its self-care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero .
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Causes Of Irregular Periods
There are many possible causes of irregular periods. Sometimes they may just be normal for you.
Common causes include:
- puberty your periods might be irregular for the first year or two
- the start of the menopause
- early pregnancy take a pregnancy test to rule this out
- some types of hormonal contraception such as the contraceptive pill or intrauterine system
- extreme weight loss or weight gain, excessive exercise or stress
- medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome or a problem with your thyroid
Frequently Asked Questions Expand All
- What is a normal menstrual cycle?
A menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of bleeding of one menstrual period to the first day of bleeding of the next period. Most teens have a menstrual cycle that lasts between 21 and 45 days. A typical period lasts 2 to 7 days, with the heaviest bleeding in the first 3 days.
- When is a menstrual cycle not normal?
Menstrual cycles in teens often are irregular, especially in the first few years after they start. Having an irregular cycle means the number of days between your periods changes a lot from month to month. There may be a problem if:
You are 15 or older and have never had a period
It has been 3 years since your breasts developed and you have never had a period
You are 14 or older, have never had a period, and you have an eating disorder, exercise a lot, or have hirsutism
Your periods were regular each month and then they stopped being regular
Your period comes more often than every 21 days or less often than every 45 days
Your periods come more than 90 days apart, even for one cycle
Your period lasts more than 7 days
Heavy bleeding is not normal and may need treatment if:
You have to change your tampon or pad more than once every 1 to 2 hours
Your period lasts more than 7 days
You or a family member have a problem with blood clotting
You feel dizzy or faint
Article continues below
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Period Problem: Irregular Periods
Your periods are considered irregular if your menstrual cycle is shorter or longer than average. This means that the time from the first day of your last period up to the start of your next period is less than 24 days or more than 38 days.
Your periods can also be irregular if your cycle length varies by more than 20 days from month to month.10 An example would be your cycle jumping from a normal 25-day cycle to a 46-day cycle the next month and then back to a 25-day cycle the following month.
Irregular periods are normal for teenage girls and perimenopausal women. Teen girls periods may be irregular for the first few years before becoming more regular. During the transition to menopause, called perimenopause, menstrual cycles may become more irregular over time.
Causes of irregular periods include:
Period Twice In One Month
A womans body goes through a series of changes every month in preparation for a possible pregnancy. This process is called the menstrual cycle. About once every month, the uterus prepares itself for a fertilized egg by growing a new lining also known as endometrium. Hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy simultaneously. In the event that there is no fertilized egg to initiate pregnancy, the uterus lining sheds off. This is termed as the menstrual period that occurs in women from teenage to menopause at about 50 years of age. However, there are times when women can get their period twice in one month. Read on to find out more about this phenomenon.
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How Is Abnormal Menstruation Diagnosed
If any aspect of your menstrual cycle has changed, you should keep an accurate record of when your period begins and ends, including the amount of flow and whether you pass large blood clots. Keep track of any other symptoms, such as bleeding between periods and menstrual cramps or pain.
Your doctor will ask you about your menstrual cycle and medical history. He or she will perform a physical examination, including a pelvic exam and sometimes a Pap test. The doctor might also order certain tests, including the following:
- Blood tests to rule out anemia or other medical disorders.
- Vaginal cultures, to look for infections.
- A pelvic ultrasound exam to check for uterine fibroids, polyps or an ovarian cyst.
- An endometrial biopsy, in which a sample of tissue is removed from the lining of the uterus, to diagnose endometriosis, hormonal imbalance, or cancerous cells. Endometriosis or other conditions may also be diagnosed using a procedure called a laparoscopy, in which the doctor makes a tiny incision in the abdomen and then inserts a thin tube with a light attached to view the uterus and ovaries.
When To See Your Doctor
Talk to your doctor or nurse if over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, does not help or if the pain interferes with daily activities like work or school. Your doctor or nurse will ask you questions and do some tests, including possibly a physical exam, to rule out any other health problem. Keeping track of your symptoms and periods in a diary or calendar can help your doctor or nurse diagnose any health problems.
See your doctor to rule out other health problems if:
- You have blood clots in your menstrual flow that are larger than a quarter.
- Your pain happens at times other than just before your period or during your period.
Treatment depends on what is causing your pain. Your doctor may prescribe hormonal birth control, such as a hormonal intrauterine device ,8 the pill, shot, or vaginal ring,9 to help with pain from endometriosis, fibroids, or ovarian cysts. Hormonal birth control is sometimes prescribed by doctors for womens health concerns other than preventing pregnancy. You may also need surgery, as a last resort, if one of these conditions is causing your pain.
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Why Might It Happen
Each person will have a slightly different menstrual cycle and period. Mild variations in flow, duration, and symptoms are usually nothing to worry about.
Menstrual blood consists of blood and tissue from the lining of the uterus. This lining is the endometrium.
The role of the endometrium is to receive and nourish a fertilized egg. As the persons cycle progresses, the endometrium grows thicker. If an egg is not fertilized, the endometrium sheds away. The menstrual blood and tissue then pass through the cervix and out of the vagina.
Sometimes, menstrual tissue can block the cervix, preventing or limiting blood and tissue from leaving the body. This blockage may create a pause in a persons period. Once the blockage clears, the period will resume as normal.
Periods can also change from month to month due to:
Hormone levels change throughout a period, and this may affect menstrual flow.
Towards the end of the period, estrogen levels begin to rise again. Increasing estrogen levels cause the menstrual tissue to thicken. This hormonal change can affect the menstrual flow.
Certain medical conditions can cause hormone imbalances that may interrupt or interfere with menstruation. The following conditions may result in irregular periods:
Can You Get Pregnant With An Irregular Period
Absolutely yes, says Lynn. Sometimes you can ovulate with irregular cycles, sometimes you dont ovulate with irregular cycles. If you’re not ovulating, you’re not going to get pregnant, but if you are ovulating with irregular cycles, you can. You can have bleeding without ovulating but it’s a real period only if you ovulate. You should use contraception if not desiring pregnancy and to protect against STDs.
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When To Seek Professional Help
In certain instances, two periods in one month can indicate a severe medical condition. It is vital that you consult your health care professional if you notice any changes in your natural cycle.
If you are experiencing heavy bleeding, and/or more cramping and pain than normal, then it would be most advisable to visit your doctor. The same is true if large dark clots are being discharged, and this does not usually happen during your period. Besides, excessive bleeding can be an indication of numerous, severe health conditions, including anemia.
Does A 3 Day Period Mean You Are Pregnant
It is true that you cannot have periods if you are pregnant, but one of the earliest signs of pregnancy is implantation which leads to some bleeding. Many women mistake it for periods. Implantation occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall and makes placenta. When the fertilized egg tries to make space for itself, he uterus sheds a bit of its lining resulting in a little bleeding. At this point, you will experience spotting similar to a period, but very much lighter compared to periods.
Did you have unprotected sex and you are going through some spotting around the time when your period is due? Is the spotting brownish or pinkish in color? Then there is a big possibility that you might be pregnant. Implantation bleeding usually ends after 2 or 3 days but doesnt linger more than that. To confirm, you should visit a doctor and take a pregnancy test.
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