How Are Irregular Periods Managed
Because there are so many possible causes of irregular periods, any treatment will depend on the likely cause. Your doctor can arrange tests to find out what is affecting your periods.
Sometimes your doctor will recommend a lifestyle change, such as weight loss for women who are overweight, or exercising less if excessive exercise is the cause.
Your doctor might discuss a prescription for the oral contraceptive pill or the contraceptive vaginal ring to make your periods regular. These medicines contain two hormones, which take over your bodys natural hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, and control your menstrual cycles.
Even if you dont mind having an irregular cycle, it may be unhealthy to go for long stretches of time without a period. Speak with your doctor to check if this is a problem for you.
How Can The Risk Of Abnormal Menstruation Be Reduced
Here are some recommendations for self-care:
- Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising moderately and eating nutritious foods. If you have to lose weight, do so gradually instead of turning to diets that drastically limit your calorie and food intake.
- Make sure you get enough rest.
- Practice stress reduction and relaxation techniques.
- If you are an athlete, cut back on prolonged or intense exercise routines. Excessive sports activities can cause irregular periods.
- Use birth control pills or other contraceptive methods as directed.
- Change your tampons or sanitary napkins approximately every four to six hours to avoid toxic shock syndrome and prevent infections.
- See a doctor for regular check-ups.
When To See A Doctor
Because hormone levels are so sensitive and can change frequently, youre likely to experience irregular periods at some point in your lifetime. With that said, there are some times when you should seek medical assistance. Call your doctor if:
- You miss three or more periods a year
- Your period has always been regular and suddenly becomes irregular
- You have a period more than once every 21 days
- You dont get your period for 35 days
- Your periods are unusually heavy or painful
- Your period lasts longer than 7 days
If youve had regular periods and the pattern suddenly changes, its a good idea to visit your doctor. They can give you a physical exam and rule out any potential problems.
Don’t Miss: When Is It Considered A Missed Period
What Is A Normal Period
When doctors describe a normal period as 28 days, they are referring to what happens on average for most women. This means if you ask a large number of women how long it is between the first day of one period to the first day of the next, 28 days lies roughly in the middle. But women are different, and the length between periods can take anywhere between 21 and 40 days.
Periods are influenced by the hormones estrogen and progesterone which rise and fall at different times across the cycle. From the beginning of the cycle, estrogen levels rise progressively, which occurs as an egg in the ovary matures. An egg is then released from the ovary this is called ovulation. Estrogen levels peak at ovulation.
The time from the period to ovulation is what varies between women, and also can vary from cycle to cycle if the time between each of your periods is different. Once ovulation has occurred, the time to the next period is very constant between women usually 13-14 days.
Progesterone levels increase only after ovulation has occurred. This helps the uterus prepare for pregnancy. During this time, the lining of the uterus changes, so that a fertilised egg can embed and grow into a baby. If pregnancy does not occur, the lining isnt needed and is shed at the end of each cycle. Progesterone levels start to fall around 12 days after ovulation, which triggers a period.
Periods can last anywhere from 2-7 days and can differ in length from one cycle to the next.
What Periods Are Considered Irregular
Women typically get their periods once every 28 days or so. For some women, this happens like clockwork, but others have cycles that are much less predictable.
Your periods are most likely irregular if:
- The number of days between your periods starts to change
- The amount of blood you lose is more or less than usual
- The duration of your periods varies
Recommended Reading: When Do You Ovulate Before Period
For Many Women That Time Of The Month Isnt Actually A Monthly Occurrence At All
In fact, about one third of women do not have regular periods. This can mean that the time between periods is very long, or changes from cycle to cycle.
Having irregular periods isnt always a bad thing, but it can definitely be a nuisance. Like when it arrives when youre unprepared, or when you are planning to go on holiday.
More seriously though, irregular periods add a degree of difficulty to getting pregnant or can be the first signal that something else may be wrong with your health.
So how do you know if your periods are normal? What is a normal length of time between periods? And how irregular can they be before you should start to worry?
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.
Don’t Miss: Exercises To Make Your Period Come Faster
What Causes Irregular Periods
14 February 2020 by – Dr Demetri C Panayi
After puberty, a woman will have a regular menstrual cycle, with periods occurring around the same time every month. The average menstrual cycle is around 28 days, however, a cycle will vary between each individual person and can typically last for between 24-35 days.
Many women experience irregular periods , such as starting earlier or later in their cycles, being particularly heavy or light, or lasting for a prolonged amount of time.
Your monthly cycle is often a good indication of your overall health, which is why it is important to keep track of your period and book a doctors appointment if it starts behaving erratically. Of course, there are various reasons as to why a period may become irregular, and not all will require medical attention.
Continue reading, as we discuss several common causes of irregular periods, what they might mean for your health and when you should see a doctor.
Reasons That You Might Not Get A Period
The absence of a menstrual cycle for at least six months in someone between about 12 and 49 years old is known as amenorrhea. Several different health conditions can cause you to have a missed period .
The most common cause of amenorrhea is pregnancy. This is the first thing that should be ruled out whenever you have a sudden change in menstrual cycle length. You can rule this out by taking a home pregnancy test or seeing a healthcare provider for a test in the office .
The lack of a menstrual period is most commonly classified into two categories.
Don’t Miss: How To Masturbate On Your Period
Should I Be Concerned If My Cycle Has Changed
Any change in your normal menstrual cycle may be a cause for concern. A change in your cycle could be:
- you have a period more often or less often than is normal for you
- your period does not come at all, this is called amenorrhoea
- your bleeding is heavier or lighter than usual
- your period is longer or shorter than is normal for you
What Can Cause Missed Periods
The most common reasons for missing periods are being pregnant, using hormone contraceptives and menopause.
Periods are often irregular during the first few years after your periods start, and again in the years before the menopause. They can happen more or less often, or be lighter or heavier, than usual.
Periods can also be irregular as a result of imbalanced hormones. There are a number of reasons why hormonal imbalance may occur. This can be due to a sudden change in weight , which may occur with a change in your exercise levels or with a change in your eating patterns. Interestingly, for some women losing weight and starting exercise may make your periods come back more regularly.
Stress and being unwell can also cause you to miss a period, particularly when the stress occurs in the interval between a period and when you would normally ovulate.
Women who have eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, also will stop having regular periods usually associated with a change in weight.
When hormones become imbalanced, periods can stop altogether. This is called amenorrhea or no periods. Regular periods can return with lifestyle changes, although this can take some time and be difficult. Your doctor can help you find a specialist to support you through these changes.
Read Also: What To Do When You Re On Your Period
Random Reasons Why Your Period Is Totally Out Of Whack
Heres what to do when everythings NOT coming up roses.
Most women’s cycles last anywhere from 21 to 35 daysbut about one in 10 have irregular periods or super heavy bleeding, according to the National Institutes of Health. That can mean lots of things, from a period that goes MIA, to periods that are completely unpredictable, to bleeding that drags on for eight days or more, to random spotting.
“Most women are pretty attuned to their period, though changes can occur through decades and after kids,” says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., an ob-gyn in in New York. “But if you still think something’s wrong with your period after a month or two, get it checked out.”
Jessica Shepherd, M.D. , an ob-gyn in Chicago, notes that sometimes, changes can be a sign of something more serious. “We may look for an STD or do a biopsy to make sure it’s not something that needs to be treated,” she says.
Here are a few reasons why your period might go wonkyand what you can do about it.
What Can Cause Irregular Periods
There is a huge range of reasons why someone might not be experiencing a regular cycle, and its always a good idea to talk with your doctor if that happens. Lets break down a few common causes of irregular periods, according to the Mayo Clinic:
A few other factors that may contribute to menstrual irregularities:
- Birth control: People are sometimes put on birth control to regulate their cycles. Most people return to a regular monthly cycle within weeks or months after stopping birth control, but this can vary depending on your body and the type of birth control you were on .
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis occurs when tissue thats similar to the lining of the uterus starts to grow outside of the uterus. It often grows on the ovaries or fallopian tubes, and sometimes on other organs. Endometriosis can cause pain during and before menstruation, heavy periods, irregular bleeding, and painful intercourse.
- Hypo- and hyperthyroidism: Your thyroid helps control your menstrual cycle. Too much or too little thyroid hormone can make your periods very light, heavy, or irregular. Thyroid disease can also cause your periods to stop for several months or longer, a condition called amenorrhea, or may result in abnormal uterine bleeding.
- Stress: Experiencing stress can tell certain non-essential body systems to shut down. Its not uncommon to have changes to your menstrual cycle during stressful times.
Also Check: How To Count Safe Days After 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.
Should You Be Concerned If Your Period Is Irregular
A couple of irregular periods per year are usually nothing to worry about. Any more than that, and you should see a doctor to be sure an ovulation problem or health condition isnt the cause. If you are someone who’s not on contraceptives and not of age for perimenopause or menopause and your periods are irregular, you should alert your physician. For example, if you do have PCOS, an irregular cycle can increase your risk of uterine cancer, says Lynn.
Recommended Reading: What Is Considered Heavy Period Bleeding
Why Is My Period Irregular All Of A Sudden
Sometimes, irregular periods can be caused by some medicines, exercising too much, having a very low or high body weight, or not eating enough calories. Hormone imbalances can also cause irregular periods. For example, thyroid hormone levels that are too low or too high can cause problems with periods…. read more
Many Things Can Cause Irregular Periods
You know that stress youve been feeling about your new job or moving into a new house? It can wreak havoc on the regularity of your cycle.
During times of your life that are more stressful, your period could be more irregular, Zhang says. This could mean it comes later or even skips a month.
Other things that can cause irregular periods include weight gain or loss medical conditions like a thyroid disorder or ovulatory dysfunction high levels of testosterone, such as what happens to women who have polycystic ovary syndrome or putting a lot of stress on your body due to a strict exercise regime, which sometimes happens to female athletes.
And, for those who are wondering, infertility can cause irregular periods but not the other way around, Zhang says. If youre experiencing fertility issues and arent menstruating regularly, theres probably an underlying medical issue that you need to address, so make sure to talk with your doctor.
You May Like: Why Do I Get Depressed Before My Period
Why Does My Period Change Colour
Periods can vary in colour, from bright red to very dark brown/black. Blood that is shed quickly is generally much brighter than blood that has been sitting around for longer. This is why brighter blood is often seen at the beginning of a period, while darker blood generally occurs towards the end. It is also not unusual for light periods to be darker than heavier periods. This is because the colour of blood is altered as it flows more slowly. Small blood clots are generally no reason for concern, as blood naturally clots when it sits around for a while in the uterus before it is shed.
How Much Of A Delay Is Normal In Periods
Worried about a late period, but know youre not pregnant? Missed or late periods happen for many reasons other than pregnancy. Common causes can range from hormonal imbalances to serious medical conditions.
There are also two times when its typical for your period to be irregular: when it first begins, and when the menopause transition starts. As your body goes through the transition, your cycle can become irregular.
Most people who havent reached menopause usually have a period approximately every 28 days. However, a healthy menstrual cycle can range from every 21 to 40 days. If your period doesnt fall within these ranges, it could be because of one of the following reasons.
Recommended Reading: Best Period Underwear For Heavy Flow
Uterine Polyps Or Fibroids
Polyps, which afflict 24% of women in their lifetimes, can range from a few millimeters in size to several centimeters and can cause spotting, says Johnson.
Note: Polyps are normally benign, and if they’re small they may resolve on their own. However, larger growths can be cancerous or lead to cancer, in which case your doctor will likely remove the polyps. Cancer in polyps is not common in premenopausal people.
Meanwhile, fibroids, which about 20% to 80% of women will develop during their reproductive years, can cause heavy or unusually long menstrual cycles. They can grow to more than 8 inches. But, unlike polyps, fibroids are less likely to lead to cancer.
How Do I Know If My Cycle Is Normal
Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period and continues until the first day of your next period. How long your period lasts and how often you get your period is different for everyone.
Normal menstrual cycles range from 21 to 35 days long, with an average of 28 days. Periods usually last from 3 to 7 days.
If you always have approximately the same number of days between periods, your menstrual cycle is regular. If your periods dont follow a pattern, they are irregular. This is called oligomenorrhoea.
For a year or two after you first get your period, its normal for your menstrual cycle to be irregular. For most women, periods will eventually become regular. However some women never develop a regular cycle.
Don’t Miss: What Age Can You Get Your Period