4 Top Causes of Irregular Periods
Women’s bodies are constantly changing, which can cause many to believe their cycle might be irregular. Keep in mind that it's normal to have irregular periods for the first few years of menstruating; however, if the irregularities continue, you should speak with your doctor as it could be caused by a more serious issue. So how do you know if your cycle is irregular?
When is your menstrual cycle irregular?
Here are a few basic symptoms that may suggest your menstrual cycle is irregular:
- Bleeding or spotting between periods.
- Heavy bleeding during your period.
- Menstrual bleeding that lasts longer than normal.
- Bleeding after you've reached menopause.
- Missed, early, or late periods.
An irregular cycle is inconsistent in length and can cause dramatic changes in your blood flow. A regular cycle normally lasts about 28 days and is considered irregular if it occurs earlier than 21 days or longer than 35 days. They can generally be caused by hormone changes, hormonal imbalance, around the time of menopause expectancy and excessive exercise. But what are the other reasons? Here is a list of the top 4 causes of irregular periods.
It’s normal to experience stress—we all do! However, feeling an excessive amount of can actually do harm to our body. Stress can cause an ovulation, which is when your body doesn’t release an egg every month as per usual. When your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol, it can put a halt on your ovulation. So how do you maintain stress?
- Get enough sleep
- Make time for yourself
These are just a few ways to help your body destress. See more ways to destress here.
Puberty and menopause are just two hormonal influences that can be a cause for period irregularity.
You can expect your first period between the ages of 8 and 15. When it arrives, it’s common for your cycle to be irregular for about 2 years. After that, your cycle should begin to regulate—if it doesn’t, it may be because of rapid weight change, stress or other underlying causes.
You may start a menopausal transition between the ages of 45 and 55. You may experience irregular periods as your body will be slowing down ovulation, making it more unpredictable. The length and time of your periods may fluctuate. Your flow may be heavy or light and you may even skip some periods.
Excessive weight loss or gain
Losing or gaining an excessive amount of weight in a short period of time can cause your cycle to become irregular. If overweight, it’s possible for your body to produce too much estrogen, a hormone that helps regulate the reproductive system. When your body is producing too much estrogen, it can affect how often you have periods and can even cause your period to stop. If you’re underweight, it’s possible for your body to have a low blood count, also called anemia, which can cause you to have migraines, feel dizzy, and feel fatigued. Because of this, you may experience irregular periods or find that your period has stopped. This is a common cause for first periods being delayed or absent.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Commonly known as PCOS, this is a condition that affects women more so during their childbearing years but can occur anytime between the ages of 15 to 44. PCOS is caused by a hormonal imbalance that causes skipped periods and problems with fertility.
Common symptoms include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Excessive hair growth - on the face, back, and chest
- Weight gain
- Dark patches on the skin
It’s often characterized by enlarged ovaries with small cysts on them. With a blood test, pelvic exam and/or ultrasound, your doctor will be able to tell if you have PCOS. Lifestyle changes are the start of treating this syndrome. If you’re experiencing weight gain symptoms, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can be a start to help improve this syndrome.
Make sure you speak with your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, as irregular periods can be a warning sign of a more serious health issue.