Why Women Get Irregular Periods
Updated: Sep 12, 2022
How can you tell if your period is regular or irregular? Perhaps your period came on the 23rd of last month but this month it came on the 26th? Is that an irregular period?
Every one of us is different and so is our menstrual cycle. For some women, their cycle works like clockwork for others it might feel like a game of chance due to its unpredictability. Well, it’s common for your cycle to occasionally vary slightly month after month especially if you are in puberty, breastfeeding or approaching menopause. So then how can we identify an irregular period? If this is a question you have asked yourself before then you should keep on reading.
Defining an irregular period can be hard, but to do this, we first need to define a regular period. Most women have a regular period of about 21-35 days in adults and 21 to 45 days in teens including some personal variations. Period is referred to as irregular when the changes between cycles are more than a week. That means If the cycle varies for more than 7 or 8 days it's seen as irregular. When identifying an irregular period, it is important to ask 2 questions:
Is it the normal pattern or did it suddenly become irregular?
How long is the irregularity? Is it weeks, months or years?
Some women may have extremely irregular periods that include months or a few even years. You’ll be surprised to learn that more than 10,000 Grace Health app users have irregular periods. Since our bodies are all different you can practice asking yourself these two questions and tracking your cycle with the Grace App for an even better understanding.
What causes irregular periods?
There are many reasons why you could be experiencing a menstrual cycle irregularity. Occasional irregular periods are common and not a cause of concern. However, here are some possible causes of irregular periods:
A BMI that’s too high/too low
Intensive physical exercises
Natural hormonal shifts
Hormonal birth control
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
When to seek medical attention?
If you have been having your regular monthly period and all of a sudden the cycle changes significantly you might need to check in with your doctor. The doctor will perform a few tests to rule out pregnancy and other medical conditions. Here are some signs that will tell you to seek medical attention:
Your period is less than 21 days
Your period is more than 35 days
You miss three or more periods in a year
You bleed for more than 7 days
Your flow is much heavier than usual
You experience more pain than usual during your period
Another reason that calls for a check-in with your doctor is if you are trying to conceive and have an irregular period. This could make it difficult to predict your fertile window and the right time to have sex when your chances of getting pregnant are high. You can read about how irregular periods can affect your fertility here!
Can it be treated?
A number of things can be done to help correct irregular periods. These include:
Reaching moderate weight - Being overweight or underweight can impact your menstrual cycle. Many women can get help by correcting their body weight and will find that by reaching a moderate weight the trouble of irregular cycle and excessive body hair growth, for example, will decrease!
Prioritize mental health - when an irregular period is related to stress, anxiety, depression or an eating disorder, it is important to take care of your mental health. This could be through setting boundaries for yourself, doing things you enjoy, taking breaks and so on. For extreme situations don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek therapy.
Changing birth control - Your hormone levels will change at different times of your cycle. However, if after 3 months of hormonal birth control and you have irregular periods you’ll need to consult your doctor to recommend a different birth control method. You can learn more about hormonal birth control and contraceptives by reading the Graceful Guide to Contraceptives
Medications - In some cases where women have underlying conditions that cause period irregularities the doctor may recommend some type of medication to fight/manage the issue. This is especially common for women with PCOS or other conditions.
An irregular period might vary from one woman to another and it's important to identify if it is the usual occurrence or one that happens all of sudden. In many cases, changes in lifestyle and correction of body weight can improve the irregularity but not in all cases. Some women may need to see a doctor, especially if the menstrual cycle turns irregular suddenly or if they have irregular periods and have tried to conceive for a long period without success.
After reading this, do you think you experience an irregular period? Stay informed, stay in control. Click here to download the Grace app