An average menstrual cycle lasts between 21 to 35 days with menses lasting from two to seven days. However, not every woman's cycle falls into this range. Although early menstrual cycles are not a problem by themselves, they can sometimes be symptom of an underlying medical condition.
Find out more about early periods, including what causes them and when you should see a doctor, to finally take reign of your reproductive health today.
What Is an Early Menstrual Cycle?
An early menses is a period that happens before you were expecting it to come. Because each woman's average menstrual cycle length varies, what is considered too early will vary from woman to woman. Keep track of your periods for at least three months to get an accurate sense of your cycle length.
Nevertheless, many women experience irregular bleeding or spotting in between periods, which can be confused with an early menstrual period. However, this spotting between periods is often caused by ovulation, birth control, or an underlying medical condition, leading to the following section.
What Causes Early Menstrual Cycles?
There are a variety of causes of irregular periods, including early periods, throughout women's reproductive lives.
For instance, if a woman is on birth control and does not take it as prescribed, this may lead to irregular bleeding or spotting. This is also normal when starting birth control for the first three months.
Also, several underlying medical conditions can cause irregularly early monthly periods. These conditions include:
Polycystic ovary syndrome. This is a common endocrine system disorder in which cysts grow in the ovaries, which can cause irregular periods and bleeding. It is also characterized by symptoms of acne, excessive hair growth, weight gain, and more.
Pelvic inflammatory disease. This infection of the reproductive organs causes the pelvic area to become inflamed. It can cause irregular bleeding and early menses along with symptoms of fever and abdominal pain.
Fibroids. Fibroids are growths in the uterus that cause periods to become heavier and can also cause bleeding between periods. Other symptoms can include lower back or abdominal pain, constipation, pain during sex, and frequent urination.
Furthermore, hormonal imbalances of principle reproductive hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, can also cause a woman to experience early periods. This is common during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and when entering the menopausal transition.
A healthy diet and non-strenuous exercise are also crucial in maintaining regular periods. It is important to exercise regularly and eat healthily so that your body can function properly.
When to See a Doctor
To reiterate, early menstrual cycles in and of themselves are often not an issue upon which to fret, unless they are consistently irregular according to your personal period patterns. For these instances, visit your doctor.
Nonetheless, if you are over 40 and are experiencing bleeding in between periods, or you are postmenopausal and have gone 12 months without a period and are experiencing bleeding again, it is recommended that you see a doctor. Because irregular bleeding in postmenopause may be a symptom of cervical or uterine cancer, it is important to get screened.
For those concerned about their early period due to general hormonal reasons, learn more about treating irregular periods by clicking on the preceding link.
Overall, remember that relief starts and ends with you. Taking action today will lead to a brighter, more predictable period tomorrow.
- Mayo Clinic. (2016). Menstrual cycle: What's normal, what's not. Retrieved November 22, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menstrual-cycle/art-20047186
- NHS. (2016). What causes bleeding between periods? Retrieved November 22, 2018, from https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/womens-health/what-causes-bleeding-between-periods/