Many women will experience missed periods at one time or another during their life. Whether due to anxiety, tension, or the expectation of pregnancy, periods can become erratic. However, fluctuations in hormonal balance can also significantly affect a women's menstrual cycle. Spotting, bleeding between cycles, or heavy bleeding are all normal symptoms of menstrual irregularities.
Read on to learn about the causes of irregular periods and what action you can take in order to get your period back on track.
Why Is My Period Irregular?
The definition of “regular” varies among women. Normally women experience a menstrual cycle every 24 to 35 days, with 28 days being the average. Most women will develop a regular cycle during the course of puberty, with the same amount of days between each cycle. The average period should last between two and seven days, the average being five days.
Many medical experts will argue that a missed period or two is normal during the course of a year. But increased irregularities in the menstrual cycle, such as a period occurring more than once a month, or a disruption to the natural hormonal chain of events can indicate more serious concerns.
Several factors can be responsible for missed or irregular periods. These include:
- Weight gain or loss
- Poor nutrition
- Excess caffeine or alcohol use
- Eating disorders
- Specific medications
- Hormonal imbalance due to perimenopause
- Drug use
- Anxiety or stress
- Abnormalities of the uterus
When Is a Period Considered Irregular?
A period is considered irregular and a doctor's advice should be sought if:
- You are bleeding between periods.
- Your periods are lasting longer than one week.
- There is less than three weeks between your periods.Your periods are very heavy, where you need to change your tampon or pad under every two hours.
- You are bleeding after sex.
There are many causes of irregular periods, which are most commonly experienced during puberty and menopause, yet most women experience irregularity due to imbalances of hormone levels within the body.
Missing a period can be considered normal in some cases but learning to recognize the causes and symptoms of an irregular period is important for your body and peace of mind. Look at the possible causes to help get your body back on schedule. Click on the following link to learn more about the different available treatments for irregular periods.
- Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007