7 Causes of Irregular Periods
Getting their period is, for most people a regular part of their lives, that is relatively predictable, hopefully causing little interruption to their everyday lives. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. For some, periods can be unpredictably irregular, frustratingly long, uncomfortably heavy or painfully, well painful.
Irregular periods are more difficult to prepare for and can also come with more severe PMS symptoms, heavier flows or last longer than average.
But what exactly classifies a period as a regular period? A regular period comes around 21 to 35 days apart; from the first day of one period to the first day of the next, they can typically last anywhere from 2 to 8 days and although the flow will vary from one individual to another, it should not exceed needing to change a pad or tampon every 1 to 2 hours.
Causes of Irregular Periods
It’s useful to keep a diary of your periods to identify if they are regular or irregular. In most cases, irregular periods or missed periods are not signs of a serious health condition. However, irregular periods can be a symptom of an imbalance in your body or a condition that needs to be addressed.
- You’re Pregnant
This one may be obvious, but we can’t ignore it. If you miss a period, it’s always worth checking to see if this may be the reason, even if you think it’s unlikely.
Endometriosis is one of the most common causes of irregular periods. It often manifests in heavier than normal, longer than normal and/or more painful than normal periods.
The symptoms of Endometriosis differ from patient to patient, and some suffer more widely than others. It can lead to infertility, but not in all cases. While it isn’t always treatable, there are things your doctor can do to minimise the physical discomforts and help regulate your periods, so they are more manageable. So, it’s important to get any symptoms related to Endometriosis checked out with your GP or Gynaecologist.
It is common for a missed period or a very light period to be a sign that someone is underweight. If you’ve been skipping meals, not meeting the minimum calorie requirement, your nutrition lacking or over exercising, this can trigger missed or irregular periods. On the flip side of this, obesity can also trigger irregular periods. This is mainly due to the impact on hormone production and insulin levels.
The average age of the menopause is 51 in the UK. However, symptoms of the menopause can often begin much earlier than this. The perimenopause can include symptoms such as missed or irregular periods, anxiety, mood swings, hot flushes and fatigue. These can last for years before and after the actual menopause. So, it would not be uncommon to start getting missed periods in your 40’s due to perimenopause. Early menopause is rare but will also cause irregular periods at an earlier age.
- Birth control
There are multiple forms of hormonal birth control that can cause light or missed periods. These include the IUD or IUS, the pill, implant or injection. This is due to the impact on your hormone levels. Sometimes, birth control is used for other reasons, for example to help improve gynaecological issues or skin conditions and the effect on the periods is a side effect to this.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is common in the UK, caused by hormone imbalances, the symptoms include irregular periods, increased body hair, acne and affected fertility. Irregular periods are one of the most consistent symptoms of PCOS. While there is currently no “cure”, diet and lifestyle changes can certainly help, so the sooner it is diagnosed, the better.
No surprise here. Stress is often the answer to so many ailments in our bodies and is responsible for so much! When our Cortisol hormone is activated regularly or unnecessarily, it has an impact on many other hormones within our body. It can affect our sleep, digestion, appetite, immune system and of course, menstrual cycle and fertility. Irregular periods can be triggered by stress. It is hard to quantify this and is more a case of ruling out other physiological causes and assessing psychological causes.
There are many other factors that can have an impact on the menstrual cycle and cause irregular periods, such as general health, existing medical conditions, thyroid problems, diabetes, cancers etc. However, the above seven are often the main culprits to rule out in the first instance before getting too concerned about more serious conditions.
Would you like to find an answer for your menstrual cycle irregularities? Contact Practice for Women now for an appointment on 07805 354110 or email email@example.com