Having irregular periods may not necessarily indicate a health problem. Sometimes this is just the way your body works. There might be a reason behind the sudden change in your periods. Consider seeking medical care if there is enough time to check everything is okay. Our article describes symptoms, causes, and when medical assistance is needed.
What does an irregular period mean?
Most women develop a regular cycle after puberty with a similar interval between periods. However, it is not unusual for it to differ by a few days. While it is normal for a menstrual cycle to be shorter or longer than 28 days, cycles between 21-35 days are considered within the normal range. An irregular period occurs when your menstrual cycle (the gap between your periods beginning) keeps changing. Calculating your periods is difficult due to the irregularity.
Irregular periods can have many causes. Uneven periods may be normal for you at times, but they can also be an indication of something else.
What causes irregular periods?
Puberty: During the first couple of years, your periods may be irregular before settling into a cycle
Menopause starts. Usually, between the age of 45 and 55, it causes irregular menstrual cycles.
Early pregnancy. Menstrual irregularities or bleeding between cycles can be a sign of pregnancy. Check by taking a pregnancy test.
You have given birth recently. After giving birth or breastfeeding, many women find that their menstrual cycle takes time to return to regularity. Normal periods should return after a few months of childbirth or breastfeeding. There are several reasons why your periods can change and be irregular after childbirth, including the fact that your uterus takes time to return to its normal size, as well as the shifting hormones caused by pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Some hormonal contraception. It is possible to have irregular or nonexistent periods when using contraceptives such as the contraceptive pill or intrauterine system (IUS or IUD). If you’re not sure whether your contraception is working properly, consider taking a pregnancy test.
Stress or excessive exercise. Stress and excessive exercise affect the hormones involved in the menstrual cycle, causing missed or irregular periods.
Medical conditions. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or thyroid problems are examples.
When should I consult a doctor?
- You’re under 45, and suddenly your periods become irregular.
- When you have periods, more frequent than every 21 days or less frequently than every 35 days
- Your periods last more than seven days.
- A big difference exists between the shortest and longest menstrual cycle (at least 20 days)
- Your periods are irregular, and you are having difficulty getting pregnant.
- You have not got your periods back within six months after giving birth or six months after you have stopped breastfeeding.
- If your periods suddenly change, it might be a good idea to get checked out to find out what might be going on.