Usually, irregular cycles are nothing to worry about but they should not be overlooked. It’s important to keep track of menstrual changes and consult your doctor if you are in doubt.
Menstrual irregularities: identifying problems
Identifying the problem is half the solution. To do so, you should first rule out non-gynecologic causes. For instance, if you’re experiencing bleeding between periods, make sure that it’s not caused by haemorrhoid or coming out of your urethra.
If you suspect something is wrong, start by keeping track of your cycle. Write down when your period starts and ends, the duration of your flow and any variations you may notice (heavy flow, light flow, spotting). Your doctor will need this information to make a diagnosis and recommend a suitable treatment.
Only a doctor can determine if the cause of your irregular period is hormonal or organic.
In case of hormone imbalance, hormonal treatments can restore a regular period. A progesterone deficiency can, for example, be compensated by taking progestin-based medications during the second half of the month.
If the cause is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), oral contraceptives are the most common treatment to induce regular periods and prevent long-term complications.
Menstrual irregularities caused by high prolactin levels can be treated with medications called dopamine agonists.
Depending on the underlying cause, some menstrual irregularities can be treated without medical intervention. Few lifestyle changes are enough to put you on the right track again.
If you have exercise-associated amenorrhea, you can help your period return to normal by increasing your calorie intake and reducing the intensity of your workout.
If your period has stopped or become irregular due to an emotional shock or stress, relaxation techniques may be helpful. Try enjoying some “me” time every day by going to your favourite spot, reading a book, or sitting on your couch and listening to your favourite songs, these moments of serenity will ease your stress and help regulate your cycle.
Obesity can affect the body's ability to ovulate and interfere with your menstrual cycle. In this case, losing weight is the best solution to restore a regular period. If on the other hand, your period was affected by an extreme weight loss, you can consult a nutritionist to help you adopt healthy eating habits that will regulate your weight as well as your cycle.
In all cases, one piece of advice remains clear: if changes in the pace or intensity of your period occur, stay attentive and see if their pattern is recurring.
Also, don’t forget to keep some pantyliners in your bag. Who knows, your long-awaited period may just be on its way!
Sometimes heavy, sometimes light, sometimes here, sometimes not... your period doesn't run exactly like clockwork! From puberty to menopause, most women will experience an irregular period at some point. In most cases, irregularity is perfectly normal, but sometimes, it may be a sign of a more serious problem. Take a look at our guide to find out more.
What causes irregular periods?
There are different physical and psychological factors that can affect your menstrual flow. Here are the most common ones:
- Stress: Since the period is affected by brain function, stress and emotional shock can easily disrupt it. In fact, Cortisol, the stress hormone, directly affects the production of estrogen and progesterone, which alters your normal cycle.
- Dietary habits: Gaining or losing too much weight at once can lead to hormonal fluctuations, a major cause of delayed menstruation.
- Medications: A lot of medications affect the way your body produces estrogen and progesterone. That’s why, when you’re sick, your period may arrive late by a day or two.
- Exercise: Burning too much energy while exercising will drain the body’s strength making it hard for you to menstruate.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome: A common cause consisting of the formation of cysts on the ovaries which affects regular ovulation.
What are the types of irregularities in periods?
- Very light period or Hypomenorrhea: Girls with hypomenorrhea have a very light flow, and their period usually lasts less than 3 days. Moreover, their menstrual blood becomes either light pink or too brown. Sometimes, hypomenorrhea leads to missed or unpredictable periods. This condition is common in teens who have just started menstruation since the hormones controlling ovulation haven’t reached a balance yet. Another cause of hypomenorrhea is excess secretion the hormone that causes lactation. When it occurs in high doses, it disrupts ovulation meaning you will miss your period.If you have a light period, or an abnormally long cycle (longer than 40 days), consult your doctor.
- No period or Amenorrhea: Absence of periods is referred to as amenorrhea. Normally, menstruation doesn’t happen before puberty, during pregnancy, after menopause, and sometimes while breastfeeding. Apart from these normal cases, amenorrhea may be caused by harsh diets, endurance sports, obesity, or certain medications. If all of the above is not applicable and you’re not getting your period when you normally should check with your doctor as this may be the symptom of a medical condition.
- Spotting or Metrorrhagia: Sometimes, between two periods, you may notice small traces of blood on your underwear. This is called spotting or metrorrhagia and can last from several hours to several days. Spotting is usually mild and shouldn’t happen frequently. If it persists, it might indicate a serious underlying condition. Bleeding can, for example, be a sign of hormonal imbalance or vaginal dryness. Consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment options. Wearing a panty liner daily can help you avoid an embarrassing situation and keep you feeling clean and fresh.