Having a normal period is something most of us take for granted. True, we complain and maybe eat a little extra chocolate during this cycle of the month, but when the period doesn’t show up regularly, that’s when we realize how much it can be missed. Irregular menstruation is quite common for many women , but it is still important to explore potential causes and find out what your body is trying to tell you.

A normal period vs. an irregular period

The menstrual cycle (also called period or period), normally occurs every 28 days, is controlled by several hormones and is a key function of the woman’s body.

Your period begins around 11-12 years of age, lasts for 2-7 days, and continues until you reach menopause, which occurs around age 51.

Ovulation is an important part of the menstrual cycle and occurs around day 14 when an ovarian follicle produces an egg, which can be fertilized by sperm.

The egg is only available to be fertilized for 24 hours before it disintegrates. Once you’ve ovulated, your period will occur, which is typically 14 days later.

The amount of blood shed during a period varies from woman to woman. Some women typically have a stronger period (they lose up to 12 teaspoons of blood each month), while others may experience a period that is almost non-existent (the loss of as little as four teaspoons of blood).

If you’ve been menstruating for a while, your body will go into a period of flow, which is why an irregular period is generally defined as any type of bleeding that is abnormal , compared to later menstrual cycles.

It can include everything from a late period to early bleeding, and from little to heavy bleeding.

For many women, this can even mean a missed period (amenorrhea) or two periods in a month (metrorrhagia). S

It is believed that two periods in a month, or one period every two weeks, are caused by an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone and may require a visit to the doctor as this can induce anemia.

And if you are not prone to this syndrome, you can also consider an irregular period if you experience severe cramps, bloating or headaches.

8 causes that explain irregular menstruation

All women experience an irregular menstruation from time to time, and although in most cases they are not dangerous, it is important to find out what is causing this irregularity. Here are some of the most common reasons why you may be experiencing an abnormal period.

1. Stress

Stress is the most common cause of irregular periods . Cortisol, the stress hormone, has a direct impact on the amount of estrogen and progesterone (two sex hormones) that are produced in the body. If you have excess cortisol in your bloodstream, the timing and flow of your cycle may change.

In order for a woman to have a normal menstrual cycle (in which she does not get pregnant), the hypothalamus of the brain must send hormonal signals to the pituitary gland, which in turn sends them to the ovaries, and ultimately to the uterus.

The hypothalamus is adjacent to areas of the brain that influence emotion; The neurotransmitters that form from these centers can turn off signals to the hypothalamus and thus stop the signals outgoing from the hypothalamus.

In evolutionary terms, this makes sense – if a woman is under a great deal of stress, be it physical or emotional, this is probably not the ideal time for a pregnancy, so the system shuts down.

2. Diet as the cause of irregular menstruation

Another common reason for a late or no period is what you eat and, more specifically, how heavy you are. If you are on a diet in which what you eat is rich in unhealthy carbohydrates or if you have recently gained weight, your body will produce different levels of certain hormones, changing the time at which you can ovulate.

The same is true of women who are beginning to lose weight. For a woman to maintain a regular cycle, her body fat percentage has to be at least 17-22 percent.

3. Exercise

Our bodies need energy when menstruating. If you are burning too much of your energy in the gym, there will be nothing left for your body to use during that time of the month.

The list of causes of irregular periods is longer than you might think, but we know that excessive exercise, a sudden change in weight, and a lack of it can counteract your hormonal levels.

One of these hormones is called leptin and it is produced in fatty tissue. Excessive exercise and drastic weight changes can decrease body fat, reducing levels of this and other hormones, which contribute to irregular periods.

4. Birth control pills

It can take several months for your body to get used to the dose of hormones that birth control pills contain. On top of that, one of the side effects of a low-dose birth control pill is a non-existent period.

For many, this is a very welcome side effect. When some women stop taking the pill, it can take one to three months for their periods to return to normal.

The birth control pill does not make you have amenorrhea. It may be that once you go off the pill, you notice some underlying hormonal problem that was masked by taking the birth control pill. If this is the case, the best thing you can do is alert your healthcare professional.

5. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

This syndrome affects up to 5 million women in the US alone, this condition causes cysts to form on the ovaries, which interferes with regular ovulation. Other symptoms of the disease include hair growth, weight gain, dandruff, and infertility.

6. Menopause

As with pregnancy, this time in a woman’s life occurs when hormone levels in the body begin to change. Irregular periods can start 10 years before the onset of menopause (usually when a woman is in her 40s or early 50s). Menopause is the cessation of ovulation, this occurs when all the eggs have been used up.

7. Taking medications as a cause of irregular menstruation

If you’ve been sick recently and have had to take prescription or over-the-counter medications, your period may be a day or two late.

That’s largely because most medications interfere with the way your body makes estrogen and progesterone. There are many medications that can affect your menstrual cycle, from aspirin, Coumadin, ibuprofen and naproxen, birth control pills, Depo-Provera, Nexplanon or Implanon, the Mirena IUD, and thyroid medications.

8. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the female body produces different levels of hormones that cause menstruation to stop .

Pregnancy obviously stops the menstrual period; A period occurs when a prepared endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) fails to implant a fertilized egg.

There is no woman who continues to have periods during a pregnancy. Bleeding in pregnancy is not normal, and usually needs to be investigated. If there is a possibility that you are pregnant, talk to your doctor.

Treatment of irregular menstruation

Unfortunately, not having a period is not how our bodies are designed to function from a hormonal perspective. When you have a period each month, this suggests that your hormones are in balance.

If you are not having your period for more than six months, it is important that you visit your doctor for a general differential diagnosis. If you are having irregular periods, there are treatment options available to you .

Hormonal options, such as the birth control pill or progesterone, are typically used to regulate and balance your periods, but you can also try acupressure or a holistic or functional alternative to try to regulate your menstrual cycle in a natural way.

And as a general rule of thumb for most health problems, if you don’t feel right about something, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for help.

Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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