What causes periods to be irregular?
Periods are part of a larger cycle you go through, usually anywhere from 21-32 days, and if you aren’t keeping track, they can come up and surprise you. But what about when it comes up and surprises you even when you are tracking? What causes periods to be irregular? Let’s find out five different reasons why.
As mentioned in a previous article, hormones impact almost everything in your body. Similar to ‘there’s an app for that,’ but ‘there’s a hormone for that.’ Hormones are how your body tells itself what it needs to do next, so if your hormones are off because of illness, stress, pregnancy, or pregnancy loss, you may be in for a surprise visit from Aunt Flo when you aren’t expecting her in town.
If your body is starting to feel different overall, and you are above 40, your body may be moving into perimenopause, impacting your hormones as it transitions into menopause. If you’ve been experiencing hot flashes, mood swings, and changes in libido in addition to irregular periods, it’s worth heading to a doctor to talk.
We don’t give bodies enough credit for all we put them through while on this Earth. Between news, events, hustle culture, and expectations, stress can create wear and tear on your body as time does.
Still, stress can harm you more drastically through ulcers, migraines, and muscle tension; if you are highly stressed, it can also make your period irregular.
Unless you are a 15-year-old gymnast, the odds of this happening to you are slimmer, but if you pick up a new workout routine and go all-in with no ramp-up or transition time, it can take a toll on your body and lead to irregular periods. Combine extreme workouts without proper aftercare and nutrition with low body weight, and it can screw with your hormones. This change can cause (you guessed it) your period to shift from its regular show time of every 28 days to who knows when.
Hormonal birth control is effective because it alters your body’s direction to your uterus, which keeps an egg from dropping each month. As you start or stop a new birth control, there is bound to be some change in your period and its timing. Remember, if you have a period when you are on birth control, technically, you are having a medical release or withdrawal bleeding.
This bleeding occurs because of the placebo pills, as no hormones are in that week. Your ‘period’ may feel the same as it would if you weren’t taking pills, but if you change or stop taking the medications, you may bleed more or less, and that’s completely normal.
PCOS or other medical illnesses
Another cause to be aware of is if you have PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, or another illness. Each of these first three can directly impact the intensity and length of your period. If you are bleeding more than ten days in a row, or experiencing severe cramps above average, talk to a doctor about being tested or starting the process to see what is happening with your hormones and body.
Overall, periods can shift and change, what’s normal for one person may not be typical for another, and that’s okay. What’s important is that you know your body and can sense when things are not feeling good. Track your cycle, give yourself the knowledge and power you need to live your life and stay in the flow!