What Irregular Periods Could Mean
Sometimes it's no fun to have your period, but when it doesn't arrive on time—or at all—it can cause serious anxiety. Relieve your mind by investigating the root cause of irregular periods so you can be on your way to the most appropriate treatment.
What could it be?
In a perfect world, we'd all have reliable menstrual cycles to avoid mishaps and discomfort. But life has a way of interrupting these cycles, causing frustration at the very least and fear of disease at the worst. Luckily, in many cases an irregular period isn't pointing to a serious health issue. But if yours is erratic and you're not sure what's going on, it's a good idea to do some digging to rule it out.
You might have irregular periods if ...
Your birth control is out of whack. Yes, many women take birth control pills specifically to regulate their periods. But these hormonal pills can affect your cycle in other ways, leading to both light and irregular periods. Same goes if you use an intrauterine device (IUD) or are on medications that inherently interfere with your cycle.
You're pregnant or nursing. However remote the possibility, it's a good idea to rule out whether you're pregnant. Pregnancy can obviously cause missed periods, but it can also lead to spotting, so get yourself an at-home test and see what's up. Similarly, nursing can cause hormonal fluctuations that occur after childbirth. Once breastfeeding stops, your cycle should return to normal.
You're experiencing perimenopause. Irregular periods are a hallmark of this phase, which occurs just before menopause (and the end of periods forever). There are hot flashes and mood changes, sure, but this side effect perhaps causes the most frustration among women. Fortunately, natural ways to get your cycle back on track, including seed cycling, have proved to be effective at managing this phase of life.
You're overweight or underweight. Even mild obesity can mess with your hormones and insulin levels, leading to irregular cycles. Similarly, being severely underweight—or living with an untreated eating disorder—can lead to irregular periods among other symptoms, including hair loss.
You're exercising too much. Excessive exercise puts a physical strain on the body, and your menstrual cycle is not immune. Essentially, when you overdo it on exercise, the hormones responsible for menstruation and ovulation are affected. This can lead to amenorrhea, or missed cycles.
You're stressed. Research shows that stress can affect many elements of our health, including menstrual cycles. Fortunately, once the stress diminishes, so do irregular periods. Here are some tips on managing stress to get your cycle back on track.
You have a more serious health issue. Irregular periods can signal a more serious underlying health condition, from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid issues to fibroids, endometriosis, and endometrial or cervical cancer. If your periods are irregular and you've essentially ruled out the aforementioned potential causes, it's time to schedule a visit with your gynecologist.