Common Causes of Irregular Periods

Every woman’s period is slightly different. Although your period may not be the exact same as someone else you know, it’s likely that you are aware of when it’s irregular or when something is causing problems.

Irregular periods have many causes, but it’s not always necessary to panic and visit the emergency room. The first step, of course, is to figure out if you’re pregnant. If not, then you can start considering what other factors might be affecting your period. As always, we advise you to consult our women’s health care services for a detailed consultation.

To find out what may be causing irregular periods, see the list of common causes below.

1. Hormonal Birth Control

Any type of hormonal birth control can cause your period to be irregular. This includes both pills and IUDs. While pills may cause lighter periods and spotting, IUDs can cause heavy bleeding. If you suspect this may be the cause of an irregular period, talk to your doctor.

2. Breastfeeding

If you’re breastfeeding, it’s possible your periods can become irregular. This is because prolactin (the hormone that produces breast milk) suppresses your reproductive hormones and can result in very light or missed periods. If this is the case, your period should return to normal shortly after you stop breastfeeding.

3. Perimenopause

This typically happens in your 40s. It’s the transition phase right before you enter into menopause and it can start by making changes to your period. Perimenopause symptoms may also include heat flashes, mood changes, difficulty sleeping, and vaginal dryness. 

4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

A typical sign of PCOS is irregular periods. This can mean missing entire periods or having abnormally heavy bleeding. Unfortunately, PCOS can cause infertility if not diagnosed and resolved in time. PCOS is easily found on ultrasound and your doctor can help you find the right treatment.

5. Thyroid Problems

Studies have shown that many women who have irregular periods also have thyroid problems. Thyroid problems can cause heavy bleeding or lighter periods. You may also notice more painful cramping, fatigue, sensitivity to coldness, and weight gain. If you notice the base of your neck also happens to be swelling, talk to your doctor about potential thyroid problems.

6. Endometriosis

Around 10% of women who are of reproductive age have endometriosis. This causes painful cramps, heavy bleeding, prolonged bleeding, or even bleeding between periods. 

 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis and it can only be diagnosed by exploratory surgery. You can treat the symptoms with medication or hormone therapy, but no long-term solution exists.

7. Weight Fluctuations

Being overweight or gaining weight quickly can have an influence on your period. Additionally, losing weight quickly or being particularly underweight can also cause problems. 

 

Oftentimes, people with eating disorders struggle with irregular periods. Your doctor can help you find the right treatment whether you have intentionally gained/lost weight or not.

8. Stress

Everyone gets stressed at some point in their life, but if you are perpetually stressed, it can affect your period. Stress affects the part of your brain that regulates hormones so until you start to decrease your stress, you may notice your period acting irregularly. 

9. Cervical and Endometrial Cancer

These two types of cancers can have a direct effect on the regularity of your period. They can also cause bleeding during or after intercourse as well as irregular discharge. If you notice bleeding between periods or heavy bleeding, talk to a doctor.

10. Medications

Being on multiple medications can affect your period. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy to change. If you suspect your current medications may be the cause of an irregular period, talk to your doctor about changing prescriptions.

Conclusion

Many women experience irregular periods. Fortunately, it’s not always cause for worry. In fact, your period may go back to normal after a month or so. However, you know your body best so when you know something’s wrong, listen to it and see your doctor. As they always say, it’s better safe than sorry.