Having your menstrual flow is one thing you expect every month for most of your life. However, sometimes the monthly flow can become unpredictable. Some women get their periods like clockwork; others may experience irregular flow or severely painful PMS symptoms that last for days.
Your menstrual cycle starts from the first day of your period until the start of your next period. So then what causes a period to become irregular? On average, women experience a period every 24 days to 38 days. A cycle is longer than 38 days is considered irregular. According to a report by the Office on Women’s Health, an irregular menstrual cycles is classified as either longer than 35 days, or shorter than 21 days.
An irregular period is a common symptom of a variety of health conditions. Although not all of the causes for an irregular period are negative, it can still be beneficial to visit an OBGYN or specialist to determine the cause of your symptoms.
Sometimes pregnancy can lead you to miss your period or even experience spotting, red, dark brown, or pink blood, or blood lighter than what you experience normally. The most common symptoms of early pregnancy include morning sickness, sensitivity to smells, nausea, fatigue, breast tenderness or tingling. If you miss your periods and are experiencing these symptoms, it could be due to pregnancy. However, it’s always better to meet with gynecologist when you notice these symptoms.
It’s completely possible to get pregnant while you have an irregular menstrual cycle, however it may be more difficult. This is because irregular periods usually interfere with your bodies ovulation schedule. It is technically possible to get pregnant at any time during your cycle, it has been proven that conception is more successful during times of ovulation.
Stress triggers a process called anovulation. Because of that process, you may not release your monthly egg like as you’re supposed to. When your body secretes cortisol—a steroid hormone—in higher volumes than usual, it may imbalance sex hormones. These hormones are necessary for regulating ovulation.
Anxiety and stress play a major role in regulating your body’s mood. Some stress can be good to challenge yourself, but too much can have a negative impact on your health. Our bodies are quite sensitive to stress; it can actually interfere with how we normally function. For example, too much stress can disrupt the digestive system, causing frequent urination, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
Your reproductive system also takes a hit when you are too stressed. For some women, stress can cause missed or irregular periods. As stress levels in your body increase, your menstrual period can be stopped temporarily—this condition is referred to as secondary amenorrhea.
3. Extreme Weight Loss
Weight loss can also result in an irregular menstrual cycle and may sometimes cause missed or irregular periods. The faster and more weight you lose, it’s more likely your menstrual cycle will get disrupted.
Significant and sudden calorie restriction paired with intense exercise schedules might cause your body’s stress response to change hormonal levels. And whenever your hormonal levels get disrupted, your ovulation will also get interrupted. Any interruption in your ovulation cycle will cause you to skip your period.
In the case of sudden and extreme weight loss you may experience irregular or infrequent periods. Weight loss due to eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia can mess with your body’s hormones and can lead to a temporary stop to your periods.
4. Uterine Fibroids
Whenever you miss a period, it usually indicates a serious health problem such as fibroids. Uterine fibroids are a common cause of any change that happens in a period’s pattern. Fibroids happen when the muscle tissue grows abnormally within the uterus or on uterine walls. When you have fibroid tumors—or any ovarian cyst, for that matter—you are likely also experiencing a hormonal imbalance. That imbalance can further cause you to miss your periods or disrupt the whole menstrual cycle.
5. Thyroid Problems
Like different body processes, hormonal changes can dramatically alter your body’s menstrual cycle. A key player in maintaining a healthy hormonal balance is your body’s thyroid, a gland located near the base of the neck.
Women are nearly 5-8 times likelier to develop thyroid disorders than men. Women require thyroid hormones or TH to regulate their body’s menstrual cycles and if levels are higher than usual, you’re likely to develop hyperthyroidism, which causes lighter or fewer periods.
Due to lower TH levels, hypothyroidism has a complete opposite effect on periods. When TH levels are lower, your menstrual bleeding will be more frequent and heavier; and cramps will likely be worse than usual. Some additional symptoms of this condition may even include weight gain, dry skin, and tiredness. For checking how exactly your thyroid gland is working, you must have a blood check-up done by your primary physician.
6. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Irregular or missed periods can also be a symptom of PCOS. While having PCOS, it may happen that your periods may stop or get irregular. However, in most cases, if you have PCOS, you may experience lighter or heavier bleeding during your menstruation cycle.
PCOS is a condition that prompts your body to secrete more androgens—male hormones. A high level of androgens can cause hormonal imbalance; which can further lead to the formation of ovarian cysts. When cysts develop near ovaries, the ovulation becomes irregular, or stops completley.
7. Birth Control
A birth control pill has different hormones that prevent you from getting pregnant. However, the hormones in the pill can prevent ovulation, thin the uterus’s lining that prevents the implantation of fertilized eggs, and thicken cervical mucus that doesn’t let sperm from meeting the egg.
Most birth control pills are generally consumed on a weekly basis; the pills in the first three weeks consist of hormones while the ones to be consumed in the final week have no active medication. The pills consumed in the last phase help a person remember taking them daily.
When you consume these placebos correctly, they’re estimated to work in almost 99 percent of the cases. Nonetheless, there are people who are likely to skip their doses. Also, if you vomit after consuming these pills, then that means you aren’t able to digest them; this, eventually, will reduce the pill’s effectiveness. That way, a birth control pill may not protect you from an unplanned pregnancy.
So, eventually, a birth control pill can cause the period to become erratic or may even stop altogether. On the other hand, there are a few seasonal pills that can cause you to have 4 periods every year.
Breastfeeding can often disrupt menstruation cycle for weeks to months, to even years. For some mothers, they’ll have to wean before they get their first period. For others, their period can come relatively early if they switch to formula. However, once menstruation comes back, it may continue to be irregular while lactating.
Missed periods can be a welcome benefit for some mothers who wish to delay their menstruation cycle longer than the baby’s gestation period (40 weeks). Here’s the thing: When your baby arrives in this world, your body is equipped with all the natural nutrients that are required for feeding. Even doctors encourage mothers to breast-feed their babies unless there are some health problems in you or the baby. This mother’s milk is produced by a specific hormone that’s referred to as prolactin.
However, prolactin isn’t just responsible for milk production; this hormone is responsible for preventing regular periods. Breastfeeding can keep the level of prolactin quite high. That means if you nurse for a longer period, you either wont experience a period, or it will be very light. The moment your baby gets off your breast milk, your periods will likely return.
9. Eating Disorders
As per a Swedish study, females who reported that they’ve binge-eaten for the most of their lives missed their periods. Behavioral binge-eating is often related to menstrual dysfunction. Many endocrinological and metabolic factors can underlie this specific association.
Another study said that many younger adolescents may get their first periods quite late. According to the study, these adolescents had eating disorders. Amenorrhea, or the lack of a proper menstruation cycle, may happen whenever the body has insufficient energy levels where the caloric intake isn’t adequate when compared with the amount of energy burned. This energy deficit can mess up the hormonal cycle that’s responsible for regulating menstruation.
10. Intense Exercise
When you start exercising like clockwork, you can expect your body to show a lot of changes. For example, you may lose weight, have sore muscles, get stronger, and get better sleep, but do you know that exercising regularly can change your menstrual cycle?
The first thing that you will likely notice during intense exercise is that you bleed even when you’re not having your regular periods. When you exercise regularly, you’ll experience subtle changes in your hormonal levels; these changes will eventually interfere with your cyclic buildup, promoting the shed your uterine lining.
The bleeding that you experience outside of your menstrual cycle will be either bright or dark red. In general, this kind of blood flow will be much lighter than spotting. You may even experience bleeding immediately after or during a heavy workout.
As we already mentioned earlier, there’s a stress hormone called cortisol. This hormone is responsible for many changes in a woman’s cycle. Whenever you’re depressed, your body is producing cortisol. As the level of cortisol increases, the hypothalamus (an organ in your brain that regulates your reproductive symptom) will stop sending signals to the ovaries. When the ovaries do not receive the signal, they won’t release any eggs, also known as ovulation. Irregular periods may occur as a result of delayed or missed ovulation. Depress can extend your periods, shorten them, or even stop them altogether.
Treatment at USA Fibroid Centers
If you are experiencing an irregular period, we are here for you. At USA Fibroid Centers, we exclusively treat uterine fibroids through the use of non-surgical treatment. Uterine fibroids are one of the most common causes of irregular periods, give us a call to schedule a consultation to determine the cause of your symptoms. We administer our treatment in an office based clinic, which means no expensive, lengthy hospital stay. If you want to verify your insurance before you schedule, just give us a call and we’ll help you figure out your coverage.