Irregular periods: what are the causes and solutions?

In theory, a woman has a regular period every 4 weeks, that is, every 28 days. But in real life, women have menstrual cycles that are all different and vary greatly. It is also common for menstruation to be irregular or to arrive a few days early or late. In fact, the length of menstrual periods varies.


What are irregular periods?

In reality, irregular periodsoccur when there is an alternation between long and short cycles in the duration of the period or when the abundance varies from one cycle to another. This happens to almost all women, especially during the first few cycles. Indeed, the first menstrual periods often rhyme with a dysregulated hormonal system, which can even last for a few years. It is also very common during the pre-menopause. But this phenomenon can happen at any time because several factors come into play. We speak of menstruation being irregular when :

  • There are less than 20 days or more than 40 days between each period
  • the length of time between each menstrual flow is very variable
  • The duration of the menstrual flow itself is very variable from one menstrual cycle to another
  • Theabundance of blood loss is very variable from one cycle to the next: abundant one cycle then light the next

For this reason, we recommend menstrual panties that you can wear every day and that will protect you from unpleasant surprises.

What are the causes of irregular periods?

Irregular flows are due to a hormonal system disturbance and many can be the origin in women. It should not be confused with spotting!

Lifestyle

Lifestyle has a phenomenal impact on our body and all its mechanisms, especially the hormonal machine. When the body and its resources are under stress, the reproductive system is among the first to be deregulated to prioritize other vital functions.
Among the culprits of poor lifestyle, we can cite the following factors:
  • A lack of sleep, increased fatigue
  • Stress, anxiety, depression: any stressful situation can affect your menstrual flow
  • Jet lag, or jet lag, which can disorient our internal biological clock: the body struggles to find its natural rhythm, the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, but also those of reproduction are then temporarily disturbed
  • Excessive consumption of drugs: alcohol, tobacco, cannabis but also coffee in high doses
  • A weight at the extremes: a fat mass that is too low leads to the cessation of hormonal secretion, which can even lead to amenorrhea, while a weight that is too high is responsible for an overproduction of estrogen, which disrupts the menstrual flow
  • In the same way, sudden and excessive weight gain or loss: eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa can also be the cause
The more you combine several of these factors, the more irregular your periods are likely to be.


Playing sports intensively

Too much sports puts a lot of pressure on the body. This pressure can then block or disrupt the system by reducing the production of hormones responsible for the regularity of menstruation. High-level sportswomen are therefore regularly affected by unpredictable periods or evenamenorrhea.


Taking medication

Taking medication or hormonal treatment can also influence the regularity of menstrual periods. Substances that increase the level of prolactin in the body can alter the functioning of the female cycle. Taking or stopping a hormone-based contraceptive such as hormonal IUDs or progestin-only pills can reduce menstrual blood loss or even eliminate it altogether in women.

A uterine disease

But irregular periods can also reveal more important problems such as the following gynecological diseases or disorders
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS, a syndrome that also causes acne and excessive hair growth, due to an increase in testosterone
  • Endometriosis, known for its irregular menstruation associated with pain and heavy blood loss
  • Polyp or fibroid
  • Benign tumor or even cancer of the uterus
  • A thyroid orhypothalamus disorder
It is essential to consult your gynecologist or health professional when irregular menstrual bleeding is associated with other symptoms of illness.

When are irregular periods normal?

However, there are cases where it is very common, even normal, to observe an abnormal menstrual flow in its rhythm. Let's discover them together.

The first periods in adolescence

The first bleeding at puberty is very often irregular and anarchic: this is completely normal! In fact, it takes about one to two years for hormone production to become regular, for the female cycle to settle down and for the uterus to find its natural rhythm. The system must find its cruising speed! However, be careful with pregnancy, because an irregular cycle during puberty does not mean that there is no ovulation: it is possible to become pregnant as soon as your period starts!
However, if after 2 to 3 years, menstruation has not become regular, it may be interesting to ask the question to your doctor or health professional to rule out any gynecological disorders. A pill may also be prescribed to give the flow a certain regularity.


Irregular periods after returning from childbirth

Afterchildbirth, the body has undergone a great upheaval and menstruation can be delayed depending on several factors, including breastfeeding. After the lochia (removal of the last of the placental debris) and the return of the menstrual period (the first post-delivery period), it may take several months for the menstrual flow to return to its natural rhythm. The abundance of menstrual flow can also be modified following a pregnancy. However, it is important to keep in mind that fertility can return 2 weeks before the return of menstruation, so it is important to be vigilant during unprotected intercourse or without contraception (pill or other). Its absence or delay may mean that you are pregnant!

Menopause

Perimenopause, the period around the age of 45 when a woman is approaching menopause, is also known to be a time of significant hormone changes: the system begins to function at a slower pace during pre-menopause and stops permanently at menopause. This is thedefinitive end of menstruation, ovulation and therefore fertility! While waiting for this fateful moment, menstruation can be irregular.

When to consult in case of irregular periods?

It is wise to advise your health professional for treatment in the following cases when you observe variable menstruation:
  • If you notice large variations in the length or amount of menstrual flow and this phenomenon is associated with other symptoms
  • A lack of menstrual bleeding, which is difficult to come or even a false anniversary period, can be a sign of a pregnancy that is starting: a pregnancy test will be able to confirm this hypothesis or not.
  • On the other hand, an irregular cycle can be complicated to predict ovulation in the case of a baby project: without it being necessarily a sign of infertility, you can approach your gynecologist to put all the chances on your side

It is also possible to practice alternative medicine to relax and eliminate stress, an aggravating factor for menstruation: acupuncture, osteopathy, yoga, meditation...

The FAQ of irregular periods

When can we talk about an irregular cycle?

Menstruation is irregular when the menstrual cycles are separated by less than 20 days or more than 40 days. The length and amount of bleeding also varies greatly from one cycle to the next.

Is it normal to have irregular periods?

Without this necessarily giving rise to concern, several causes can be at the origin of an abnormally irregular menstrual flow: from a simple hormonal contraception, to a rushed hygiene of life while passing by more severe gynecological affections, it is important to consult if that worries you or that your non regular menstruations are accompanied by other symptoms.


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