Why Do I Have an Irregular Period?
By: Anika In't Hout
Yayyy, you got your first period! Congrats! Now, you are part of the period club, a club where each month, aunt flo will knock on your door and come to stay for a little while. How long aunt flo stays is different for every person, but the typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long, lasting two to seven days. Even if your cycle isn’t exactly 28 days long, your periods are still seen as regular if they come every 21 to 45 days for teens and 24 to 38 days for adults. If your menstrual cycle often falls out of these regular ranges, chances are that you have an irregular period. While most people think if you’re irregular, then you’re pregnant. But in actuality, there are many reasons why your period may be irregular. Here are some reasons why you might have an irregular period and what you can do about it.
Reasons why you might have an irregular period
New to your period
If you just got your first period, don’t stress if your cycle is irregular because it’s totally normal. It’s been shown that in the first two or three years after you get your first period, your period may be irregular as your body gets used to this new change.
If you’re taking certain kinds of medications, it’s definitely possible that they’re giving you an irregular period. Whether you take birth control or take medications like aspirin, ibuprofen or antidepressants, medication can sometimes mess with your menstrual cycle.
If you’re experiencing lots of stress, it turns out that it can actually cause irregular periods. Whether you’re stressed about school, friends, family or something else, it’s been shown that stress can get in the way of your cycle as it messes with the part of the brain that controls hormones and regulates your cycle.
Another reason for an irregular period is if you are a little bit overweight, underweight or dealing with an eating disorder. While being overweight often causes an irregular period because of your hormone and insulin levels, really quick weight loss and not eating enough calories can make your period irregular too.
Even though exercise is great, exercising intensely and excessively is known to mess with your menstruation hormones and make your periods irregular or even stop altogether. So if you have workout a lot or have intense sports practices on a regular basis, there’s a chance it may be starting to affect your period.
While not as common, hormone imbalances also cause irregular periods sometimes. So if you have extra androgen or really high or low thyroid hormone levels, it just might explain why your period is irregular.
What to do if you have an irregular period
If you have an irregular period, first things first is to find out what’s causing it.
If you just got your period or have only had it for two or three years, don’t worry about it because eventually it will become regular. If not though, look at what’s going on in your life. Are you taking certain medications? Do you workout six days a week? Are you really stressed out about something going on at school or home? Once you know the cause, then you can find ways to fix it.
If you’re taking medications and it’s giving you an irregular period, ask your doctor if you can try something else. If you’ve experienced weight changes recently, maybe look into changing what you eat or looking into treatment plans for eating disorders. If you’re experiencing lots of stress, try reaching out for help from a counsellor or helpline, or even try some coping activities like meditation, working out or trying out a new hobby. If you’re exercising really intensely many times a week, try to cut back on how often or how intensely you exercise. With a few changes, you’ll be able to get your cycle back on track.
When to see a doctor for an irregular period
According to Kids Health, book an appointment with a doctor if you experience any of the following:
- You were having regular periods that then become irregular
- You stop getting your period
- You have extra hair growth on the face, chin or chest
- You start having periods that last longer than 7 days, are heavy, or are coming more often than every 21 days
- Your period comes less often than every 45 days
- You have severe cramping or abdominal pain
- You have bleeding in between your periods
- Your periods are irregular for 3 years or more
The bottom line
Irregular periods may seem stressful or scary, but if you just got your period or got it two or three years ago, they’re a totally normal part of puberty. If it has been longer than three years though, reflect on what’s going in your life that could be causing your irregular periods. Then talk to your doctor and see what can be done to get your cycle more regular.
About the Author
Meet Anika, our content creator and copywriter! In her final year at Western, she’s studying media and creative writing. Even though it’s been a while since she had to deal with the awkwardness of buying her first bra, she is excited to join the Apricotton team and make bra shopping a little bit easier for tween and teen girls. You can connect with her here.