Some people find their periods are like clockwork. Others, however, experience periods that are more irregular — they don’t always come when they’re supposed to, they’re lighter or heavier than they should be, and sometimes, they don’t come at all. But when you know you’re not pregnant, and this issue occurs regularly, what could be behind your irregular periods?
At Progressive Women’s Health in Friendswood, Texas, Dr. Asia Mohsin sees many patients who have irregular periods, and she wants people to know it’s common. There are a number of reasons that could be behind you irregular periods, and here, we share seven possible causes.
You may know you’re not pregnant but you’re also not close to menopause. In girls who are just starting to get their periods, irregular menstruation is very common, but in women in their 40s, this can be common for another reason: as a sign of perimenopause.
Perimenopause is the time where your body is transitioning between menstruation and menopause. If you’ve always had regular periods and you’re starting to notice irregularities, they could be an indicator of this condition.
Whether you’re on the pill or using an intrauterine device, it could be possible your birth control is creating havoc with your cycle. The hormones in these medicines can cause fluctuations in your body, making you miss periods or making them come irregularly. This is especially common when switching between one type of birth control and another.
Stress can also be a factor in causing irregular periods. Sometimes, it can be physical stress, such as working out too intensely, which can trigger the body to cease menstruation or at least to do so less frequently. Emotional stress can also cause problems for your cycle; in some cases, this can be a sign of a serious, stress-related condition called Cushing syndrome.
You could have irregular periods if you have either an under- or overactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism means there is either too little or too much of your thyroid hormone in your body, which throws it out of its natural rhythm. This can easily be diagnosed by your doctor and treated with medication.
Periods are considered irregular if they include light menstruation or periods that come sporadically, if at all. However, irregular periods can also be those that last longer or cause more blood loss than normal. One of the common causes for this type of heavier, irregular period is polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS can cause the ovaries to become enlarged and cysts to form on them. We can often treat PCOS with hormonal birth control, such as the pill.
As with stress-related irregular periods, having an eating disorder can shut down your body’s ability to menstruate or can make menstruation much less regular. Still, this is a very serious problem that needs to be addressed promptly. An eating disorder also features other symptoms, such as a strange attitude toward food, secretive behavior, jitteriness, or impulsivity.
Certain medications can cause periods to become irregular. Some of these include chemotherapy, antidepressants, blood thinners, and even aspirin and ibuprofen. Talk with Dr. Mohsin, who may be able to put you on a different medication if the one you’re taking is causing menstrual irregularities.
Don’t see the cause of your menstrual irregularities here? You might be experiencing this side effect as a result of another problem.
If you’re experiencing menstrual irregularities, contact the compassionate team at Progressive Women's Health. Call 281-993-4072, or make an appointment online at your earliest convenience.