I don’t think I actually have to explain why us girls worry about our periods so much because well we have every right to. I mean, we’re not exactly excited for the God-awful cramps, aching backs and stomachs or vomiting. The mood swings aren’t all that great either, but we like to just make sure that we’re not pregnant or have problems with our reproductive system every now and then you know?
Before I dive into this, I’d like to, one, highlight that irregular periods are not always a bad thing. Two, explain what an irregular period is and three, tell you how you know that your period is irregular. We all know or at least heard that the normal length of a menstrual cycle is 28 days but the truth is that’s just a rounded figure that doctors use for statistics and whatever. A regular length of a menstrual cycle can vary from 24 to 34 days, it depends on the person of course. A period is considered irregular if the cycle duration is more than 35 days or if the duration varies. For example, a girl might get her period after 20 days in a month and after 40 the next or if it lasts 4 days one time then 10 days the other, or when the you lose more or less blood during a period than the normal.
Before you panic, because I’m sure that most if the girls reading this have irregular periods, irregular periods are very normal in the first years of menstruation which lasts up to around three years. Basically, throughout puberty and menopause (where women are nearing the age where they can’t have kids no more – around 45 and 55 years if age). They also occur when there is a rapid change in weight, when you’re stressed – which is probably the case with most of us – when you’re overweight or underweight and when you’re doing extreme exercise or endurance training. Of course, a change in contraceptive methods, usage of pills and medicine, especially contraceptive pills and pills that reduce acne affect your menstrual cycle. Also, changes in schedule can result in unpredictable cycles. Like, if you go on a trip and have a major change in schedule, your cycle I likely to change. Also, if you’re on your first year, its very normal for your period to not come for like three months then come back the fourth or something, it’ll be extremely irregular fir the first couple of years, then it’ll be all good.
So, these were the cases where irregular periods are actually okay. However, if your period is too irregular, this could mean something else. Your period is too irregular when it exceeds the extremes that have mentioned listed above. This is when you should seek a doctor because if there is a problem, this is the ideal time to solve it. Anyways, back to the point, if you’re period is too irregular (come more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days, last longer than a week, there’s a big difference between your longest and shortest cycle – at least 20 days difference) this could mean that;
- You’re too stressed
Stress is one of the most common reasons for irregular periods. okay, so I’ll turn this into a biology lesson for just a second so bear with me. Cortisol is the stress hormone and it has a direct impact on the amount of estrogen and progesterone (two sex hormones that basically control your period) produces by the body. If your bloodstream has too much cortisol, this can lead to a major change in the flow and time of your cycle.
- Your diet is hurting your body
If your diet is unhealthy in any way, whether you eat too much food rich in unhealthy carbs or if you’ve gained excess weight to the extent that it’s hurting your body, hormone levels in your body will vary affecting your ovulation. Same goes for those who have unhealthy diets in the sense that they eat too little and menstruate as they lose weight.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is very complicated so I’m going to simplify it as much as possible. Women with PCOS have more male hormones than average and this imbalance in hormones can cause them to skip a cycle making it harder for women to get pregnant. Symptoms of PCOS include hair growth on the face and stomach, more than normal, sometimes baldness.
I don’t think any of us will hit menopause soon but, if you’re around 50 year old and you start getting irregular periods, your body’s just telling you that you’re about to kiss this period hassle goodbye.
- Medication is affecting you
It’s known that medication affects periods greatly because mainly most medication interfere with the way that your body produces your sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone)
The thyroid helps you control your menstrual cycle. Therefore, too much or too little can make your period either too light or too heavy or irregular. Thyroid disease also causes your period to stop for several months or even longer periods of time.
- Exercise-induced amenorrhea
This is the result of missing your periods due to strenuous and endurance exercise. The intense exercise with low intake of calories puts significant stress on your body, thus, physiologic stress and the hypothalamus ( a structure in your brain) that controls your menstrual cycle as it sends signals to your ovaries to trigger ovulation doesn’t send signals as it is interrupted by that stress on your body. So basically, you don’t ovulate, therefore, no period.