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Why Irregular Periods?

Every woman is different — including her periods. Some happen like clockwork. Others are hit or miss and unpredictable. On average, a woman gets her period every 24 to 38 days. A period usually lasts about 2 to 8 days. If your menstrual cycle is irregular from time to time, it’s probably no big deal.

Is your period irregular — and if so, does it need treatment?

What’s Irregular?

You may have irregular periods if:

  • The time between each period starts to change
  • You lose more or less blood during a period than usual
  • The number of days that your period lasts varies a lot

Causes

Many things can cause irregular periods. Changes in your body’s level of the hormones estrogen and progesterone can disrupt the normal pattern of your period. That’s why young girls going through puberty and women approaching menopause commonly have irregular periods.

Other common causes of irregular periods include:

  • Having an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Changing birth control pills or using certain medications
  • Too much exercise
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Stress
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Thickening of or polyps on the uterine lining
  • Uterine fibroids

Should I Worry About Irregular Periods?

Talk to your doctor if you have had sex and have missed a period because you could be pregnant. Also let the doctor know if:

  • You were having regular periods that then become irregular.
  • You stop getting your period.
  • You have extra hair growth on the face, chin, chest, or abdomen.
  • 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 doctor may prescribe hormone pills or other medicines, or recommend lifestyle changes that can help you to have regular periods.

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