Irregular periods can be a cause for concern. When you are used to it arriving like clockwork and it suddenly becomes elusive, or more frequent than usual… you might be wondering what’s going on with your body.

When everything is in perfect working order, the menstrual cycle should be predictable enough. However, when your body starts to change over time, or when something goes wrong with it, you might notice that your periods become irregular. 

irregular periods
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The menstrual cycle is measured from the first day of your last period to the first day of your next period. The average menstrual cycle is around 28 days but it can vary between women.

Some may get theirs every 21 days, while others might get their period every 37 days. Anything over 38 days (or variable durations each month) would be considered irregular.

If you think you have irregular periods it might be worth consulting a Doctor. The reasons for irregular periods can be diverse, but in this article we’ll outline five of the most common causes of irregular periods…

1. Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the name of the phase when you are transitioning to the menopause. During this time your estrogen levels will fluctuate before starting to dwindle.

Perimenopause can last for up to ten years before the menopause sets in; at which point, your periods will stop completely. This process usually starts in the early 40s (although for some it can begin earlier) and might complete anywhere from four to ten years later.

How do you know if perimenopause is the cause of your irregular periods? You’re likely to notice a few other corresponding symptoms, such as:

How to treat the problem: In order to rebalance your hormones, your Doctor might prescribe oral contraceptives or hormonal IUDs (uterine coils).

Some women find that CBD oil helps to restore balance, and others get good results from Vitex (chasteberry). There are lots of things you can do to combat perimenopause symptoms.

Read our article on perimenopause to find out more.

2. Endometriosis

Irregular periods

Endometriosis is a painful condition that is becoming evermore prevalent. This condition affects around one in ten women during their reproductive years. If you have endometriosis, you will find that uterine tissues (those that line your womb) start to grow outside of the womb.

These misplaced tissues will respond to your hormonal cycles in the same way that the womb lining does, meaning that they will start to bleed during your menstrual cycle.

Since this blood has nowhere to go, it coagulates and forms scar tissue in the surrounding areas. Sometimes this scar tissue can fuse organs together, which is very painful, especially around the time of your period.

Some of the symptoms of endometriosis are:

  • Irregular periods
  • Incredibly painful menstrual cramps
  • Excessively heavy bleeding
  • Longer periods
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Pain passing stools
  • Pain during sex (and afterwards)
  • Infertility

How to treat the problem: Unfortunately the only way to be sure you have endometriosis is through exploratory surgery – usually keyhole surgery. Scans rarely pick up the misplaced endometrial tissue.

If you do have it, your Doctor will prescribe a treatment plan. If you want to try and manage the symptoms yourself, you can try out some home remedies for endometriosis.

3. Extreme weight loss

Another cause of an irregular menstrual cycle could be excessive weight loss, or an eating disorder that has resulted in this. If you aren’t eating enough calories your hormonal production can be disrupted, which leads to your ovulation halting, followed by irregular periods, or none at all.

How do you know if you’re underweight? It might not be obvious to you, but you can check out your BMI (body mass index) using a calculator. If your BMI is less than 18.5, you’re probably underweight.

This could well be causing your irregular periods. Another indicator that you’re underweight might be fatigue, hair loss or headaches.

How to treat the problem: the bottom line if you’re underweight is that you need to eat more of the right things. It is possible to gain weight quickly but safely; you’ll just need to take in more calories than your body burns for a while, eat more protein, as well as healthy carbs and fats three times per day.

4. Exercising too much

It is possible to go too far with exercise. The endorphins (happy brain chemicals) released when you exercise can feel addictive, as can seeing your perfect physique forming.

However, if you’re doing too much exercise your hormonal cycles will suffer. In the same way that lack of calories can disrupt the hormones responsible for menstruation, so can excessive exercise.

It is common for female athletes to miss periods or find that they stop completely, which is a sure fire sign they are taking their athletic regimes too far.

How to treat the problem: If you are doing too much exercise and burning too many calories, it is good idea to moderate the activities you do. Perhaps do a lower impact exercise or reduce the frequency of your sessions. At the same time up your calorie intake so that your body can regain hormonal balance.

5. High stress levels

Stress causes irregular periods

It’s no secret that stress causes havoc with the body and mind. When stress causes irregular periods, it’s because your anxiety levels have interfered with the part of the brain responsible for regulation of your hormonal cycle.

Stress can occur for any number of reasons, and it’s not always possible to remove the source of stress from your life immediately. If you’ve been highly stressed and noticed your periods have become irregular, you may need to look into some ways of rebalancing your mental and emotional states.

How to treat the problem: You can reduce stress by adopting some new habits such as meditation, yoga (which helps depression and anxiety), deep breathing at regular intervals in the day, and simplifying your lifestyle. Try making priority lists and dropping whatever isn’t essential for a while.

One way or another, if your periods are irregular you will want to find a way to bring your body back into balance.

Whether you are stressed, underweight, going through early menopausal stages or dealing with a condition like endometriosis, there are things you can do to stabilize your hormones and encourage your periods to return to normal.