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5 Reasons Why Your Periods May Be Irregular

You’ve calculated every way you can, but the numbers aren’t lying. No matter when you consider Day One of your period, it’s not lasting the normal 2-7 days. Or it’s coming at odd times, such as starting early or late, or lasting for too long.

When your reproductive system is healthy, your periods should occur at around the same time each month and last for a week or less. Irregular periods could be a sign that you’re moving into menopause — a time known as “perimenopause” — or they might be a symptom of a health condition that could impair your fertility.

Maria Cole, APRN, FNP-C, and Kelly Wenger, APRN, FNP-C offer women’s health services at Enrich Family Practice in Odessa, Texas. Following are five reasons why your periods may be too short, too long, or unpredictable.

1. You have PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of irregular periods. If you have PCOS, your body produces too much testosterone. Although all women have a little bit of the “male” hormone testosterone as well as “female” hormones such as estrogen, too much testosterone may lead to:

If you have PCOS, we may recommend oral contraceptives to balance your hormones. If you’re hoping to become pregnant, you use the contraceptives for a short time, and then discontinue them so that you can conceive.

2. You have endometriosis or fibroids

Abnormal growths in your reproductive tract can lead to irregular periods. Two of the most common causes of irregular periods are endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining of your uterus grows outside your uterus, too. Endometriosis can be extremely painful. When you menstruate, the abnormal lining can’t exit your body in the form of menstrual blood and causes pain and cramping. You may also bleed heavily.

Uterine fibroids are benign growths composed of uterine muscle cells. You may have fibroids inside or outside your uterus. Treatment could include hormone therapy or surgical removal.

3. You’re in perimenopause

As you head to your post-fertile years, the balance of your hormones changes. When your estrogen plummets, you may experience many of the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and mood swings.

Drops and fluctuations in your hormones, such as progesterone, can also cause prolonged bleeding. We may recommend progesterone or another hormone to stop you from bleeding for too long. You might also benefit from hormone therapy to alleviate the symptoms of menopause and protect you against bone loss.

Even before perimenopause — which usually occurs in your 40s — you could have a condition called premature ovarian failure. If you wish to have children, ovarian failure could compromise your chances of successful conception. 

When your periods are irregular, timing intercourse to increase the chances of conception is more difficult. If you have premature ovarian failure, you may need hormonal or other therapies to resolve your infertility

4. You’ve lost too much weight or exercise too much

Obsession with achieving the “perfect” body causes some women and girls to restrict their calories to an unhealthy degree. Women athletes, too, may stress their bodies and cause them to stop menstruating by restricting calories or over-exercising.

Irregular periods or the cessation of menstruation is also associated with eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment. Please call us for help if you or someone you love has an eating disorder.

5. You’re pregnant or breastfeeding

In the early stages of pregnancy, you could still have light periods or spotting. Be sure to come in for a check up if you think you could be pregnant. Proper prenatal care reduces the chances of complications for you and your baby, and increases the chance for a happy, healthy, full-term delivery.

If you’ve recently had a baby and are breastfeeding your child, you may start to menstruate again after 3-6 months. However, your period may be irregular as your body adjusts to post-pregnancy hormone levels. If you’ve used breastfeeding as a natural form of contraception, talk to us about other forms of birth control going forward.

To find out why your periods are irregular and to get relief, contact us at Enrich Family Practice, 432-200-9087. You can also reach our team with our online message form.

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