From lifestyle causes to other health disorders, there are common reasons why your period might be irregular.
Menstruation is one of the messiest aspects of having a vagina. While bleeding isn’t really comfortable, if you add to that other symptoms like cramps, bloating like a soccer ball, being unusually hungry, and other variations of this, periods do become quite annoying. However, knowing when your next period's due, can help you prepare to make it go as smoothly as possible. Yet, at some point of our life, our body is such a troll that it’ll have our menstruation arrive when we least expect it. While this is something relatively common, for some people irregular periods, rather than being a sporadic problem, become a usual problem that affects their everyday life, or worse, signal other health problems.
But first, let’s define which factors you have to consider to say your period is irregular. As I previously said, once in a while your period may arrive a few days earlier or later, but if the time between every period changes radically, as well as the quantity of blood you lose and the days it lasts, you can say your periods are irregular. Of course, a doctor’s diagnosis will be far more accurate than the list of symptoms you might find in the internet. If you’re suspecting that you have irregular periods and want to know whether you should treat them or not, it’s important to have an idea of why they might be irregular. The key cause of irregular menstruation is an excess of estrogen or progesterone. However, there are other other elements that cause this hormonal imbalance. While some reasons might be easily solved with some lifestyle changes, there are others that should be confirmed by a doctor, so they’ll tell you how to treat it best and make your periods more bearable. Here are some of the most common reasons why periods might be irregular.
Medication or birth control
First things first, the most obvious cause of changes in your period is the use of hormone-based drugs, such contraceptive pills or medication such as blood thinners (aspirin and Warfarin), ibuprofen, or even cancer treatment. Although your doctor might tell you about the side effects of certain drugs, it’s good to confirm whether the medicines you’re taking are affecting your period.
This is one of the causes that you can control with some lifestyle changes. Of course, there are people who live in situations of constant stress that interrupt their period (think of wars and natural disasters). However, irregular periods due to stress was a common case for girls who went to boarding schools in the nineteenth and twentieth century, so based on that, it was found that being stressed can also alter your period because of the excess of cortisol that your brain releases. Then, if your case is mostly related to work or school-related stress, look for ways to relax. Doing sports, practicing yoga, or even learning how to breathe properly can improve this.
Too much exercise
Another lifestyle-related cause of irregular periods is too much exercise. I know, working out is healthy for you, but anything in excess can have serious consequences. In this case, the low caloric intake of your body when you work out a lot affects your menstrual cycle, sometimes even causing amenorrhea, that is, a complete interruption of your period. This condition is often seen in people training for marathons, ballet dancers, or gymnasts, disciplines that are physically very demanding.
Gaining or losing weight can affect your period. Irregular periods or amenorrhea are a common symptom of eating disorders. However, this isn’t just exclusive to people with anorexia or bulimia. The lack of certain vitamins or nutrients can also alter the production of hormones or the general functioning of your body, obviously affecting your period in a domino effect. For example, diets high in carbohydrates or drinking too much alcohol can affect your metabolism, and so, the production of estrogen and progesterone. Moreover, vegetarians and vegans can also see some alterations in their periods because of the reduction of hormones that are found in meat.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
If none of the previous reasons apply to you, another cause of irregular periods is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition in which there are small fluid sacs in your ovaries. This disorder is caused because of an excess of testosterone, and while it can’t be cured, it can be treated. To determine whether you have this condition, besides a medical diagnosis, you can search for other symptoms such as weight gain around the waist, light periods, facial hair, and sometimes depression.
Finally, another reason why you might have irregular periods are thyroid disorders, either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. In both cases, the thyroid gland is affected, altering as well the hormones that control your metabolism. Besides irregular periods, other symptoms to determine thyroid disorders are mood swings, feeling tired or weak, irregular heartbeats, among others. In this case, you have to look for a treatment that will balance your hormones and control the irregular production of hormones from the gland.
Irregular periods can be frustrating, but if you search for the root of the problem, you can treat it and not suffer as much. If those lifestyle-related changes don’t work, tell your doctor to see whether you need to be examined for other conditions.
Here are other articles on periods you should check out:
Photos by Sara Lorusso