When you’ve been having regular periods for years, or even decades, a sudden unexpected change can be worrying, anxiety-inducing, and simply annoying. When you know you’re not pregnant and aren’t near menopause, you don’t expect your period to be late or skipped unless something’s wrong. However, this isn’t always the case. We’ll walk through the different types of irregular menstruation women experience and when you may need to come in for a checkup.
The normal menstrual cycle begins during ovulation, when an egg is released from one of your ovaries. Your uterus understands this signal and begins building up blood stores and tissue for a potential fertilization of the egg with a sperm cell. When fertilization doesn’t happen, the body signals another change through hormone levels which results in your monthly (ish) bleeding for a few days.
There are several factors that can influence this cycle and cause abnormal uterine bleeding, including lifestyle factors and legitimate medical conditions.
Types of Irregular Periods
Following puberty, menstrual cycles tend to be regular in length, duration, and heaviness of bleeding, but as many as 15% of women experience irregular periods sometime before menopause. It may be obvious what your irregularity is, or there may be abnormal bleeding that doesn’t catch your full attention. Abnormal bleeding that indicates irregular periods include:
- Bleeding between periods
- Heavier bleeding during your period
- Longer-lasting bleeding period
- Bleeding after sex
- Bleeding after menopause
The terms associated with abnormal cycles include:
- Amenorrhea – Skipping at least three menstrual cycles
- Oligomenorrhea – Periods that occur over 35 days apart
- Menorrhagia – Heavy bleeding that lasts more than 7 days
Reasons for A Late or Irregular Period
A late period doesn’t always mean you need to see a doctor, as their causes could be temporary. However, if you continue experiencing your symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to the gynecologists at Carnegie Women’s Health. Some causes for late or irregular bleeding include the following:
- Taking certain medications
- Disordered eating – if you experience an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, this can cause hormone fluctuations that disrupt your menstrual cycle.
- Untreated diabetes – whether you’ve been diagnosed or are simply living with untreated diabetes, your abnormal blood sugar levels may be affecting your cycle.
- Chronic stress
- Hyperprolactinemia – people who have too much prolactin, a specific protein, can experience irregular periods.
- Premature ovarian failure – this medical condition is diagnosed in women under the age of 40 who no longer have working ovaries.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome – if your body is producing too many hormones called androgens, it can lead to PCOS, which can cause an irregular period.
And although most periods become regular shortly after puberty, young people may continue experiencing fluctuations in their menstruation for a while. It also becomes disrupted up to eight years prior to menopause.
When to See a Doctor About Irregular Periods
Here are the symptoms that should lead you to call your doctor:
- Your last period was 90 days ago
- Your period comes more often than every 21 days
- Your periods are greater than 35 days apart
- Your period becomes consistently unusually heavy
- You experience bleeding between periods
- You have extremely painful periods
Gynecologist for Irregular Period Treatment
In many cases, an irregular period is just a random occurrence that will go away on its own, but with certain symptoms you should schedule an appointment with a gynecologist who can diagnose what may be going on and help you get the treatment you need for an irregular period. Schedule a virtual appointment or contact us online today to set up a time to come in and solve your health issues as soon as possible.