You look at the calendar and realize you’re getting your period that day, so you plan accordingly with some tampons or pads. Other than a few cramps, you’re anticipating that your menstrual cycle will come and go quietly, like it always does.
If you laughed or shook your head while reading the paragraph above, join the 14% to 25% of women who experience irregular menstrual cycles or abnormal periods.
At Tahoe Women’s Care, Dr. Gary Willen and our team understand the many ways your periods can be abnormal or irregular, and we want to clarify those here so you can see where you fall. We also discuss some of the reasons why women experience irregular menstrual cycles.
Behind abnormal menstrual cycles
As we mentioned, there are many ways in which menstrual cycles and periods can be irregular, including:
Timing of your periods
Under normal circumstances, you should get your period every 21 to 35 days. If you have periods that occur more frequently than every 21 days or that occur more than 35 days apart, we consider this to be an irregular menstrual cycle.
Your periods don’t have to be precise — exactly every 29 days, for example — and they can fluctuate by a day or two, just to keep you on your toes. If, however, your periods fluctuate by more than nine days, that’s an irregular menstrual cycle.
Length of your periods
Most women have periods that last from 2-7 days. If your period lasts only a day or extends past a week, this falls under irregular periods.
Heavy bleeding during the first day or two of your period is normal, but bleeding that soaks through tampons or pads every hour, even at night, is abnormally heavy.
Some cramping is normal as your uterus contracts, but debilitating pain that prevents you from functioning isn’t what we’d consider normal.
Outside of these characteristics, irregular periods can also include skipping more than three periods in a row or spotting in between periods.
Causes of irregular bleeding
Give the many ways a menstrual cycle can be irregular, it should come as no surprise that there are a number of potential culprits behind the problem, including:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Uterine fibroids
- Thyroid disease
- Eating disorders
Periods can even be altered by too much stress or exercising to the point where you have very low body fat.
The best way to get to the bottom of your irregular periods is to make a gynecology appointment with us, during which we can fully evaluate your health and run some tests.
To get on the road to healthier menstrual cycles, please request an appointment online or call our office in Carson City, Nevada, at 775-924-0041.