You used to be able to predict, almost down to the hour, when your period would come. Or, maybe you’ve been dealing with irregular period cycles since you first started getting them. Whatever the case, you’re stuck with periods that you can’t predict, which is more than a little inconvenient.
Unpredictable menstrual cycles can stem from many different things, and Dr. Denise Molina Furlong and our team here at Chicago Center for Women’s Health are going to explore some of the more common causes of irregular bleeding here.
What constitutes a normal menstrual cycle
Under ideal circumstances, your menstrual cycles should keep a predictable schedule. On average, a period should come every 28 days, though this number can range from every 24 to 38 days.
When it comes to irregular menstrual cycles, the Office on Women’s Health defines this as menstrual cycles that:
- Are shorter than 24 days
- Are longer than 38 days
- Fluctuate between normal and abnormal cycles
If your periods aren’t keeping a regular schedule or the cycles are too short or too long, there are many possible causes, which we will explore next.
Common causes for irregular periods
Periods can be unpredictable for many reasons, and some of those reasons are perfectly natural. For example, when you first start having your periods as you pass through puberty, the cycles can be unpredictable for a few years until they settle into a more predictable pattern.
On the other end of the menstrual spectrum, when you enter perimenopause, usually in your mid to late 40s, your periods can become very irregular. You can skip periods, your periods may be different in terms of flow and duration, and you may spot in between periods.
Eventually, your periods go away entirely once you transition through menopause.
Pregnancy also disrupts your menstrual cycles, and after you deliver, it may take a little while for your menstrual cycles to regain a normal schedule.
If none of the above applies to your situation, there are other drivers of unpredictable periods, including:
- Being underweight
- Thyroid issues
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Primary ovarian insufficiency
- Being obese
- Certain medications
Interestingly, stress can also influence your periods. If you’re under lots of stress, it can affect your hormone levels and lead to irregular periods.
The best way to find out what’s behind your unpredictable periods is to come see us for an evaluation. After reviewing your medical history and your menstrual patterns, we can conduct testing to get to the bottom of — and treat — your irregular bleeding.
If you want to get started on taking the guesswork out of your menstrual cycles, contact us at one of our two locations in Bedford Park or Oak Lawn, Illinois, to set up an appointment.