Most of us have missed a period at one point or another — some with anticipation of a pregnancy, others because of anxiety or tension.
It’s important to know that most irregular periods are benign. Missed periods, too frequent periods, spotting, or bouts of heavy clotting and bleeding are usually caused by an underlying hormonal imbalance that is easily treated.
There are women who menstruate like clockwork, while others report never having had a regular cycle. But one thing is a given: shifts in hormonal balance will alter whatever pattern a woman has experienced in the past. Such shifts are especially common in conditions such as perimenopause.
What is an irregular period?
A textbook period happens every 24-29 days, but in truth what is “regular” covers a wide range. Cycles between 23–35 days are very common. A woman may get her period only one to four times a year. Or she might have periods that occur two to three times in a month and involve spotting or extremely heavy flow.
Alternatively, she may have heavy episodes of bleeding every two to three months. Irregular periods are simply what is irregular for you.
A wide variety of factors can be responsible for irregular periods, among them:
• Significant weight gain or loss
• Poor nutrition (or a diet too high in carbohydrates)
• Drug use
• Excessive alcohol use (interfering with how the liver metabolizes estrogen and progesterone)
• Eating disorders
• Increased stress
• Polycystic ovarian syndrome/estrogen dominance
• Uterine abnormalities (fibroids/cysts/polyps/endometriosis)
• Hormonal imbalance related to perimenopause
• Recent childbirth, miscarriage, or D&C