10 Causes of Irregular Periods

causes of irregular periods
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Missed Period? A Late Period? Irregular Periods?

A menstrual period refers to the shedding of the uterine wall lining in women which normally happens between adolescence and menopause. Regular menstrual periods occur between 21 to 35 days which last for four days to a week in most women.

Why is my period late? What is an irregular period? What about causes of missed period? Abnormal menstrual cycle are cycles that occur less than three weeks, or more than five weeks apart.

Missing more than two periods in a row, experiencing a lighter or heavier menstrual flow, menstrual periods that last longer than a week, as well as bleeding between the time past menopause or after sexual intercourse are all considered to describe abnormal or irregular menstrual cycle.

There are many different grounds that can be attributed to irregular periods. They range from stress, use of pills, physiological body changes, and underlying medical conditions.


Causes of Irregular Periods

Below are the most common reasons for irregular periods.

1. The Polycystic Syndrome

The polycystic syndrome of the ovary is a well-known primary cause of irregular periods in females. It is a condition where many small sac-like cysts filled with fluid develop within the ovaries of the person. This causes irregularity in the timing of menstrual periods and at times lead to no periods at all – a missed period not pregnant situation.

Other indications include excessive hair growth, skin with numerous red pimples due to inflamed sebaceous glands, and obese distinction in some females.

Women with the condition have a chronically abnormal ovarian function disorder with slightly high levels of androgen hormones. They do not release the ovum monthly and are vulnerable to diseases of the heart, onset of high blood pressure as well as diabetes. This makes polycystic syndrome one of many risky reasons for missed period in women.

causes of irregular periods polycystic syndrome

2. Contraceptives

Some people wonder “My period is late, how come?”, not knowing it can be due to birth control practices. The use of contraceptives in the control of birth and pregnancy may end up affecting the normal cycle of menstrual periods in the woman.

For example, the use of an intrauterine device can easily cause painful or immense bleeding. Also, those pills that are taken for contraception may turn out to be the causative factor for the individual’s spotting in between periods.

These are some common reasons for late period cycles but usually normalize after cease of contraceptive use. In fact, the first-time use of contraceptive pills may cause women to develop small bleeds.

Small bleeds are called ‘breakthrough bleeds’ which are shorter and lighter bleeds compared to normal menstrual periods and may stop occurring after some time, say in a few months.

3. Infections

The presence of an infection that affects the reproductive system of a woman, like inflammatory disease of the pelvis, can be a very serious disorder and is a very common reason for the development of menstrual period problems.

Inflammatory disease of the pelvis is a complication rated as a top infection-related causative factor among several other medical disorders like HIV and AIDS, and other strange sexually transmitted diseases in females. It can be treated with antibiotics if noticed and detected early enough.

The infection affects the menstrual cycle by damaging the Fallopian tube as it spreads. A damage of the womb causes chronic pain that can be experienced in the lifetime of the victim.

It is profoundly characterized as bleeding between periods and usually happens after engaging in sexual intercourse.

causes of irregular periods pelvic-inflammatory-disease

4. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition whereby cells that are usually found inside the uterus have grown outside the uterus. It is the appearance of endometrial tissue outside the womb. This means that the internal lining of the uterus is found outside the womb.

The cells that shed normally during the menstrual cycle are therefore displaced causing an abnormal period. This may result in chronic pelvic pain in the long run. The pain may develop along with other symptoms.

Endometriosis affects 5% of childbearing individuals leading to problems in the capability to conceive.

5. Lifestyle

What causes irregular periods with regards to regular routine of living? The lifestyle that a person lives can also influence the development of irregular menstrual cycle.

Engagement in activities that result in extreme weight loss or on the contrary, extreme weight gain, as well as excessive engagement in physical exercises and involvement in stress-causing factors can lead to an irregular period.

The engagement in extreme physical activities has been common among the identified reasons for a late period not pregnant situations.

The main issue to consider concerning irregular menses for this matter is that stress, excessive exercise, and extreme weight gain or weight lose predisposes the person to develop an upset in the balance of hormones. An upset in hormonal balance in the body of a woman will give rise to the resulting irregularity in usual processes of the menstrual cycle hence irregular periods.

6. Earlier deliveries

Unexpected early deliveries and pregnancies can also affect the menstrual cycle.

Irregular periods can result from an early miscarriage or any other problems that are associated with the womb and the ovaries, generally referred to as gynecological problems.

If a visit to the specialist for consultation of the female reproductive system has not been considered in time, for further investigation and treatment of any underlying gynecological problems, the patient may come to a point of developing complications affecting menstrual period cycles. These difficulties are possible reasons for a missed period.

The resulting effects may eventually end up affecting the female’s menstrual cycle on a long term basis.

7. Thyroid disorders

Thyroid disorders are rare. They may be rare but are also considered to be a suspected cause of irregular periods in females.

The medical condition causes thickening of the uterine lining which leads in prolonged period or more bleeding than normal, like 2 periods in one month or menstrual period every two weeks.

Hormones from the thyroid glands at the neck maintain the chemical processes of the body. The chemical processes turn food into energy. A blood test can help check any thyroid problems currently present. Through medical examinations, levels of thyroid hormones in the blood can be identified.

Changes in the amounts of hormones in the female’s body can affect the reproductive system thereby interfering with the menstrual cycle.

causes of irregular periods thyroid problems

8. Menstrual cycle irregularity

At puberty, menstrual periods may be flowing just fine from the time the individual began experiencing menstruation.

Few years after puberty, the person may experience irregularity in the menstrual cycle like an onset of a delayed period. It will be an experience of having a menstrual period late recurrence for the first time.

It is considered to be an experience common among many individuals, though it is still considered an irregularity in the menstrual cycle of the lady. This may continually take a few more years in order for estrogen and progesterone to balance.

The hormonal imbalance after puberty is responsible for the irregularity in the production of the monthly ova.

9. Menopause

Menopause is another of many reasons for missed periods that naturally occur at a particular age as the female grows old. This condition takes place when it lasts around twelve months (1 year) since the woman had a menstrual period.

It is a stage where women stop experiencing monthly periods at a later stage in life. This is brought about by old age.

Just before the stage is reached, as the woman approaches menopause, they usually display irregular periods in their menstrual cycle. The amount of blood they shed also varies at this point in time as they reach menopause.

There is also a rare condition referred to as premature menopause, also premature ovarian failure, where people under 40 may wonder “I missed my period for a long time without reaching normal menopausal age”. This happens due to hormones misfiring in a significant way.

causes of irregular periods menopause

10. Pregnancy

A woman normally stops experiencing the monthly menstrual cycle when they get pregnant. This can bring about the irregularity in her periods later after she gives birth.

The fact that after giving birth to the child, she breastfeeds the infant which can cause the continued variability in the monthly periods. When the woman has totally ceased breastfeeding, it should get her back to the usual course of having regular monthly menstrual cycles.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding is a common cause of irregularity in women’s menstrual periods.

irregular period
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About the Author:

Melissa Gomez, RN, MSN is a board certified nurse and has been a contributing writer for the past five years. Ms. Gomez has a special focus on platelet-related illness prevention and health promotion.

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