Irregular periods (abnormal menstruation) (2023)

A regular period (Menstruation) is an important part of reproductive health.Irregular periods occur when a person's menstrual cycle is shorter or longer than the average length. About 14% to 25% of people experience irregular menstrual cycles.

A normal menstrual cycle lasts from 24 to 38 days.It is considered irregular if it is less than 24 days or more than 38 days. Your menstrual cycle may also be irregular if it varies by more than 20 days from month to month.

This article describes the common causes of irregular periods and how to treat them.

Irregular periods (abnormal menstruation) (1)

Teenage girls who have just started menstruating may have irregular periods for the first few years. People who are in perimenopause often also experience irregular periods.

Symptoms of irregular periods

Symptoms of irregular periods include:

  • Menstrual cycle of less than 24 days
  • Menstrual cycle of more than 38 days
  • A menstrual cycle that changes more than 20 days each month
  • heavy bleeding
  • light bleeding
  • painful periods

Types of Irregular Periods

Common types of irregular periods include:

  • amenorrhea: Period stops completely
  • Oligomenorrhea: Period rarely occurs
  • dysmenorrhea: Painful periods
  • menorrhagia: Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • abnormal uterine bleeding: Bleeding between periods
  • polymenorrhea: Frequent periods

Causes of irregular periods

Several possible causes of irregular periods include pregnancy, stress, uncontrolled diabetes, uterine cancer, and more. The most common causes of irregular periods are:

  • the pregnancy: During pregnancy, the body stops ovulating and periods stop temporarily.
  • To emphasize: Stress is strongly associated with abnormal menstrual cycles. One review found that high levels of perceived stress are associated with a higher chance of having an irregular period.
  • from smoking: Studies show that heavy cigarette smoking is significantly associated with premature menopause, which means that smoking can cause your periods to permanently miss earlier than normal.
  • Weight changes: Significant weight changes can cause you to miss your period. If the body does not receive enough calories, it cannot produce enough hormones to maintain the menstrual cycle.
  • Obesity: Excess body fat produces extra estrogen. This extra estrogen disrupts the menstrual cycle and can cause lighter or heavier periods.
  • Intense Training: Strenuous exercise and resistance training in female athletes have been found to cause irregular periods because it causes a decrease in gonadotropin-releasing and luteinizing hormones.
  • The birth control pill: Hormonal birth control pills can cause irregularities. Medications that only contain progestogens can cause bleeding between periods. People who stop taking birth control pills may have irregular periods for months.
  • uterine polypyfibroid of the uterus: Uterine polyps and fibroids are growths that attach to the wall and lining of the uterus. This leads to heavy menstrual bleeding and pain.
  • endometriosis: This condition causes endometrial tissue to grow outside the uterus. It can cause abnormal bleeding and significant pain during your period.
  • pelvic inflammatory disease(PID): An infection (typically a sexually transmitted infection) in the reproductive organs, causing inflammation and irregular periods.
  • PCO syndrome(PCOS): About 10% of people with irregular periods have PCOS.In this condition, ovarian cysts form, leading to hormonal imbalance and irregular periods.
  • premature ovarian failure(POI): If the ovaries stop working before the age of 40, this leads to missed periods (amenorrhea). People with POI may have occasional periods and may even become pregnant.
  • sin controlDiabetes: High blood sugar changes hormone levels in the blood and disrupts the menstrual cycle. Fortunately, treating type 1 or 2 diabetes can help make your periods more regular.

Less common causes of irregular periods include:

  • uterine cancer
  • cervical cancer
  • bleeding conditions
  • thyroid problems
  • Hiperprolactinemia

What medications can cause irregular periods?

Some medicines can cause irregular periods. Long-term steroid use can cause heavy or irregular periods. Anticoagulant medications (anticoagulant medications) can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.

(Video) Irregular Menstrual Cycles What’s Normal and What’s Abnormal?

How to treat irregular periods?

Treatment for irregular periods depends on the underlying cause. Treatment options may include:

  • Hormonal birth control: Birth control pills can treat heavy menstrual bleeding caused by endometriosis, fibroids, and PCOS.
  • intrauterine weighing(IUD): An IUD can be used to reduce the amount of menstrual bleeding.
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonisten: GnRH agonists can shrink uterine fibroids and help regulate the menstrual cycle.
  • Pain management: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such asAdvil (ibuprofen)oAleve (naproxen)it can be used to treat painful periods. Talk to your doctor before starting regular NSAID treatment.

Guide to birth control pills

Tests to Diagnose the Cause of Irregular Periods

To determine what might be causing your irregular periods, your health care provider may recommend one or more of these tests:

  • gynecological control: Your doctor will probably start with a routine pelvic exam to assess your reproductive organs.
  • Blood tests: Heavy periods can causeAnamie, so your doctor will check the level of iron in your blood. They may also recommend a pregnancy test and hormone levels.
  • Vaginal cultures: Cultures may be taken to check for infection.
  • Pelvic ultrasound: an ultrasound can diagnose uterine fibroids or polypsovarian cysts.

When to see a health care provider

Regular menstruation is an important factor in reproductive health and fertility. Because of this, you should talk to your doctor any time you notice a significant change in your period.

Contact your doctor if you may be pregnant or if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • High fever
  • severe pelvic pain
  • smellyvaginal discharge
  • Unusually heavy bleeding
  • bleeding between periods
  • Periods that last more than seven days

When to worry about missed or irregular periods


The following lifestyle factors can help keep your period regular:

  • Healthy nutrition
  • moderate training program
  • stress management practices
  • enough rest
  • Regular visits to your doctor


Your period may be considered irregular if your menstrual cycle is shorter than 24 days or longer than 38 days. Other irregular periods include heavy or light bleeding, bleeding between periods, and painful periods. Irregular periods can be caused by a number of factors, including pregnancy, stress, smoking, weight changes, and intense exercise. Health conditions that cause irregular periods include uterine polyps and fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, and more. Treatment may include hormonal birth control methods, IUDs, and pain control techniques.

A word from Verywell

An irregular period can affect your well-being and quality of life. You should talk to your doctor if you notice a significant change in your menstrual cycle. Many causes of irregular periods can be treated or even prevented. In addition to talking with your doctor, consider making necessary lifestyle changes, such as: B. Quitting smoking or beginning a moderate exercise program.

frequent questions

  • What causes irregular periods?

    (Video) What you need to know about irregular periods

    Several possible causes of irregular periods include stress, smoking, weight changes, and chronic illness.

  • Can stress cause irregular periods?

    Yes, high stress levels are strongly associated with irregular periods. High levels of cortisol (known as the stress hormone) can disrupt the menstrual cycle, leading to irregular periods.

  • How can I treat my irregular periods?

    Treatment for irregular periods depends on the underlying cause. Possible treatment options include hormonal birth control, intrauterine device, and pain management.

6 fuentes

(Video) Irregular Menstrual Periods

Verywell Health uses only quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. read ourspublishing processto learn more about how we verify our content and keep it accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Bae J, Park S, Kwon JW.Factors related to menstrual cycle irregularities and menopause.BMC Women's Health. 2018;18(1):36. doi:10.1186/s12905-018-0528-x

  2. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.What are menstrual disorders??

  3. Office of Women's Health.period problems.

  4. Miyamoto M., Hanatani Y., Shibuya K.Relationship between food intake, anxiety and menstrual irregularities in elite rowers.nourishing. 2021;13(10):3436. doi:10.3390/nu13103436

  5. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.heavy menstrual bleeding.

  6. Harvard Health.When you see your doctor: Irregular periods.

Irregular periods (abnormal menstruation) (2)

VonCarrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH is a healthcare journalist with over a decade of experience as a registered nurse. She has practiced in a variety of fields including pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.

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