Under perfect circumstances, your period arrives every 28 days and lasts 4-7 days with each cycle. While some women can set their clock to the arrival of their periods, others are plagued by periods that tend to show up without rhyme or reason.
At Shelnutt Gynecology, Dr. Judson Shelnutt and our experienced team provide services for a wide range of gynecologic issues, from PMS to menopause. When it comes to irregular periods, we understand the many potential causes and the best ways to address them.
To get you started, here’s a look at five possible causes of irregular periods.
1. The obvious disruptions
Whether or not your periods arrive like clockwork, most women experience irregular periods due to pregnancy, perimenopause, breastfeeding, and birth control. These issues are perfectly normal and largely temporary, resolving themselves quickly once you exit these various stages of your life.
2. Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects one in 10 women and is caused by metabolic problems that create hormonal imbalances. PCOS can lead to a wide range of symptoms that include:
- Irregular periods (too few, too many, or none at all)
- Hair growth on areas of the body typically associated with men
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair
- Darkening skin or skin tags
If you’re plagued by irregular periods and exhibit any of these symptoms, we urge you to come see us so that we can determine whether PCOS lies at the root of your problem.
3. Thyroid issues
Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that produces hormones that regulate a number of areas of your health, most notably your metabolism. If you have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, you may have long and heavy periods. If you have hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, your periods may be lighter and shorter.
One study found that 44% of women with a thyroid disorder also experience irregular periods. To determine whether you have a thyroid disorder, we review your symptoms and run a simple blood test.
4. Excessive exercise
Female athletes who engage in intensive training may also experience irregular periods. Some even stop menstruation completely. The reason behind this is that excessive exercise can interfere with the hormones responsible for menstruation.
While this condition typically strikes professional female athletes who spend their days training extremely hard, the problem can affect women who simply train too much for their unique circumstances.
Obviously, the answer here is to dial back your exercise regimen to allow your metabolic system to re-regulate itself.
There are few areas of your health that stress can’t somehow touch, and your periods aren’t immune. If you have high levels of stress in your life, it can affect how your brain controls your hormones.
In most cases, we find that when we introduce our patients to stress-management techniques, not only do their periods begin to regulate again, their entire well-being improves.There are many other potential causes of irregular periods, so if you don’t fit any of the above, please come and see us so we can take a closer look. To get started, contact our office in Athens, Georgia, by phone or online to set up an appointment today.