When it comes to menstrual cycles, plenty of old wives’ tales, superstitions, and flat-out falsehoods exist. Happily, it’s fairly easy to set the record straight on many such myths—most women know that their cycle is a perfectly normal occurrence, for example.
But, when it comes to things about your period that aren’t so normal, you may struggle a little more to know what’s fact and what’s fiction. Dr. Parisa Pourzand and her dedicated staff discuss some of the most common myths about irregular menses. We also encourage you to schedule a visit if you have questions.
1. It’s very unusual to skip a period
In fact, it’s very common for women to miss a period now and then. It can happen for various reasons — even something that seems completely unrelated, like a particularly stressful situation.
You may miss a period if you’re exercising more than usual or if you’ve recently begun using hormonal birth control. Also, if you’ve just started menstruating or you’re nearing menopause when you’ll stop, you may miss periods. And, if you’re pregnant, you’ll miss periods.
2. Having an irregular period can impact your reproductive health
As we mentioned above, many different circumstances can lead to missing a period, and not all of them have to do with your reproductive health. If you miss a menstrual period or your cycle is shorter or longer than expected, it doesn’t always mean you’ll struggle to conceive when you’re ready to.
3. If you don’t menstruate every 28 days you have an irregular period
Although a menstrual cycle is often described as being 28 days, that number represents an average. Yours may be 26 days or 34 days and still be considered regular. Your menstrual cycle includes your period, which usually happens somewhere between day 24 and day 35 of your cycle.
4. Missing a period means you’re pregnant, always
As we noted in the first myth, there are plenty of reasons you might miss a period that has nothing to do with pregnancy. Missing a period is the most common and obvious sign of being pregnant. Your body no longer needs to shed your uterine lining if you’re pregnant.
Sometimes, you may bleed a little if you’re pregnant, though it’s not a period. Some women may bleed when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. This is called implantation bleeding.
5. The amount you bleed has nothing to do with regularity
An irregular period can mean you menstruating in less than 24 days or more than 35. It can also mean that you bleed for longer than a week or that you bleed more than usual.
When to schedule a visit
You don’t always need to see Dr. Pourzand if you miss a period, have an especially heavy or light period, or your period comes early or late. However, if you’re concerned or any of these things happen more than once, you may want to schedule an appointment.
Some relatively serious conditions, like endometriosis, are associated with irregular periods. Getting treatment may help ease your symptoms.