You’re busy! You have obligations, hobbies, social engagements, a family, and more taking up your time. You probably don’t want to spend your time or energy worrying about whether or not your period arrives regularly. But, if you’re wondering if you have regular menses, you may want to make the effort to track your cycle and find out for sure.
Dr. Parisa Pourzand and her team help women with irregular menses frequently because it’s a fairly common problem. In this post, we discuss what constitutes “irregularity” and when you should schedule an appointment to find out why you’re experiencing irregular periods.
What is “irregular?”
Oligomenorrhea is the medical name for irregular menses, but before we talk about why it happens, we should define irregular. Most people think that 28 days is the length of a regular menstrual cycle, but the fact is, the number of days can vary from 21 to 35 and still be considered regular.
In order to find out if your cycle is regular, you should track it for a few months. Count the first day of your period as day one, and the first day of your following period as the last day. Then begin again. At the end of three or four months, you should have a good idea of the length of your cycle.
Irregular menses is a cycle that lasts fewer than 21 days, more than 35, or if your cycle length varies by more than 20 days from month to month. Most anything else is considered regular, even if you miss a period once in a while.
Causes of irregular menses
Many factors — more than most women realize — can impact the length of your cycle. For example, if you’re training for an athletic event, you might miss a period. In most of those situations, though, your cycle will return to regularity in a short span of time.
Some of the causes of ongoing irregularity include:
- PCOS - polycystic ovary syndrome is a metabolic and hormonal disorder that can cause irregular periods, along with other symptoms. PCOS is one of the most common reasons for irregular menses.
- Thyroid disorders - an overactive or an underactive thyroid gland can cause irregular menses, along with a host of other symptoms.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease - PID is a condition in which your reproductive system becomes inflamed.
- Puberty/perimenopause - during these two big changes in hormone production, irregular menses is quite common. It can take several years for your period to become regular once you enter puberty, and similarly, perimenopause can last for several years as your body stops producing eggs and lowers hormone production.
- Birth control - whether you use oral birth control, an IUD, implant, or ring, you may have irregular periods.
When to schedule an appointment
One irregular cycle isn’t usually cause for concern, or even one or two in a year. However, if you recognize that your menses is often irregular, or if you have other symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with Dr. Pourzand.
See an OB/GYN