Having irregular periods can mean a variation in the number of days you have your period or that your period arrives early, late or even skips a few months.
Actually, most women will experience irregular bleeding at some point in their life. A period showing up unexpected or delayed does not always mean something serious is going on. But your period showing up whenever it wants can be stressful. So here we’re going to talk about some easy ways of how you can regulate your menstrual cycle.
4 common causes for irregular periods:
The average length of a Menstrual Cycle is around 28 – 35 days, and menstrual bleeding usually lasts between 3 – 7 days. Keep in mind that what is a normal or average period for one person, can be experienced completely different by another. So if your period suddenly varies from your average length and flow, it’s a sign that your period is irregular.
Your period may show up earlier than expected, or not show up at all. Here are the 4 most common causes that can cause a delayed or early period thus causing an irregular menstrual cycle:
- – Medication
- – Stress and anxiety
- – Puberty or menopause
- – Hormonal birth control such as contraceptive pills or emergency contraception
Irregular Periods – What do they mean?
Often irregular or early periods don’t mean anything serious. However, if you realize a sudden change in your menstrual cycle, it could be a symptom for another health issue such as:
- Thyroid Disorder (over- or underactive thyroids can cause a hormonal imbalance which can suppress your ovulation)
- STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease)
- Pregnancy (Irregular periods can sometimes be a sign of pregnancy. If you think you could be pregnant, see your doctor for a consult.)
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS affects 5-10% of women, but less than 50% with the syndrome are diagnosed. This is why it’s really important to see your doctor if you suspect that your irregular menstrual cycle could be linked to another issue.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
Apart from an irregular menstruation other symptoms of PCOS are:
- Excess hair growth on face and body
- High blood pressure
- Depression and anxiety
If you have PCOS, your hormones are out of balance and there are small cysts on and in your ovaries. If you think you have PCOS, schedule an appointment with your doctor or general practitioner.
Why is my period late? Possible reasons for a missed period
Your menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones, which, if imbalanced, can cause irregularities to your menstrual cycle and period flow. The most common cause is a fluctuation in your hormones (especially when it affects your estrogen levels):
- – Stress, travelling and a hectic lifestyle can release stress hormones, which can disrupt the production of estrogen and cause a late or missed period.
- – Your diet and unhealthy eating can impact your body and your flow. Similarly, sudden weight gain or loss, as well as malnourishment, can cause an irregular menstruation.
- – Medication and contraception; hormonal birth control methods such as the pill or the injection can affect your period.
- – Puberty, Menarche and Menopause, are phases in your life where high hormonal fluctuation is normal.
- – Excessive exercising can often cause periods to be delayed or not come at all.
When to see a doctor
Irregular periods are common. But you might just want to check in with your gynaecologist and tell them you’re having irregular periods. They can do a quick safety check to make sure the cause for your irregular periods is nothing to be worried about.
If you find that irregular periods are taking over or making your day-to-day life difficult, then visit your doctor for a health check. Many find that their periods are more irregular during puberty or menopause. A missed period can also be an indication of pregnancy, so if you are unsure, see your doctor.
If your periods suddenly change, you should also go see a doctor. Maybe it’s because of stress, but better to rule out any other causes for sure.
3 easy ways to regulate your period naturally
Regulate your period by adjusting your diet
It’s important you have a balanced and healthy diet all month. There are some particular foods that are very helpful in regulating periods and getting your menstrual flow going:
Pineapples and papaya are well-known home remedies for irregular periods. The bromelain in the pineapple and papaya will help soften and break down your uterus lining, which can help solve a period block.
Also, aim for an intake of half a teaspoon of cinnamon (mixed in warm lemon water with honey or in a glass of (almond) milk). Some studies show that cinnamon helps regulate the insulin levels, which in turn can help regulate ovulation and therefore also having a regular menstrual cycle.
Destress & Self-care
Stress is one of the most common reasons for irregular periods. So naturally, a cure for irregular periods is to break out of your stressful, daily routines – even if only for a couple of hours.
Try taking a hot bath or place a hot water bottle or a warm cherry stone pillow on your abdomen and do a relaxing activity. Read a book or magazine, listen to a podcast or watch your favourite show.
If you can, try meditating or keeping a gratitude journal. It’s about taking some me-time and zoning out of your usual day to day thoughts and routine. Turn off your laptop, turn off your phone and try to relax and take care of yourself (even if it’s just half an hour.) If you have long office hours or study all day long, even taking 5 or 10 minutes perhaps outside or somewhere away from your desk can help you relax and clear your mind.
Anything from yoga to CrossFit – as long as you feel comfortable, exercise is also a great stress release. You can also just go for a walk or do some easy youtube workouts at home. The important thing is to do some kind of exercise that takes your mind off things and helps you break out of your daily chores and routines. Just a little bit can give you that small kick of endorphins you need to destress.
Tips to make irregular periods easier to manage:
Track your period, improve your life
Tracking your period will help avoid unwanted period surprises. You will be able to calculate when your next period most likely will be due and easily adjust your plans towards potential cramp and PMS days.
In order to know when you’re period is becoming irregular, you must first know your flow. By keeping track of your period, you can calculate when to expect your next period. After about 3 cycles you will begin to see a pattern and know how your average menstrual cycle behaves. You will also be able to detect abnormalities faster and have data to show to your gynaecologist.
There are some great apps available that can help you track your period easily.
Find a menstrual product that feels right for you
You never know exactly when your period is going to start, so whenever you feel today might be the day, you precautiously protect your underwear with some internal or external period product.
But stress, insomnia or medication can delay a period for a couple of days, and taking out a dry tampon or having to throw away another unstained pad is very uncomfortable and frustrating. That’s why menstrual cups (read this if you don’t know what a menstrual cup is) are a great solution for being prepared for when your period actually does show up: no drying out, you can leave it in for 12 hours and you don’t waste any disposable menstrual products.
There are a bunch of other reasons why menstrual cups make managing irregular periods easy:
- You won’t run out of period products or be caught off-guard because they are reusable
- Cups are made from a healthy material, so they don’t dry you out or leave any cotton residue behind
- If your period is heavy, they are a good solution due to their higher capacity (3x a super tampon)
Hopefully, you found all the information about irregular periods that you were looking for. Check out Laci Green’s video about irregular periods for a deeper understanding.
We also hope you found the tips on how to regulate your menstrual cycle naturally useful. Remember, each body works differently and it’s important that you find out what works best for you. There are many ways on how to manage irregular periods. Maybe switching to a menstrual cup makes handling your irreagular period easier, or you find it helpful to adjust your diet – or a combination of both. In any case, if you still have some questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments and consult with your doctor.
(Medical Disclaimer: We are not medical doctors, therefore, we cannot give medical advice. This information is for educational purposes only.)