What’s the Deal with Irregular Periods?


By Stacy Lloyd
August 11, 2010

Don’t you just hate spotting or worse, particularly when it’s not your time of the month? What’s up with irregular periods?

A regular period is supposed to happen every 24-29 days. Irregular menstrual bleeding takes many forms and varies from woman to woman. 23–35 day cycles are very common. Some women get their periods only one to four times a year. Others have periods two to three times in a month with spotting or extremely heavy flow.

Girls may not have regular periods at the beginning. It’s normal, especially in the first two years after starting menstruation, to have an irregular cycle. It may take several years for the hormones to reach a balance.

Menstrual periods can also be irregular at the other end of the menstrual years. Many women approaching perimenopause and menopause notice their otherwise regular periods become irregular. This can be due to an imbalance of hormones upsetting their cycle.

Pregnancy is the most common cause of a missed period. Anorexic or bulimic women or endurance athletes can find their menstrual cycles lessened or stopped due to a decrease in body fat. These women have low estrogen and aren’t ovulating.

Stress – this includes drug use and reliance on caffeine and alcohol – can lead to irregular periods. Medications, such as birth control, may cause lighter, less frequent, more frequent, skipped periods or no periods at all. Other causes can be recent childbirth, miscarriage, a D&C and even breast-feeding.



Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.