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The Mystery of the Irregular Period

By Lauren Ford
Posted On Jun 27, 2016
The Mystery of the Irregular Period

Most of us moan and groan when it’s that time of the month, but those of us who have regular cycles should be rejoicing in a well-balanced body. For some, this isn’t the case. A woman’s body and hormonal system can be very sensitive making irregular periods fairly common.

An irregular period is defined as any bleeding that is abnormal when compared to your last few menstrual cycles. It can be anything from a late period to early bleeding, or scant bleeding to extremely heavy bleeding. Some women even experience no period or two periods in one month. Yikes!

Here are the major factors that can cause an irregularity in your flow.

Stress

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Shutterstock

Stress is the most common cause of irregular periods. Cortisol, the stress hormone, has a direct impact on how much estrogen and progesterone gets produced by the body. If you have too much cortisol in your bloodstream, the time and flow of your cycle could change. Dr. Carolyn C Thompson, board certified OB/GYN says,  “if a woman is under a great deal of stress, either physical or emotional, it is likely not an ideal time for pregnancy, so the system shuts down.”

Diet

Another common reason for a late or missing period is the food you eat and the weight you carry. If you are consuming a diet that is heavy in unhealthy carbs, or if you’ve gained weight, your body will produce varying levels of certain hormones, shifting when you ovulate. The same goes for when you lose weight. In order to maintain a regular cycle, your body fat percentage needs to be at least 17-22 percent. This is again related to the idea that being in a state of starvation is not conducive to maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

Exercise

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Shutterstock

Our bodies need energy to menstruate. If you’re burning too much energy at the gym, there will be nothing left for your body to use during Auntie Flo’s visit. Excessive exercise and sudden weight changes offsets hormone levels leading too  irregular menstrual cycles. This is why people who struggle with anorexia and bulimia periods’ stop all together.

Birth Control

It takes a few months for your body to get used to the amount of hormones birth control pills deliver. One of the side effects of birth control is a light or non-existent period. So if/when you stop taking the pill your body will go back to your normal state after 1-3 months, and you might see an abnormality that was being masked by the pill. This instance is all about hormone levels, so if this is happening to you, you should consult a doctor to see how to fix the underlying issue.

Other Medications

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Shutterstock

If you were recently visited by the not-welcomed flu bug or had to take any prescription or over the counter medication, your period may show up a day or two late. This is largely due to the medication’s interference with the way your body produces estrogen and progesterone. There are actually many medications that can affect your menstrual cycle— aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, Mirena IUD, and thyroid medication are just a few.

If you are experiencing an irregular period, try modifying in any of these areas and definitely take a trip to your OB/GYN for a professional opinion.