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Causes of irregular periods

Reviewed by Dr. Sarika Arora, MD

At some point, most of us have experienced an irregular period due to a temporary situation, such as extreme stress or a new exercise routine. But if the irregular length, frequency, spotting or amount of bleeding during your period becomes a regular occurrence, we understand that you may start to feel a little worried or concerned.

woman in cafe concerned about her irregular periods

With ongoing or significant changes to your menstrual cycle, we recommend you see a healthcare practitioner to rule out any more serious issues.

You may not realize that irregular periods are extremely common as the first sign of hormonal imbalance, and if so, your body may just need extra support to return your menstrual cycle to its regular, healthy pattern.

What is an irregular period?

Irregular periods can be longer, shorter, heavier, or lighter, and can include spotting or skipping days (or months) – in short, there is no one set definition of an irregular period. In fact, because you understand your body better than anyone, you’re going to be the best one to know if there have been changes to your regular menstrual cycle pattern, which is really what “irregular” means.

Common hormonal causes of irregular periods

No matter how you might describe the changes to your menstrual cycle, disruptions to your sex hormones, adrenal hormones or thyroid hormones could be the underlying cause of your irregular periods

  • You may be starting perimenopause or menopause
    While menopause is often described as completely stopping your period, the truth is that changes to sex hormones (often progesterone) may affect the menstrual cycle for months or even up to 15 years before your last period.
  • You may suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
    One of the symptoms of PCOS is that a woman may not ovulate at all or have very unpredictable periods. Women who suffer from PCOS often have the specific hormonal imbalance of insulin resistance or increased androgens (often considered “male” hormones).
  • Your stress may have gone from temporary to chronic
    We know that sometimes stress moves on a spectrum beyond temporary and into a chronic condition, such as adrenal imbalance. With adrenal imbalance, high cortisol (stress hormone) levels exert influence on progesterone and estrogen — and as a result, can disrupt menstruation.
  • Your thyroid function may be low
    Because the thyroid is the master gland that affects symptoms and functions throughout the body, women who suffer from subclinical hypothyroidism may experience irregular periods as well as weight gain, hair loss and feeling cold in the extremities.
  • You’ve lost or gained weight
    Gaining weight or being overweight can both lead to irregular or unusual periods. Not getting enough nutrition or exercising too much may put extra stress on your body, resulting in high cortisol levels.

The natural approach to hormonal imbalance for irregular period relief

When it comes to balancing your hormones, you may discover you have more control than you realize!

Two of the most powerful ways are by making some simple adjustments to your diet and lifestyle routines. Diets too high in sugars and starches may lead to insulin imbalances that affect estrogen and progesterone levels. You also need specific nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and B vitamins, as well as fish oil, to keep your hormones optimally balanced, yet it can be hard to get all of the nutrients you need every day from your diet.

We’re not going to tell you that the “solution” to having too much stress is to eliminate all the stressors you face. That’s just not realistic for any woman today. But good detoxification, adequate sleep and emotional wellness techniques can go a long way in reducing the negative effects stress creates in your body — as they can take you a long way on the path to finding health and happiness.

These are just a few of the ideas that make up the Women’s Health Network approach to healing and hormonal balance.

Why not get started now?

Last Updated: February 27, 2023
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