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Irregular Periods: Causes, Concerns, and Solutions

Being a woman means your body constantly goes through hormone fluctuations. It could result from your period, pregnancy, menopause, and more. Most women also know how their period could affect them. They may have headaches, feel out of sorts, and suffer from menstrual cramps, to name a few. these are all some of the normal issues that go along with a female body. But irregular periods, something experienced by many women, may not be normal. If you are one of those women who experience irregular periods, you may want to determine the cause and do something about it.

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle

An image of a woman holding a calendar marked with her menstrual cycle daysA girl’s first period is called menarche. It often starts between the ages of ten and 16 years of age. When you get your first period, it heralds the start of puberty. This monthly cycle continues until you reach menopause, which usually occurs between 40 and 55 years.

Your monthly cycle refers to the number of days from the start of your period till the first day of your next period. The average number of days for such a cycle is about 28 days. Some women may have a shorter, and others, a longer cycle.

A young woman may notice that she does not have a regular cycle within the first two years or so of starting her period. She may skip periods or have them closer together. This is normal in younger women and usually starts to form a more consistent pattern as they get older. Furthermore, early periods may last from a day or two to a week or more.

How Menstruation Works

Your body begins preparing an egg for fertilization during the start of your cycle. This also sees a thickening of the uterus lining in preparation for a fertilized egg. Two weeks before your period, your body will release this egg. It travels through your fallopian tubes before reaching the uterus. If fertilization does not take place, however, your body will shed this lining, known as the endometrium.

Getting your period indicates that a woman’s body is ready to conceive, but it also indicates the fact that she is not pregnant. It is the part of your cycle whereby your body sheds the endometrium, the uterus lining. The endometrium is released through the vagina. This is what a woman experiences as her period.

The cycle of a fully mature woman may last anywhere between 24 and 38 days, and menstruation may last anywhere between two and eight days. Each woman is different.

When Are My Periods Irregular?

The term oligomenorrhea refers to irregular periods. Although common in younger women, underlying health issues could cause this phenomenon in adult women.

A woman has irregular periods when her cycle suddenly changes. For example, she may have a normal cycle of 28 days, and then suddenly it may jump to 40 days. The time frames between your periods may also suddenly become much shorter.

Periods may last for more or fewer days than they usually do, and you may also lose more, or less, blood when dealing with irregular periods.

What Causes Irregular Periods?

Irregular periods could have many possible causes. While an occasional irregular period does not necessarily indicate possible health issues, frequent irregular periods are more likely to indicate a problem. It is important to see a doctor if you suspect a problem. These could also result in fertility issues if not addressed.

Cervical/Uterine Cancer

Cancer occurring in the womb area could result in unusual bleeding. A regular pap smear, which looks for cellular changes or precancers is thus one of the most important things a woman can do to ensure her continued health. The irregularities picked up from this test can usually easily be managed if identified in a timely manner.

Thyroid Issues

Your thyroid produces thyroid hormones that affect your body’s metabolic processes. Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), as well as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), could both result in hormone imbalances and irregular periods.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PID is often a complication resulting from sexually transmitted diseases and refers to an infection in a woman’s reproductive system. The symptoms of this condition include bleeding after sex and even between your periods. The condition is usually treated with antibiotics and should have no long-term effects if identified during the initial stages. If this infection spreads, however, you could see damage to both the uterus and fallopian tubes accompanied by chronic pain.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

The symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, having no periods, excessive hair growth which is referred to as hirsutism, acne, and obesity. A woman with PCOS also has fertility issues because she does not ovulate every month and also suffers from hormone imbalance. She may have high testosterone levels. This hormone is usually regarded as a male hormone.

In the USA, up to 20% of women of reproductive age may have PCOS. The condition could also occur in girls as young as 11 years of age.


An image of a uterus with cells growing on the outsideEndometriosis, a condition that sees cells that normally grow inside your uterus grow on the outside, could also result in irregular periods. Essentially, your uterine lining is found outside the uterus. Although endometriosis is not cancerous, it may, besides influencing your period, cause severe pain, tissue damage, and ultimately, infertility.

Weight Gain/Weight Loss

Obesity can affect your hormones and insulin levels, thereby possibly causing irregular periods. While losing some weight may help with this, losing too much weight or losing it too quickly could also affect your period frequency.


Some women going through extremely stressful times in their lives may find they miss a period on occasion. This is known as temporary amenorrhea because their period tends to return to normal once the stressful condition has been dealt with. Continuous stress, however, could result in adrenal fatigue and hormone imbalance.


While it is normal for younger women/girls to experience irregular periods, older, menopausal women may encounter the same. This is because of the hormone changes they go through during this time. Menopause refers to the day that a woman has not had a period for 12 months. After this, she is post-menopausal.


Certain medications and contraceptives may influence your cycle.

Other Possible Causes of Irregular Periods

Besides those mentioned, other possible causes of irregular periods include:

  • Excessive exercise such as marathon training
  • Eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Intra-uterine devices (IUDs)

The Importance of Hormonal Balance

Of the possible causes of irregular periods, just about all of them relate to hormone imbalance. There are many causes of hormone imbalance, but most of them can be tied back to stress. This stress may result from various sources and be physical, emotional, or environmental. It may even result from something as innocuous-sounding as your diet. It can also lead to adrenal fatigue.

In most cases, hormone imbalance in women results from estrogen dominance. While you would think this means your body has too much estrogen, this is not always the case. Estrogen dominance may also mean that while your estrogen levels are normal, the levels of other hormones, particularly progesterone, are low. The usual causes of estrogen dominance include obesity, excessive estrogen from environmental sources, lack of exercise, diet, adrenal dysfunction, and an underactive thyroid.

Your thyroid and adrenals form part of your hormonal axis. They are also a key part of your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response. A long-term hormone imbalance could result in numerous health issues that ultimately relate to adrenal fatigue.

Many of the signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue correlate with the causes or symptoms of hormone imbalance. These include, amongst others, weight gain, infertility, PMS, food cravings, irregular periods, and a decreased sex drive.

The Conventional Approach to Dealing With Irregular Periods

An image of a stethoscope, some pills in a blister pack, and a thyroidThe conventional approach to dealing with irregular periods may start with addressing thyroid problems. This may include the use of certain thyroid medication, surgery, or radioactive iodine therapy.

Many women with type-2 diabetes find that insulin-lowering medications will encourage regular periods.

Where contraceptive medications are to blame, a low-dose birth control pill containing both estrogen and progesterone may help because it helps decrease androgen production and thus helps address irregular periods.

Some medical practitioners may also suggest hormone therapy, especially in older, perimenopausal women. They may also suggest hormone treatments if you want to become pregnant but have irregular periods.

Irregular periods resulting from scarring or other physiological problems in the fallopian tubes may sometimes require surgery. This is usually recommended when a woman wants to have children.

On the whole, though, if your period issue is not due to a health condition and it does not bother you, you probably will not need any treatment. If it bothers you, but your healthcare practitioner cannot find a health issue causing the problem, it may be time to consider a natural approach to dealing with it. Your adrenal health may also be the cause.

A Natural Approach to Dealing With Irregular Periods

A natural approach to dealing with irregular periods starts by addressing whatever causes you stress. By reducing stress, you also provide your adrenals with some much-needed support. Besides talking to a therapist, you could also try various relaxation techniques designed to reduce stress.

Another aspect is exercise. The focus should be on gentle yet sustainable exercises. These include a brisk walk in the park, yoga, or even some vigorous gardening. The idea is to work up a light sweat and get your breathing up a little. You should not strain yourself because doing so could cause more harm than good, particularly if you have adrenal fatigue.

Following a healthy diet and avoiding trans fats, sugar, and processed foods is also important. The healthiest food options are home-cooked meals that include plenty of organic fruits and vegetables, and lean protein choices that include fatty fish, lean beef, and poultry.

Following a healthy diet may also help deal with excess weight. When you lose weight your body can produce less insulin, which may help deal with high testosterone levels and encourage ovulation. If hyperthyroidism is an issue, do remember to reduce the amount of iodine-rich foods in your diet as it encourages thyroid hormone production.

You could also consider herbal remedies. Good examples include chasteberry, turmeric, licorice root, and black cohosh. However, it is especially important to talk to your healthcare practitioner before starting any supplement for hormonal issues. Addressing hormone imbalance is an especially delicate issue, and many of these supplements could have serious side effects or could backfire in the wrong person.

How to Identify When Your Period Is Imminent

Women with irregular periods often find themselves unprepared for when it happens. However, the following signs can give you a good indication of whether it is occurring soon:

  • Are you bloated?
  • Do you have an acne breakout?
  • Are your stools suddenly looser than usual?
  • Do you have back cramps or feel stiff in that area?
  • Have you noticed your breasts feeling heavier or sore?
  • Has your sleep pattern changed?
  • Do you have headaches for no apparent reason?

While these examples do not apply to all women, you may notice a few of these symptoms around the time you have your period. So, if you are plagued by irregular periods, taking note of the changes experienced directly before the time will help you determine whether yours is on the way.

In Closing

An image of sanitary napkins and a heartIf you have irregular periods for an extended period, it is best to consult your healthcare practitioner to determine whether an underlying health issue could be to blame. Addressing it should result in a regular period. If, however, it is not due to an underlying health issue, here are some things you can do about the situation:

  • Get enough gentle exercise and look at your current diet.
  • Consider addressing weight issues if you have any.
  • Explore the use of herbals with the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Many women in our coaching program have irregular periods due to hormone imbalance issues. If hormone imbalance is the cause of your period issues, why not give us a call at 626-571-1234 for a free initial consultation? You can also request a callback here

© Copyright 2016-2022 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Irregular periods could be a cause of concern under certain circumstances, if certain underlying conditions are causing them. One of these is adrenal fatigue and hormone imbalance. There is much you can do, however, to address the situation if this is the case.

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