This occurs when the length of your menstrual cycle (the gap between one period and the next) changes frequently.
Having irregular periods is not always a sign that something is wrong. It is usually common in the teenage years and as women are near menopause.
What are the causes of irregular periods?
Aside puberty and menopause, the following can also cause irregular periods:
- Stress which could both be physical or emotional, excessive weight gain or weight loss, excessive physical exercise.
- Medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid problems, or uncontrolled diabetes.
- Infections: Occasionally an infection of the vagina or the female reproductive organs can cause irregular periods.
- Contraceptives (Birth control medicines) can sometimes be the cause of irregular menses in women
What should I do about this problem?
You do not need to do anything if your periods have always been irregular or you are still going through puberty or approaching menopause.
However if you you do not fall into this categories and your periods have suddenly become irregular after having normal cycles you should see your doctor.
You should use the following criteria as a guide:
- you have periods more frequently than every 21 days or less frequently than every 38 days
- your periods last longer than 7 days
- You are having difficulty getting pregnant
What is the treatment?
The treatment will depend on the cause of your irregular periods. Your doctor might carry out examinations and tests to check for any cause. They may refer you to a gynaecologist if required.