Irregular periods are common during puberty or just before the menopause and in these cases treatment is usually not necessary.
When should I see my doctor?
Talk to your doctor if you have any of the following changes in your periods:
- you have very heavy periods, where you need to change your tampon or pad every hour or two, or you have to wear both a pad and a tampon
- your periods last longer than seven days
- there are fewer than three weeks between the start of one period and the next
- you have bleeding or spotting between periods
- you are bleeding after sex
Your doctor will ask about your periods, lifestyle and medical history to find the underlying reason for your irregular cycle.
Any necessary treatment will depend on the reason for your irregular periods.
Changing your method of contraception
If you have recently been fitted with an and are experiencing irregular bleeding that does not settle within a few months, discuss changing to another method of contraception with your doctor.
If you have started taking a new contraceptive pill that is causing irregular bleeding, you may be advised to change to another type of pill.
Treating polycystic ovary syndrome
For overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the symptoms can be improved by losing weight, which will also help with irregular periods. By losing weight, your body does not need to produce as much insulin, which reduces testosterone levels and improves your chance of ovulation (releasing an egg each month).
Other treatments for PCOS include hormone treatment and diabetes medication.
Treating thyroid disorders
Treatment for thyroid disorders aims to return the level of thyroid hormones in your blood to normal.
You may need to take medication to stop your thyroid gland producing too many (hyperthyroidism), or too few hormones.
Your menstrual cycle should return to normal after treatment. If it does not, see your doctor.
Counselling and stress management
Stress or sudden weight loss may be diagnosed as a cause of irregular periods. Relaxation techniques, stress management or counselling (talking to a therapist) may be recommended.