Irregular Periods- Causes
Your menstrual cycle can be disturbed if you change your method of contraception or you have an imbalance of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
It is not unusual to have a hormone imbalance for a few years after puberty and before the menopause. This can cause your menstrual cycle to become longer or shorter. Your periods may also become lighter or heavier.
If your irregular periods are caused by these age-related factors, you will not usually need to see your doctor.
The following lifestyle factors can also upset your balance of hormones and cause irregular bleeding:
- extreme weight loss or weight gain
- excessive exercise
Injections- It may cause bleeding between periods. It doesn’t cause irregular periods, but can cause heavy bleeding or painful bleeding. Given at every 3 months interval, it can cause menstruation to stop for months.
Small bleeds, known as breakthrough bleeds, are common when the contraceptive pill is first used. They are normally lighter and shorter than normal periods, and usually stop within the first few months.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) occurs when very small cysts (small, fluid-filled sacs) develop in the ovaries.
The usual symptoms of PCOS are irregular or light periods, or no periods at all. This is because, in women with PCOS, ovulation (the release of an egg) may not take place as often as normal. Also, the production of hormones may be unbalanced, and you could have higher levels of testosterone than normal (this is a male hormone that women normally have a small amount of).
Irregular bleeding can also be due to unsuspected pregnancy, early miscarriage or problems with the womb or ovaries. Your gynaecologist (specialist in diseases of the female reproductive system) will ask for further investigation and treatment if needed.
A thyroid disorder is another possible but rare cause of irregular periods (the thyroid gland, found in the neck, produces hormones that maintain the body’s metabolism). Your doctor may test for a thyroid problem by taking a blood test to check levels of thyroid hormones in your blood.