Irregular periods can occur for a number of reasons. Some women are simply more prone to irregular cycles than others; though the average cycle is 28 days, some women experience shorter cycles of 21 days, or longer cycles of 40 days, for example. The reasons for irregular periods are often nothing to be concerned about, because lifestyle changes to diet, exercise, and even stress levels can all affect the period, change the length of the cycle, or cause heavier or lighter periods. Certain medications, especially birth control, are another one of the most common reasons for irregular periods.
Often, one of the first signs of pregnancy is a missed period, so it is important to keep that in mind if pregnancy is a possibility. A medical condition, such as ovarian cysts, can also cause irregular periods that are often very painful. For this reason, it is a good idea to address the problem with a doctor if it doesn't resolve within a few menstrual cycles to be sure nothing more serious is occurring. Otherwise, the reasons for irregular periods can generally be pinpointed by examining any recent changes in lifestyle or overall physical health. Recent surgeries or illnesses, for example, are common causes of irregular periods.
Excessively exercising or following strict diets are some of the most common reasons for irregular periods. Such activities often leading to periods that are very light or skipped entirely. The cessation of a period is known as amenorrhea, and is frequently seen in women with eating disorders as well as in the above cases. Prolonged amenorrhea is not healthy, and even if the cause is heavy exercise, more than one or two missing periods is a sign that it may be time to cut back.
Birth control pills will also frequently make the period lighter or nonexistent, though some women have the opposite response and experience heavier periods or bleeding in between periods. Sometimes switching to a different brand of birth control pill can help to counteract these issues and regulate the cycle. It often takes some trial and error before finding one that works well.
Increased levels of stress and not getting enough sleep are also frequent reasons for irregular periods. Stress in particular can be very damaging to the body, so it is important to get it under control as much as possible. It is recommended that individuals get between six and eight hours of sleep every night; this will help to counteract stress, as well as promote normal menstrual cycles. These are just a few of the most common reasons for irregular periods, and it is important to monitor the cycle each month to be aware of any changes.