Physical Health Reproductive and Sexual Health

Irregular Periods

Ladies, let’s be honest. At one point or another, we’ve all experienced this. Your period is late, you’re not sexually active, and yet pregnancy scares have your convinced that you’re the next Virgin Mary.

First of all, the Virgin Mary thing? That doesn’t happen very often.

Second of all, irregular periods are common, especially before the age of 20. If your period occurs with approximately the same number of days between each cycle, your period is considered regular.

Periods can be earlier, later, lighter, or heavier. They can last longer/shorter than usual or not occur at all. Caused by hormone imbalances, these discrepancies can result from factors other than pregnancy, including:

  • Stress or fatigue: For us students, these may be the most common factors. Cortisol, the stress hormone, directly influences estrogen/progesterone production and alters the time/flow of your cycle.
  • Illness: The medications you take can interfere with hormone production or cause stress/fatigue.
  • Weight fluctuations: For example, women with anorexia or bulimia tend to have irregular periods.
  • Intense exercise: For instance, endurance athletes can sometimes have irregular periods.
  • Excess alcohol consumption: The liver helps regulate the menstrual cycle by metabolizing the sex hormones and can be damaged by drinking. This can lead to irregularity or absence of periods.
  • Birth control pills: Your body will need time to adjust to the new doses of hormones.

Depending on the cause of the irregularity, there may not be much you can do to mitigate the problem other than ensuring that you make time to relax throughout the day, eat regularly, eat healthy, and exercise moderately. If you’ve been experiencing irregular periods for a relatively short amount of time (less than 7 months), your period should regularize by itself in time. However, if the problem persists, you should go see a doctor or gynecologist. Consistently irregular periods may be an indicator of an underlying medical condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid disorders, endometriosis, or menopause.

However, if you have had sexual relations within the last month, the best course of action to take is an at-home pregnancy test. Taking the at-home pregnancy at least a week after your missed period and in the morning when your urine is most concentrated will provide you with the most accurate results. If the test is negative, consult a doctor immediately, and refer to this article for further advice if needed.


Article by Sherry Jiaa

Feature Image Source: Healthable