Just as not everyone has a temperature of 98.6 degrees, each woman has a different menstrual cycle. These natural differences make us unique, but can also make it harder to know when something’s not right.
Here’s how to tell what’s normal and what you should get checked out.
What’s Normal, What’s Not
The average period — counted from the first day of one period to the first day of the next — lasts 28 days. But anywhere between 21 and 35 days is considered normal for adult women.
Your period itself should last for two to seven days. The following are signs that your period is irregular:
- Cycles that last for less than 21 days or more than 35 days.
- Cycles that suddenly start to vary widely from month to month.
- Periods that last for less than two days or more than seven days.
- Skipped periods when you aren’t pregnant.
- Excessively heavy flow during your periods.
- Bleeding between periods, called “spotting.”
Talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. Your menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones, and an irregular cycle may be a sign of a hormonal condition. It could also signal a problem with your uterus, ovaries or other reproductive organs.
To read more about what’s normal and what isn’t for your period, check out our post.
Causes of Irregular Cycles
Young teens and women nearing menopause often have longer periods or unpredictable cycles. Beyond that, several health issues can throw your cycles out of whack. They include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (a hormonal imbalance that causes the ovaries to develop small collections of fluid and not release eggs regularly)
- Hyperprolactinemia(an abnormally high level of the hormone prolactin, which stimulates the production of breast milk)
- Eating disorders(extreme weight loss can lead the body to suppress the menstrual cycle to conserve energy)
- Thyroid disorders (the thyroid produces hormones that help regulate the menstrual cycle)
- Uncontrolled diabetes (a woman’s blood sugar levels often have a connection to her menstrual cycle)
Having irregular periods is more than just a nuisance. If the underlying issue isn’t treated, it may lead to other health problems over time. You may also find it harder to get pregnant, if you’re trying to conceive.
So, let your doctor know if your menstrual cycles seem to be off. Depending on the source of the problem, treatment options may include hormonal treatments, other medicines, and surgery.
Track Your Cycle
There are many different ways you can track your cycle to determine your unique rhythm. Look online for printable charts, a tracking diary, or period-tracker apps that you can download and use on your smartphone.
Your reproductive health is about more than your body. It’s about feeling like yourself again, in body, mind and spirit. AdventHealth doctors specialize in building relationships with women that help them treat the whole person.
If you’re looking to schedule an appointment, visit our website.