Why is my period sometimes irregular?
If you miss your period and have had unprotected sex, the first thing to check for is pregnancy. You can take a pregnancy test at home or come into to New Gen! Why would missing a period be a sign of pregnancy?? Leave a comment with the answer for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Old Navy!!!!
Different pregnancy tests need different amounts of time after a sexual encounter to show pregnancy. At our clinic, at least 10 days need to pass after a missed period.
That being said, when a pregnancy test comes back negative, many girls wonder why they would have missed a period or why they only get their period a few times a year without being pregnant. Almost every woman misses a period at some point in her life, for many reasons:
Age: For the first few years after a woman starts menstruating (in her teens) and for a few years leading up to her last period (in her 40’s or 50’s), it is common for periods to be irregular. This has to do with the body’s adjustment to having a menstrual cycle or not having a menstrual cycle and changing hormone levels.
Birth Control: Many birth control methods can impact your cycle. Check out the list below to see which methods do what to your period.
- The pill, patch and ring: These methods usually cause very regular periods, happening during the fourth week of the method when there are no hormones. Usually the periods are lighter, and shorter. Women sometimes have some spotting at other times in the first month or two of starting this method
- The Depo shot: Bleeding can be very irregular at first, but will likely get lighter and lighter and possibly disappear entirely.
- The Implanon: Tends to make women’s bleeding irregular. This could be many months of no bleeding, bleeding or spotting at irregular times, or spotting throughout the month.
- The Mirena IUD (hormonal, 5 year): bleeding can be very irregular at first, but tends to get lighter and usually stops entirely.
- The Paragard IUD (copper/non-hormonal, 10 year): Women usually have a period in the same pattern as when using no hormonal birth control method (whether that is every month or not), but it is slightly longer, heavier and crampier than their normal periods.
- Many women worry if they aren’t getting their periods that their bodies may be “clogging up” — but don’t worry, if you are not having your period because of a birth control method it means that your body is simply not creating the uterine lining (hormones are what control the uterine lining development).
- Missing a pill or patch – you can get unexpected bleeding or spotting for days afterward.
- Stopping the shot – you can have several months of no bleeding or irregular bleeding before your normal period returns.
- Taking the “morning after pill” can cause a little bleeding a day or two after you take it, and make your next period come a little earlier or later.
Stress/Changes: If your period is usually regular, stress can cause a delayed period. Perhaps you are feeling tired, worried, or dealing with a big change in your life. For whatever reason your body may decide it is not a good time to get pregnant. Over-exercise, poor nutrition, and sudden weight loss can all be kinds of “stress.”
Medical Problems: There are a couple medical problems that can cause skipped periods, including ovarian cysts, polycystic ovarian syndrome or amenorrhea. If you are not getting your period and are not sure why, check with your doctor or make an appointment at New Gen.
As you can see, this is a complicated issue! Periods can be as different as women’s bodies are, and many, many life factors can have an effect on our cycles. We recommend using a calendar to keep track! There are many free menstrual calendars online as well as many popular phone apps!
If your cycle ever changes or you simply have questions about your periods, come see us!
Next Week: Pads and tampons aren’t the only options when it comes to managing your period!!!
-Barbara Haupt, AmeriCorps Member
Reviewed by Debbie Davidson, NP