Do you have irregular periods? The answer to that question may be "yes" if your periods occur more or less often than average, if the length of your menstrual cycle varies from one month to the next, or if you experience an unusual amount of bleeding.
Many women have irregular periods. Often, they’re simply an inconvenience and not a sign of a medical condition. In some cases, however, they indicate a health issue that requires evaluation. Treatment may make your periods more regular.
Here at Albany Obstetrics & Gynecology, our care providers understand that having irregular periods can interfere with your life. Our extensive experience in women's health guides us as we determine the cause of your irregular periods and what treatments are needed.
The long and short of it
Menstrual periods typically occur every 24-38 days. If you have irregular periods, you experience menstrual bleeding more or less often than that.
Irregular periods may also last longer than usual. Typically, periods last 3-7 days, but irregular periods may be very short or last longer than a week.
Other signs of irregular menstruation include reaching age 15 without a first period or having excessive bleeding, which means needing to change your pad or tampon more often than every 1-2 hours.
Irregular periods are more common in younger women (during the first few years of menstruation) and older women (those approaching menopause). For younger women, periods usually become more regular over time. For older women, periods eventually stop.
You may also experience irregular periods in times of stress, with heavy exercise, or when you take certain medications.
Don't ignore them
Irregular periods should always be evaluated by one of our experts because they might be a sign of any of these medical conditions:
- Bleeding disorders
- Eating disorders
- Hormone imbalances
- Ovarian cysts
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Premature menopause
- Reproductive tumors
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Thyroid disorders
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Uterine fibroids or polyps
Evaluating irregular periods
If you have irregular periods, we begin your checkup with questions about your periods, including how often you get them, how heavy they are, and whether you have cramping, pelvic pain, or other symptoms related to your periods.
We also ask you about your overall health, your gynecological health, your sexual health, and your reproductive history.
Then, you’ll have a pelvic exam and any other tests that may be necessary.
Once we determine the cause of your irregular periods, we may recommend treatment. The type of treatment you receive depends on your diagnosis. For example, if you have a medical condition, treatment addresses that condition.
We may also recommend hormonal medication to help get your periods on track. For many women, taking hormonal birth control pills or using a hormonal IUD works well.
Have your irregular periods checked
Don't wait to have your irregular periods evaluated. Call our office in Albany, New York, or use our contact form to make an appointment.