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Are Irregular Periods Normal? By Rosie Ward

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Irregular periods can seem scary! We’ve all been taught in sex education classes that the menstrual cycle lasts around a month, with bleeding occurring from around 5-7 days. But for many women, this just isn’t the case. It’s not unusual for your cycle to either be longer or shorter than this average and for this to vary month on month. 


Hormones play a massive part in your cycle, from length, flow, pain and regularity. Some women may suffer from irregular periods and aren’t sure why. In this article, we will see if it is normal to miss a period and some of the reasons that may be interfering with your menstrual cycle. 


Is It Common To Miss A Period? 

Having irregular periods is far more common than most people think! Up to 25% of women have irregular periods, meaning the cycles are shorter or longer than the expected 28 days or are significantly heavier or lighter than normal. It is particularly common for young girls in the years following puberty.  It’s also not out of the ordinary for you to skip a period altogether, and this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pregnant, stress can cause this too! But if you miss more than one do speak with your GP and if there is a chance you may be pregnant we would always recommend you do a test!


How To Limit The Impact Of Irregular Periods In Your Life

Not knowing when your next period is going to start can be incredibly inconvenient! It makes it difficult to plan ahead and do activities with friends, families and partners, especially if you experience painful symptoms during your period. Even if your period is irregular, tracking it can still be useful to help you spot patterns and notice any significant changes. There are many apps that allow you to easily track your period and your symptoms. Carrying period products around with you,  painkillers if you get cramps,  and of course your Fab Little Bag sanitary bags for easy disposal, means you can be prepared if your period starts unexpectedly. Also, if you’re out with friends or a partner and you notice you’ve started bleeding, letting them know can allow them to help you out and accommodate this in their plans. 


When Should You Worry About Having Irregular Periods?

For many people, irregular periods are completely normal and no cause for concern. However, in certain cases, they can be a sign of a medical condition. There might not be anything wrong but you should see a GP if you have periods more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days or alternatively if there's a big difference (at least 20 days) between your shortest and longest menstrual cycle. Also, you should get checked out if your period lasts longer than 7 days, it is not normal to bleed heavily for long periods ( excuse the pun!) . 


But don’t panic if you fit any of these criteria! Talking to a doctor can be reassuring and help you understand your own body. If they don't respond well, insist on a referral to a specialist. 


What Causes Irregular Periods?

Depending on your age and circumstances, there may be a clear reason for the irregularity of your cycle. If you are going through puberty, it is not uncommon for your periods to be irregular. he start of menopause, which usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, it can have a similar effect due to hormonal changes in your body. 


Another reason may be that if you’re sexually active, then an irregular period may be a sign that you are pregnant. You can take a pregnancy test to rule this out. 


Fluctuations in weight and extreme weight change or excessive stress can also lead to irregularity- an active and balanced lifestyle is ideal for optimal health. If none of these circumstances apply, then the irregularity may be caused by a medical condition, for example, polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal condition which affects how your ovaries work. This is why it's important to discuss any concerns with your GP.

Your friendly fabber

Rosie Ward