This is why you might be experiencing irregular periods all of a sudden
So we asked period expert and author of the book You Can Have a Better Period, Le’Nise Brothers, exactly why we might suddenly be experiencing erratic periods or noticeable changes in our menstrual cycle. Below, she talks us through the six reasons why, though before we get there, she’s keen to reiterate that you needn’t hit the panic button straight away: “Your period and menstrual cycle are one of your vital signs, so changes are a sign to explore what’s going on with your health.”
She advises spending time noting the changes you’re experiencing so that you can have a “clear and empowered” conversation with your GP and get the practical help you deserve.
6 reasons why you might be suddenly experiencing irregular periods
1. Stress or trauma
A lot of us are much more stressed than we realise, taking on more than we have capacity for and playing Tetris with our schedule trying to fit it all in. Chronic stress, which can be physical, emotional or systemic, can wreak havoc our periods and menstrual cycles. Our brains, which help regulate our sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, FSH and LH, will de-prioritise reproductive function when we’re overly stressed.
If you’ve noticed changes to your period and menstrual cycle, take an honest look at your life, how much stress you’re under and how you’re managing that stress. Are you more stressed than you realise? Are you saying yes when you need to say no? Consider how you can build in stress release valves throughout the day – deep belly breathing, a full body stretch that gets you away from your screen, a few minutes staring mindlessly out of the window or a gentle stroll around your house or office.
2. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a multi-factorial condition with many symptoms, one of which is long menstrual cycles and irregular periods. There are 4 types of PCOS and a common symptom across all four types is a sex hormonal imbalance that can prevent or delay ovulation, leading to irregular periods and long menstrual cycles.
Go to your GP with at least 3 months worth of information about your period and menstrual cycle, including menstrual cycle length, the date(s) and length of your last period and any other symptoms you may be experiencing. You can then request blood testing to look deeper and understand which type of PCOS you may have.
3. Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA)
Hypothalamic amenorrhea refers to the absence of three or more periods in a row by someone who has had periods in the past or the absence of a period for at least 6 months or longer after menstruating normally. It doesn’t refer to someone who is missing their period due to using hormonal birth control, certain medications, pregnancy, breastfeeding, perimenopause or menopause. HA is typically caused by high levels of physical / emotional stress, excessive exercise, rapid weight loss or nutrient deficiencies acting as major stressors on the body, affecting the HPO (hypothalamic – pituitary – ovarian) axis: basically the way the brain communicates with the ovaries to regulate the menstrual cycle.