While irregular periods aren’t always a sign that something is wrong, they’re an important signal to tune into. We’ve covered some of the symptoms that can show up alongside them. Now let’s look at the possible causes:
Stress: When we feel threatened, worried, or under pressure, our body releases so-called stress hormones that can suppress our reproductive hormones, leading to irregular periods. This can also happen with extreme exercise - a form of stress on your body.
PCOS is a complex condition in which the ovaries produce high levels of the male sex hormone androgen. This can disturb ovulation and disrupt your menstrual cycle, leading to missed or irregular periods.
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones to regulate functions such as your menstrual cycle.
Uterine polyps and fibroids are noncancerous growths that form within the uterus. In rare cases, they can become cancerous. These growths can interfere with your cycle in a few ways. For example, fibroids can stimulate the growth of blood vessels, which can increase the amount of blood you release during and outside of your period.
Infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can cause inflammation of your reproductive organs and delay your periods.
Premature ovarian failure occurs when the ovaries don’t produce enough oestrogen or release eggs regularly.
Cervical erosion is when cells that normally line the inside of your cervix start growing on the outside of your cervix (the lower end of the uterus). These cells are more sensitive and can cause bleeding or spotting during or after sex. They can also lead to vaginal discharge that contains blood.
Menopause is when someone has gone 12 months without a menstrual period following a drop in oestrogen and progesterone. Periods can also become irregular during perimenopause, our body’s natural transition phase into menopause.
Prolactinoma is a non-cancerous tumour of the pituitary gland causing decreased levels of oestrogen and testosterone.
Gynaecological cancers, while rare, can cause bleeding between periods (intramenstrual bleeding) which may make it seem like your periods have become irregular.