Causes of Irregular Menstrual Periods

While there are some women who get their menstrual period every month like clockwork, others are not so lucky. One of the most common causes of a missed period is pregnancy. When pregnancy is not to blame, however, abnormal menstruation can be very frustrating. It can lead to unnecessary pregnancy scares and problems scheduling vacations. It is important to be aware of some of the potential causes of irregular menstrual periods.

Irregular Periods and Changes in Weight

A common cause of abnormal menstruation is changes in weight. Drastic weight gain or weight loss can cause the problem. Irregular periods are common among women with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Excessive exercise can also lead to irregular menstruation, which is likely because it can lead to drastic weight loss.

Health Conditions and Abnormal Menstruation

Certain illnesses can cause changes in menstrual periods. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, conditions which can cause a change in menstruation include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, uterine cancer, diabetes, thyroid conditions, cirrhosis of the liver and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).


Illnesses which cause drastic changes in weight or extreme stress can lead to irregular menstrual periods. Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, commonly cause abnormal menstruation. Any woman who experiences chronic stress, due to physical illness or for any other reason, may also experience the problem.

Irregular Menstrual Periods and Birth Control

Certain birth control methods can lead to abnormal menstruation due to changes in hormones. Going on or off the birth control pill can change the menstrual cycle. Extended cycle birth control pills, which lead to only four periods a year, can stop menstruation altogether. Some women on Depo-Provera report that it causes a change in their menstrual periods. The intrauterine device (IUD) can also cause irregular menstrual periods.

Medications and Changes in Menstruation

Medications aside from birth control which contain estrogen can lead to abnormal menstruation. Blood thinners and steroids can also increase the risk of irregular menstrual periods, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Certain illegal drugs are also known to cause the problem.

Although irregular menstrual periods are generally nothing to worry about, there are instances in which a health condition can be to blame. Anyone who is concerned about how frequently they are or are not menstruating should be sure to talk to their doctor. A routine physical examination can generally determine what the cause is. In some cases, treating a health condition or going on the birth control pill can be easy ways to ensure that menstruation occurs regularly.

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