Irregular Menses

Julia Raber, MD

Gynecologist located in New Hyde Park, NY

Your menstrual cycle can reveal quite a bit about your reproductive health. Keeping track of when each of your periods start and end puts you in a better position to spot any irregularities in your menstrual cycle more quickly. It can also help you understand exactly how your cycle changes as you age. Board-certified gynecologist Dr. Julia Raber in New Hyde Park, New York, specializes in diagnosing and treating women with irregular menses. To learn more, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.

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Irregular Menses Q & A

What is a normal menstrual cycle?

Your menstrual cycle is a series of changes your body goes through each month to prepare for a possible pregnancy. A normal menstrual cycle lasts somewhere between 24 and 38 days, from start to finish.

During this time, one of your ovaries releases an egg (ovulation) and hormonal changes prepare your uterus for the possibility of embryo implantation. If your egg is not fertilized within a certain number of days, your uterus sheds its lining, causing you to experience a “period” of bleeding.

While the length of a normal menstrual period, or menses, can range from two to seven days, most women have periods that last four or five days.

Your period can fall within a broad range and still be considered normal: A normal period may be light or heavy, short or long, and painful or pain-free.

What causes irregular menses?

There are certain times in your reproductive life when irregular menses are more likely. Periods are often longer and less regular when they first begin, usually between the ages of 9-14. They can also be irregular starting in a woman’s 40s, as menstruation begins to wind down in preparation for menopause.

Although menstrual cycle irregularities are often harmless and short-lived, they can sometimes be symptomatic of an underlying gynecological problem, such as:

  • Hormone-related conditions: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), certain thyroid conditions, and stopping or changing birth control medications or menopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can all lead to irregular menses.
  • Noncancerous growths: Endometrial, uterine, and cervical polyps can cause unusually heavy periods or spotting between periods, as can uterine fibroids.
  • Reproductive infections: Gonorrhea, chlamydia, vaginitis, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), among others, may lead to painful or heavy periods, or bleeding between cycles.  
  • Cancer and precancerous conditions: Irregular menses may indicate a precancerous condition like endometrial hyperplasia, or it may be a sign of cervical, uterine, ovarian, or vaginal cancer.  

After the underlying cause of a concerning menstrual cycle irregularity is properly diagnosed through a physical exam and any necessary lab and imaging tests, Dr. Raber can recommend the best course of treatment.

How do I keep track of my cycle?

To get a better idea of what is normal for you, use a calendar to keep track of the start and end dates of each period. By noting the start date, you can see how regular your periods are, while recording the end date allows you to notice if your periods are usually the same, or if they are getting shorter or longer over time.

If you are concerned about your menstrual cycle, it is a good idea to also keep track of the heaviness of your flow, the presence of any blood clots, any pain you experience during your period, and any spotting you experience between normal periods.

If you are concerned about irregular menses, call Dr. Raber’s office or schedule an appointment online today.