If you are somebody who menstruates, chances are you have heard the term “irregular periods” before. Hell, you may have even experienced them!
I think there is a lot of confusion and debate when it comes to defining irregular periods. So I’m going to make it simple, you have irregular periods if the gap between yours keeps changing.
Late periods are the most commonly associated symptom but really you’re looking at any variation in frequency. This could be early or late.
Fun fact: I have experienced more irregular cycles than I have regular.
For years, we have used the template of a 28 day cycle as the norm. However, recent studies have shown 28 days is no longer the average or as common as you think. In fact after analysing date from over 600,000 menstrual cycles, their findings showed that only 13% of cycles were 28 days in length. This is why I think it’s incredibly important to define what a regular cycle is to you. Don’t compare with anyone else, just try to get a picture of what your regular cycles look like. This will make it easier to spot if there are any changes or cause for concern.
Keep a record of your irregular cycles
If you are experiencing irregular cycles and want to discuss with a doctor, it’s a good idea to keep a record. If you can define what a regular period is for you, it should be easier to pinpoint whenever they deviate from the norm.
Things to make note of: cycle lengths, how long you bleed for when they do arrive, as well as any other symptoms you think may be cause for concern.
Read up on causes of irregular cycles
This may seem like a bad idea but hear me out! Unfortunately, many are still dismissed when reaching out to doctors. It is awful but until more time and funding is dedicated to reproductive health, we must advocate for ourselves.
One way to do this is to read up on causes and try to rule some out yourself. You know your body better than any doctor, and ultimately know if the cause is something more than stress for example. I was told for years my irregular periods were due to weight and stress, I was eventually diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
Try remember that progress is rarely linear
As frustrating and cliché as it sounds, it is important to remind yourself this. We measure our periods as a whole but I honestly think it’s better to take it month by month. One bad period doesn’t undo months of good ones, that progress isn’t lost.
There are a wild number of factors that can affect periods at any given time, don’t be so hard on yourself!