A regular menstrual period is known to last 28 days or up to 35 days and the period of bleeding usually isn’t more than 7 days. These are average numbers, but every woman is unique and many women experience periods out of this order. However, if you notice a sudden change in your period compared to how it was before, it may mean that a condition called irregular menstrual period is occurring.

Some of the symptoms of irregular menstrual periods involve either very long periods, with an extended bleeding time, or periods that show up earlier than they should. This doesn´t necessarily mean that there will be any symptoms or complications. However, an irregular menstrual period is sometimes an indicator of other conditions within the body, such as a thyroid disorder, where the thyroid is more or less active than usual and may suppress ovulation.

Diabetes may also affect the period, pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, or polycystic ovary syndrome. A polycystic ovary syndrome affects the menstrual period, as the formed cysts on the ovaries can cause a hormonal change and hereby suppress the normal ovulation. When having irregular menstrual periods, it’s best to seek medical attention, as it has been proven that suffering from this irregularity for a longer period of time, may lead to the formation of endometrial cancer. There are several reasons, why a sudden change within the menstrual period may occur.

1. Warfarin

It’s used to help reduce the formation of blood clots, can cause heavy bleeding that lasts more days than the usual, normal period. If you notice that you´re bleeding heavier since taking this medication, or if you bleed in between your cycle, you should consult your doctor about whether you should stop taking this medication and find an alternative to treating the blood clots.

2. Aspirin

It is often used in patients who had a stroke, as it helps against blood clots. If it’s taken for a longer period of time it may start affecting your period similar to the warfarin pills, by leading to heavier menstrual cycles. An opposite effect is present after taking painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen. These medications have the tendency to cause a lighter menstrual period. Certain thyroid medication affects the period as well, as they replace the natural thyroid hormone, causing a hormonal change within the body.

3. Antidepressants

These medications are known to cause discomfort and pain during the menstrual period, severe cramping, heavier bleeding or sometimes a missed period. Epilepsy treatment medication is also known to cause changes in the patient’s menstrual cycle. Usually, its symptoms are a missed period or a heavier and longer period. Patients, who notice these symptoms while taking medication to treat epilepsy, should notify their doctor and consider an alternative medication.

4. Cancer therapy

Undergoing cancer treatment can cause big changes in the cycle and make it completely different from month to month. Some women don’t get their period at all throughout the treatment but have their period return after finishing it.

5. Stress and anxiety

This can also cause changes in the cycle. Women who are experiencing more stress or anxiety may soon begin to miss their period, repeatedly if the stress levels remain elevated. Stress can lead to a hormonal change within the body, which can affect the production of estrogen and hereby ovulation. If the stress is so high that it’s affecting your menstrual cycle, it is time to take action and do all things possible to change the situation. There are several ways that help to cope and deal with stress, as well as letting go of it at the end of each day. Reducing stress level is important for you to start having your menstrual cycle again.

6. Puberty

Women go through hormonal changes many times throughout life, especially during puberty, where the development of breasts starts and with it the first period. During puberty, the pituitary gland starts to release the hormone that leads to the necessary ovary stimulation, in order to produce estrogen and progesterone. During this time, having an irregular period is completely normal, as it sometimes takes time to gain a certain regularity in the cycle, until the sudden hormone level releasement reaches its constant level.

7. Menopause

Women very commonly experience a change in the menstrual cycle just before menopause kicks in. This is normal, knowing that during menopause the hormone production stops following its regular pattern and regularity, and starts releasing hormones less frequently, or at a lower level at a certain time. This leads to symptoms similar to girls going through puberty, the hormonal change may cause the periods to be heavier than usual, last longer than usual, or sometimes and every now and then there is no period at all.

8. Change in weight

Sudden and severe weight gain or weight loss, may have just as much of an impact on the menstrual period and most often weight gain will lead to heavier periods while weight loss to missed periods.

9. Excessive exercise

Exercising excessively and doing some particular exercises may lead to missed periods. This is due to a body mechanism, which goes into a state of survival and starts shutting down all organs that aren’t essential. This change of state happens when the energy levels are being expanded during exercise and not balanced through adequate nutrient intake. This is why athletes and anyone who is an active need to take care of their diet and make sure to take in all-important nutrients. This can lead to long-term complications and shouldn’t be left untreated.

10. Pregnancy

Until today, pregnancy remains the most common reason for an irregular period. Women who are pregnant miss the periods altogether and start missing their first period usually after four weeks of conception. Sometimes, pregnancy doesn´t lead to missed periods but irregular periods, which is why it usually goes unnoticed at first, if the woman doesn’t react to the symptom of missed periods and visits a doctor to check for the reason.