Irregular Periods

It’s not all that unusual to miss a period or have some spotting. But sometimes irregular and missed periods can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

What are menstrual irregularities?


Menstrual irregularities are when you do not have a normal period. You may have:

  • Heavy bleeding during your period

  • Frequent periods

  • Skipped periods

  • Bleeding between periods

  • Pain before or during your period

What causes menstrual irregularities?


Menstrual irregularities, or irregular periods, can be caused by many things. They can be part of normal female development or from something more serious. Your doctor can help identify the cause of your abnormal bleeding.

There are many causes of irregular periods, depending on the type. You may have missed periods, irregular periods, or bleeding between periods if you:

  • Are an adolescent and have just starting getting your period

  • Have diabetes

  • Have thyroid problems

  • Are too thin, losing weight or not eating enough

  • Exercise very often

  • Have a high level of the hormone prolactin

  • Are on certain medicines

  • Are going through perimenopause

  • Have a condition called PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)

  • Are pregnant

  • Are under a lot of stress or are traveling

It’s not all that unusual to miss a period or have some spotting. But sometimes irregular and missed periods can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

How are irregular periods diagnosed?


Your doctor can often find out the reason for your irregular periods just by doing a normal exam. Your doctor might:

  • Ask you about your symptoms

  • Get your medical history

  • Take your weight, blood pressure, and other measurements

  • Do a blood test

  • Take pictures of the inside of your uterus

  • Take a small piece of tissue from your uterine lining to look at under a microscope


Complete OB/GYN care

MaineHealth provides obstetrics and gynecology services at doctor’s offices, specialty clinics and community hospitals. The OB-GYNs at MaineHealth provide women’s reproductive care that is skilled and compassionate.

You might heavy or long periods if you:

  • Have uterine fibroids or polyps

  • Have a bleeding disorder

  • Have an overactive thyroid

  • Have liver disease

You might have pain before or during your period if you:

  • Have heavy bleeding during your period

  • Smoke

  • Have depression

  • Have an infection in your uterus

  • Have never had a baby

  • Have a condition called endometriosis

Irregular periods can’t be prevented, but they can be treated.  If your irregular period is caused by an underlying condition, like diabetes or PCOS, your irregular periods may go away when the condition is treated. A doctor may prescribe birth control pills to help adjust the hormones that control your period.


You can help your doctor understand your irregular periods by tracking your cycle. To do this, keep track of:

  • The date your period starts and how long it lasts

  • How long between periods

  • How heavy or light the bleeding is

  • Any symptoms your feel during your period, like pain or mood changes

  • Any stressful events that happened that month

  • Bleeding between periods

There are applications that can help you track these, such as My Fertility Friend, or you can simply use  pen and paper.