How common are irregular periods? There’s a lot of information floating around about what a period “should be.” I want to start this post by saying that everyone is different. Chances are, your period doesn’t show up on the exact same day at the same time every month -- and that’s okay! If your period is that regular, that is frikin’ awesome, and I’m envious of your less-stained underwear. Anyway, underwear aside, a lot of things can affect your cycle, such as hormonal birth control, other medications, or too much exercise.
My menstrual cycle totally ranges, but does that mean I’m “irregular”? For example, some months I bleed for just three days, and some months I’m bleeding for an entire week. A couple years ago I got the Mirena IUD which actually makes my period super light and some months even nonexistent.
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First, let’s go over what is considered a “regular” cycle. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, this means a cycle that ranges from 24 to 38 days, with bleeding on your period lasting up to 8 days.
If your cycle doesn’t sound like the “regular” one above, you’re surely not alone. Over 30% of women have irregular periods. If your period disappears, you never know when to expect it, or it’s just different every month, here are some actions you should take:
- First things first, talk to your doctor! I can’t stress how important getting a medical professional’s opinion is. In some cases, an irregular period is a sign of a health condition like PCOS or endometriosis (which each affect 10% of women). Your doctor knows the right questions to ask and she can make sure everything is working the way it should. Seeking professional medical help and advice is the best, first route to take.
- Once you go to the doctor, try using a period tracking app. We’re big fans of Flo, but there are *tons* of options out there. Spot On by Planned Parenthood and Tia are great, too. Try a few and test them for a whole cycle, then decide which one works best for you.
- If you’re having regular sex and your period is irregular or nonexistent, check out this quick flow chart to figure out how often and when to take a pregnancy test. Even if you’re on birth control, no method is 100% effective and you can take testing into your own hands to be safe.
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To sum it up, periods are a beautiful thing that can look different for everyone. Take the time to get in tune with your body and understand why your cycle looks the way it does.