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How do I know if I have an irregular period?

Welcome to Ask an Expert, the LOLA series where we find expert answers to your reproductive health questions. Dr. Navya Mysore, a primary care provider who works collaboratively with her patients, is answering a question on a lot of your minds: how do I know if I have an irregular period?

An irregular period can totally be normal, depending on where you are in your life…so if you are breastfeeding, if you just got your period for the first time, if you’re pregnant, if you’re perimenopausal or menopausal. These are all moments in your life where an irregular period can totally be normal. There are times where an irregular period isn’t normal, and for me I would worry if you’re not in those periods of your life and you’re having a consistently irregular period for more than 3 months. That to me would signal it’s time for you to go in and get that checked out with your primary care physician or your gynecologist.

How do I know if my period is irregular?

An irregular period, to me, would be a cycle that is shorter than 27 days or longer than 38 days. The other definition could be is if your time between each cycle varies more than 7-9 days, meaning one cycle is 27 days and then your next cycle or the length of time you have to wait to get your next period is 42 days, and that’s consistently happening over 3 months. That, to me, is an irregular period. I have patients who come in who have had it over two cycles, but they’ve also traveled a lot, they were sick a month ago, they have jet lag, they’ve been training for a marathon–all of those things can definitely give you an irregular period. Again, it’s more the consistency over time that would make me worry long-term. A lot of medical conditions can give you an irregular period. If you’ve got thyroid issues, polycystic ovarian syndrome, fibroids, endometriosis–all of those things can give you an irregular period. So, if you are consistently having an irregular period, definitely go see your primary care physician or your gynecologist. 

What should I do if I have an irregular period?

What I would say to a patient is “Come on in, let’s talk about it, let’s figure out what the reason could be.” If it’s a one-off, I’m not as worried. So, a lot of it would just be reassurance and monitoring. Having someone mark down their period is a great idea, so I usually suggest an app or an old fashioned paper and pen on your calendar. Marking it over a period of time to get an idea of what your pattern is or what your period looks like, and then bringing that information to your primary care provider or your gynecologist so we can figure out what the underlying issue is.

If you have any more serious concerns, please reach out to your primary care physician or your gynecologist. Feel free to continue the conversation below or use LOLA’s Ask an Expert page for more information!

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