Irregular Periods: What your body is trying to tell you

Women – at some point in their lives – will have a “period” moment that spawns questions. Why is my flow so heavy? Where is my period? Why am I getting my period twice in one month? Though irregular periods aren’t uncommon for many women, it’s important to understand the reasons they happen and what your body is trying to tell you.


When pregnant, the female body produces different levels of hormones that cause menstruation to stop. In some cases, however, women will experience lighter-than-normal flows or late periods before menstruation ends altogether. If there’s a chance you may be pregnant, speak with your doctor.


Stress is the most common cause of irregular periods. Cortisol, the stress hormone, has a direct impact on how much estrogen and progesterone, two sex hormones, gets produced by the body. If you have too much cortisol in your bloodstream, the time and flow of your cycle could change.


Another common reason for a late or missing period is the food you eat. If you’re eating a diet that’s rich in unhealthy carbs or if you’ve gained weight, your body will produce varying levels of certain hormones, shifting when you ovulate. The same goes for women as they lose weight.


If you’re burning too much of your energy in the gym, there will be nothing left for your body to use during that time of the month, when your body needs energy. So, it is a better to steer clear of strenuous work-outs and just do simple ones.

Birth control pills

It can take several months for your body to get used to the dose of hormones birth control pills deliver. It can affect the frequency and/or intensity of menstruation.

Drinking too much alcohol

The liver helps regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle by metabolizing estrogen and progesterone. Excessive drinking can cause damage to the liver and may interfere with how well it metabolizes both period-normalizing hormones.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

A fairly common complication, this condition causes cysts (round sacs in the deeper part of the body) to form on the ovaries, interfering with regular ovulation. Other symptoms of the condition include hair growth, weight gain, dandruff and infertility. Complications include endometriosis, ovarian cancer and heart disease.


As with pregnancy, this time of life happens when hormone levels in the body begin to shift. Irregular periods can start as early as 10 years before menopause sets in (usually when a woman is in her late 40s or early 50s).\

Taking medications

If you were recently sick and had to take prescription or over-the-counter medication, your period may show up a day or two late. That’s largely because most medications interfere with the way your body produces estrogen and progesterone.

Depending on the cause of your irregular period, speaking to your healthcare provider about the symptoms you’ve been having and how irregular your periods have been would be a good idea. That way you will be ahead of the game if it’s being caused by a serious condition that requires treatment.