Why does my period start and stop irregularly?
We all know menstrual cycles can be as unique as the individual having them. However, an average period in an otherwise healthy person typically lasts for 5 days but can range from 2–7 days. An individual’s menstrual flow is usually heaviest during the first 2 days of their period. This isn’t the case with everyone. Many women also experience unpredictability in their cycles which prompts the question ‘why does my period start and stop irregularly’?
The good news is, it is rarely cause for alarm. But just to err on the side of caution, we want to break down some guidance surrounding what may cause or trigger your untimely periods, when to call the Doc, and how to manage a flow that flows when it wants versus when you expect it.
First, some stats:
An irregular menstrual cycle is one that is shorter or longer, lighter or heavier..
Menstrual irregularities may also involve light bleeding or “spotting” between periods.
Knowing the above can help you determine where you fall in the spectrum of normalcy and abnormal cycles worth looking deeper into.
The whole purpose of your menstrual cycle is to drain the body of vaginal blood and tissue, known as endometrium, that builds up in the uterus. It plays the important role of receiving and nourishing a fertilized egg for pregnancy.
As your monthly cycle evolves, this endometrium layer grows thicker and when an egg is not fertilized (in other words, you do not conceive), the endometrium sheds and is discarded via your menstrual period. It passes through your cervix (sometimes causing cramping) and out of your vagina onto your period products or period panties.
Therein lies the problem many women have. When they bleed, they sometimes do not have the products prepared for absorbing such and wind up staining their clothes or soaking their products and risk leaking through. This happens often with spotting as well because during the process, menstrual tissue can block the cervix, preventing or limiting blood and tissue from leaving the body, causing a brief pause in period flow. Typically, blockages clear and clots can come out, but they too can seem alarming.
So what causes irregular bleeding and questionable and surprise spotting? Everything below can impact how your body processes the period cycle:
- Extreme stress
- Excessive exercise
- Certain medications
- Change in diet or weight
- Effects of birth control
- Changes in hormones, like PCOS.
- Endometriosis or other medical conditions
So, when do you dial up your doctor? While many times there is no cause for alarm, we here at Apele think you should always stay in contact with your provider about anything that you personally prefer to get looked at. Nowadays, there are many resources available and quick tele-conference appointment options which make quick calls a breeze.
Why not ask your OBGYN what they think? Keep a log of your periods and any bleeding or cramping taking place. Even a change in discharge can be helpful in determining what is happening in the pelvic region. From there, you can make an educated decision about what you want to do to get back on track or to manage a temporarily off-track cycle.