Illustration of woman with period tracker on a tablet

Let’s face it – no one is worse at timekeeping than your period. Most of us will experience irregular periods – whether they’re late, early, or missed altogether!

Even though periods are usually explained to us as the 5-7 days a month in the menstrual cycle where our uterus lining is shed as blood, in reality we know it’s much more complicated than that; some months you may have two weeks of heavy bleeding and other months you could have no period at all! 

Whether you’ve only just started getting your period or you’re a period pro, we can bet you’ve come to realise that the length and heaviness of your periods can seem like a monthly lottery, filled with uncertainty. However, just because you have irregular periods it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong!

What qualifies as an irregular period?

Irregular bleeding can mean many things. It could be that you’ve started bleeding earlier or later than usual. You could be experiencing unusually light bleeding or a heavier than normal flow. Or it can mean the absence of your period (amenorrhea) or having two periods in one month (metrorrhagia). Although these medical terms may sound alarming, don’t be scared to ask your doctor for help if you’re particularly worried about your irregular periods.

What are some of the causes of irregular periods?

There are many possible causes of irregular periods and unsurprisingly nearly all of them are related to hormonal changes; so let’s take a look at these:


Puberty is all about change and adjustment – and that doesn’t exclude your periods! As your body regulates the release of new hormones, not only are irregular periods common but they are to be expected – so give it time as it goes through this milestone marking the beginning of adulthood.


In contrast to puberty, perimenopause (the time leading up to and around menopause) involves the start of your body slowing down and stopping ovulation (and if you don’t ovulate, you won’t have a period). 

So as the amount of oestrogen and progesterone gradually decreases and ovulation doesn’t happen as regularly, it is likely that your periods will start to become more irregular until they eventually stop altogether.

Pregnancy and childbirth

During pregnancy you will most definitely experience changes with your menstrual cycle and not having your period is one of the first signs that you may be pregnant. But also, after giving birth it’s normal for you to experience a specific type of discharge (also known as lochia) before your periods eventually return.

These changes are a natural part of your pregnancy and postpartum journey as your body adapts to provide a nurturing environment for a baby, and then begins to heal itself after the baby’s birth.


Some types of contraception have the potential to disrupt your period cycle as the majority of them release hormones to your body, which prevent sperm from reaching the egg. The addition of these hormones can alter your menstrual cycle; making your periods irregular for a short while, but after your body adapts to the level of new hormones your period should begin to regulate itself – so try your best to be patient!


It’s also common for stress to take its toll on your period. You might have started at a new school or job, or maybe you’re experiencing problems with your love life. Maybe a family argument or upcoming exam is making you feel a little more anxious than usual. Stress produces a hormone called cortisol and too much of it in your bloodstream can interfere with the amount of oestrogen and progesterone (the hormones responsible for your period) that your body produces. 

And this can interfere with your period cycle. But we will all have to go through stressful periods in our lives, so when this happens, you may want to consider making time to e exercise, confide in a close friend or meditate. We know how easy it can be to ironically stress about feeling stressed, but when it comes to your period and your body, there isn’t much that you can do yourself apart from be patient and allow your body time to adjust.

Can you get your period more than once a month?

Just when you thought your one period per cycle was enough, it is possible for you to get your period more than once in one month (although it isn’t very common). Bleeding twice or more in a month is thought to be due to a hormone imbalance, and can come as a result of any of the causes that we have mentioned above. And yes, the last thing we need are two rounds of PMS in one month, but that is just how it goes sometimes – if you are worried about it though, you can go and see your gynaecologist for further information and help.

What about if I’ve missed a period?

Missing a period, or even periods can be concerning and worrying. It can help to find out the reason behind it quickly, so you can put your mind at ease and start working towards solving the problem (if there is one). 

One of the first signs of pregnancy is missing a period, so if you’re sexually active it’s wise to check by taking a pregnancy test or seeing a doctor. 

The other many reasons for missing a period are also similar to possible causes of irregular periods: 

  • Stress 
  • Sudden weight loss 
  • Being overweight 
  • Excessive exercise 
  • Contraceptives 
  • Menopause 

Your periods stopping can also sometimes be the result of a medical condition, such as PCOS, heart disease, uncontrolled diabetes, an overactive thyroid or premature menopause. For this reason, if you’ve missed more than 3 periods in a row, and you’ve checked that you aren’t pregnant, you should make an appointment with your doctor so that they can give you the best medical advice.

Should I do anything about an irregular period?

We understand that irregular periods aren’t the stuff that dreams are made of, but you don’t need to be alarmed or particularly worried about them right away. As we’ve seen, your period cycle can be thrown off balance due to a number of factors but it does tend to regulate itself on its own – after all, the body is great at pivoting and adjusting to hormonal and/or other changes. 

However, sometimes particularly frequent or irregular periods can also be the sign of a medical problem or an infection, so if you have irregular periods for longer than three months, then it might be a good idea to talk to a doctor so they can provide you with the best solutions and guidance. 

It’s also good idea to keep track of the length and frequency of your periods by either jotting them down in a journal or using a period tracker. And if you’re worried about a period taking you by surprise, pop a pad or two in your bag just in case. 

Fancy learning more about period related issues? Head over to our page on period problems to find out more.

Medical disclaimer

The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.

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