Irregular periods always seem to come at the most inconvenient times. They make women question whether or not they are pregnant, and they make it crucial to keep their purses stocked with tampons just in case “shark week” decides to make an unwanted appearance. However, having an irregular period can be a way of a woman’s body telling them something is wrong. A regular menstrual cycle occurs every 21-35 days and lasts anywhere from 2-7 days. Once a woman has been menstruating for a while, her body will get into a pattern, which is why an irregular period is usually defined by an absent period or even two periods in one month. It is likely that every woman will experience an irregular period at least once in her life, and although in most cases they aren’t serious, it is important to look into what is causing the irregularity. Here are a few of the most common reasons women may be experiencing an irregular period.
Stress is one of the most common underlying causes of an irregular period. The stress hormone, cortisol, has a direct impact on how much estrogen and progesterone is produced in the female body. During stressful times, women may produce too much cortisol in their blood stream, thus causing their menstrual cycle to change. For a woman to have a normal cycle, the hypothalamus part of the brain must send these hormonal signals to the pituitary gland, which then sends signals to the ovaries and the uterus. The hypothalamus is located beside the area of the brain that controls human emotion. When experiencing an increase in stress, the neurotransmitters in these regions can shut down the signals to the hypothalamus and therefore stop the hormonal signals to the ovaries and uterus. Evolutionarily speaking, this makes perfect sense. If a woman is under a lot of stress either physically or emotionally, it is not the best time for a pregnancy, so the system decides to shut down completely.