What Can Cause A Change In My Monthly Cycle?

irregular periods
What Can Cause Changes In My Monthly Menstrual Cycle?

Minor changes in your menstrual cycle can occur at any age. This is because of the complex role that female hormones play in the process, and those hormones are highly sensitive to change. In fact it is rare for a woman not to experience some disruption to her cycle at some stage in her reproductive years. Stress, illness, travel and extreme dieting can cause heavy periods, irregular periods or even cause you to miss your period completely. In a healthy woman, those are the most likely causes for a change in a monthly cycle. Where the change is persistent (doesn't correct itself after a month or two), the most likely cause is pregnancy or menopause.

See:
What are the early signs of pregnancy before a missed period?
• What are the symptoms of menopause?

If both menopause and pregnancy are ruled out, other possible causes include:

1. Stopping the Pill: Some women find that it can take up to 18 months for their period to become regular after stopping the oral contraceptive pill.
2. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): This is a condition caused by a hormone imbalance. It can cause changes in your menstrual cycle as well ovarian cysts, infertility and skin problems like acne. For more, see PCOS symptoms.
3. Endometriosis: Is a painful condition that can cause irregular periods, infertility and severe pelvic pain. For more see, endometriosis symptoms.
4. Uterus Fibroids: These are non-cancerous tumors that grow inside or on the womb. They can range in size from a seed to a grapefruit and cause heavy periods and infertility. See, fibroids symptoms.
5. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): An infection of the womb, fallopian tubes or other parts of the reproductive area that causes severe pelvic pain. It is usually caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. Symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease can be mild enough so that you don't notice them, or they can be severe enough to cause serious pain, foul smelling vaginal discharge, heavy periods and fever.
6. Endometrial Cancer: Also called cancer of the womb, endometrial cancer affects 39,000 American women a year. It produces symptoms very early - typically it causes spotting or vaginal bleeding between periods. See symptoms of endometrial cancer.
7. Cervical Cancer: The cervix is the lower part of the womb, and cancer which starts here is known as cervical cancer. Typically it causes spotting between periods, you may also notice some blood while douching or after sexual intercourse. It is typically discovered during a routine Pap smear test. For more, see symptoms of cervical cancer.
8. Ovarian Cysts: Certain types of cysts can cause missed or irregular periods, see, can ovarian cysts cause a missed period?
9. Polyps: Uterine polyps and cervical polyps may cause longer or shorter menstrual cycles, as well as vaginal discharge and cramps.

When To See A Doctor About Your Period
Your periods suddenly stop for more than 3 months.
Your periods become very irregular after years of regular monthly cycles.
You get a period more than every 21 days or less than every 35 days.
You bleed for more than 7 days with a period.
You start spotting or bleeding regularly between periods. See also, what causes brown spotting?
You suddenly feel very sick after using tampons. This could be a sign of toxic shock syndrome.
You experience foul smelling discharges between periods, this could be a sign of vaginitis or an STD.

• Need more information about periods? See: Guide to Menstruation
• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions

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WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT QUESTIONS ON FEMALE HEALTH
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