What are irregular periods?

The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, but your own cycle time can vary by several days. A cycle counts from the first day of your period to the start of the next.

Your periods are considered irregular if your menstrual cycle is less than 24 days or more than 38 days, or if your cycle varies from month to month by more than 20 days.

Some research suggests marriage may influence a woman’s menstrual cycle and increase some of the symptoms of menstruation, such as cramps and headaches.

Read on to learn more about the connection between irregular periods and menstruation.

Here are some possible causes of irregular periods after marriage.

1. Stress

Studies have shown emotional stress temporarily alters the hormones that regulate your period. Being newly married can be stressful as you adjust to a new life and responsibilities. Planning and having a wedding can also be stressful.

This stress may be enough to throw your cycle off. Your cycle should get back on track once your stress levels decrease.

2. Change in routine

Disruptions to your daily routine can impact your menstrual cycle. Getting married often involves many changes to your daily routine that can affect your periods. Moving to a different home, adjusting to a new schedule, and eating differently are just some of the changes that often accompany marriage.

3. Weight changes

Marriage may increase your risk for weight gain. Women are more likely to gain weight after marriage than men. There are several theories for why this is the case. Marital satisfaction and the lack of desire to find a new mate or changes in diet may be contributing factors.

Rapid or significant weight changes have been shown to cause irregular periods, according to scientific research. Body fat affects the amount of estrogen your body produces. Women with more fat will produce more estrogen than women with less fat. This increase in estrogen can cause irregular, missed, or heavy periods.

4. Birth control

Going on or off hormonal birth control can cause your periods to become irregular. Some types of birth control can also lead to occasionally missing a period or stopping your periods altogether.

Your body should adjust within three to six months after starting or stopping hormonal birth control. Your doctor may recommend changing birth control if you continue to have issues.

It’s possible to become pregnant if you miss a birth control pill or if you’ve recently stopped taking birth control. If you’ve missed a period and suspect pregnancy, use a home pregnancy test to see if you’re pregnant.

5. Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes missed periods. But in early pregnancy, it may also cause other irregularities, such as spotting and implantation bleeding, which resembles a very light period.

If you’ve had unprotected sex and are experiencing menstrual irregularities, it’s a good idea to take a home pregnancy test. Other early signs of pregnancy may include:

  • fatigue
  • sore breasts or nipples
  • nausea, which is often called morning sickness even though it can occur any time of day
  • bloating
  • mild cramps

There are several other causes of irregular periods that aren’t connected to marriage but can affect any woman. They include:

Having irregular periods could interfere with your ability to get pregnant. Irregular or missed periods could mean you’re not ovulating. This is a common cause of infertility. Some of the conditions that often cause menstrual irregularities, such as PCOS and fibroids, can also reduce fertility.

If a medical condition is preventing you from getting pregnant, your doctor will begin by treating your condition to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Treatment may include:

  • medication to help you ovulate, such as clomiphene citrate (Clomid), human menopausal gonadotropin (Pergonal, Repronex), or follicle-stimulating hormone (Gonal-F, Follistim)
  • glucophage (Metformin) to treat insulin resistance and PCOS
  • bromocriptine (Parlodel) to treat high levels of prolactin, which can stop ovulation
  • lifestyle changes if you’re under- or overweight

Conception tips for women with irregular periods

If you’re trying to get pregnant, tracking your ovulation can help you determine when you’re most fertile. To track your ovulation with irregular periods:

  • Track your periods for a few months.
  • Check your basal body temperature. It’s higher when you’re ovulating.
  • Pay attention to your cervical mucus. It increases and gets slipperier during ovulation.

Make an appointment to see your doctor if:

  • You miss more than three consecutive periods and aren’t pregnant.
  • Your periods suddenly become irregular after always having been regular.
  • Your periods are less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart.
  • Your period lasts longer than a week.
  • You soak through a pad or tampon every one or two hours for several consecutive hours.
  • Your period becomes extremely painful.
  • You have a fever or unusual discharge during your period.
  • You have spotting between periods.

There are a few measures you can take at home to help regulate your periods:

  • Establish a regular routine.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Manage and reduce your stress.
  • Take birth control as prescribed.

If these measures don’t help and your period continues to be irregular for a few cycles, you may require medical treatment.

The following are treatment options available if home remedies don’t help regulate your periods or if an underlying medical condition is causing your irregular periods:

  • hormone therapy, such as estrogen or progestin
  • metformin to treat PCOS and insulin resistance
  • thyroid medication
  • surgery to remove fibroids
  • changes to your hormonal birth control if it’s causing menstrual irregularity

Irregular periods related to the changes that accompany marriage can usually be resolved with some lifestyle changes. Speak to your doctor if your periods remain irregular or if other symptoms accompany them.