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What Are the Common Causes of Abnormal Menstruation?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Feb 16, 2024
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There are a number of things that can cause abnormal menstruation such as a particularly heavy period or a skipped period. It may sound like an exaggeration, but virtually any type of significant lifestyle change can cause abnormal menstruation, because the hormones are so closely tied to stress in the body. A significant amount of weight loss or weight gain is also one of the most common causes of menstrual changes; in addition, medication changes, illnesses, or even travel can have an impact. Of course, a missed period can also indicate pregnancy, so it is important to keep this in mind as well.

Most of the things that cause abnormal menstruation are not cause for concern. Some larger issues, such as fibroids or other issues with the pelvic organs, can cause this problem, however, and are things that should be checked out by a doctor. Keeping track of the cycles, and seeing how they change from month to month, can help to indicate whether or not it is necessary to see a doctor. Particularly painful menstrual cycles can also indicate the need to visit a doctor.

Pregnancy is certainly something that can cause abnormal menstruation, though breastfeeding can as well. Some women do not begin menstruating again until they are finished breastfeeding, though this is not true in every case. Other hormonal changes not related to pregnancy can cause menstrual changes as well, and birth control pills are one of the leading causes. If the period does not regulate after a few months on the pill, it is a good idea to ask the doctor to change the prescription.

Lifestyle changes can also cause abnormal menstruation. Changes to the weight, whether it is weight gain or weight loss, can cause irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Women with eating disorders may find that the menstrual cycle ceases completely; excessive, unhealthy amounts of exercise can also cause this to occur.

Even simple changes to the routine may lead to menstrual irregularities. Travel is one of the most frequent causes. Illnesses, surgery, or certain medications can also cause changes. Stress causes not only menstrual abnormalities, but a large number of other problems in the body; it even increases the risk for heart disease and cancer. These are the most common causes of menstrual abnormalities, but it is by no means an exhaustive list, so it is a good idea to note any recent lifestyle changes, or changes in health, if the menstrual cycle appears to change.

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Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On Sep 18, 2014

Medications can cause abnormal menstruation as well. Birth control pill stop menstruation completely or for a specific period of time. But there are also other hormonal treatments out there that affect periods.

For example, the morning after pill, also called plan B, is one such drug. It prevents pregnancy by causing menstruation. So even if a woman has just had her period, taking the pill will cause menstruation again. It can take some time afterward for the cycles to be regulated again. Fertility treatments are another group of drugs that cause changes in menstruation.

Thyroid medications may affect menstruation too.

By fBoyle — On Sep 17, 2014

@discographer-- Have you seen a doctor about it?

It's true that stress plays a huge factor in menstruation. Even something as simple as seasonal changes can affect it. That's something that occurs to me. But if you're having so many different problems, you should definitely have a check up to make sure that everything is okay otherwise.

By discographer — On Sep 17, 2014

I don't know if all women are like this but I'm very sensitive to stress. Any stressful event in my life will mess up my menstrual cycle. I've experienced skipped periods, late periods, short periods, long periods, severe cramps and pain, heavy bleeding, basically the works when it comes to abnormal menstruation. As soon as stress levels reduce, my cycles return to normal.

It's almost as if the stress only takes a toll on my reproductive system. Sometimes, I don't even realize how much stress I'm in until my periods start changing.

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