Let’s talk about irregular periods and menstrual cycles.
We ideally want our menstrual cycles to come every 21 – 35 days.
If yours isn’t always 28 days and the number of days in your menstrual month (your menstrual month = the day your period starts all the way through to the day before your next period starts) varies each time, that’s totally normal.
A variation of up to 5-6 days each menstrual cycle is fine, so if one menstrual cycle is 25 days, the next is 28, then the next is 26, there’s nothing wrong with you.
Remember: your menstrual cycle (and period) is a vital sign from your body that gives you information about what’s going on with your health. Variations in cycle length could mean more stress, illness, changes in medication, the effects of jet lag or life changes such as starting a new job, a breakup or a bereavement. But what if your menstrual cycle is much longer than 35 days or shorter than 21 days?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Track your menstrual cycle for 4 – 6 months to understand what the variations in cycle length look like for you.
2. Look at what other symptoms you’re experiencing. What’s your body temperature like? Do you crave sugar? Do you have dark, coarse body hair on your face, chest and abdomen? Are you in your mid-40s?
3. Are your menstrual cycles really long or have your periods completely stopped (and you’re not post-menopausal, pregnant, breastfeeding or undergoing treatment that has triggered medical menopause)? Are you taking hormonal contraception?
4. Look at what’s going on in the rest of your life. Are you under a significant amount of stress? Have you rapidly lost or gained a significant amount of weight? Are you exercising excessively? Are you dealing with significant current or past unresolved trauma?
All of this information will help you understand what’s behind the irregular menstrual cycles you’re experiencing. It might be PCOS (and one of the 4 types), it might be a thyroid issue, it might be hypothalamic amenorrhea, it might be perimenopause or it could be another issue.
Is your period irregular? Tell me more in the comments.
Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones.
Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Boden, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.
Her first book You Can Have A Better Period was released in March 2022.