Healthy New Jersey

Periods (menstruation)

Irregular periods (oligomenorrhea)

Irregular periods aren't always a sign of a problem, but speak with a health care provider about your condition. 

What are irregular periods?

If the length of your cycle keeps changing, you may have an irregular period.

What causes irregular periods?

There are many potential causes of irregular periods. 

Common causes include:


During the first year or two of getting your period, it may be irregular.


When you start menopause (usually between the ages of 45 and 55), your period may become irregular.


Your period may be irregular because you are pregnant. Take a pregnancy test to rule this out.

Hormonal contraception

Some types of contraception, like birth control and intrauterine devices (IUDs), contain hormones that could make your period irregular.

Fluctuation of weight

Extreme weight loss or gain can affect your period.

Excessive exercise

Engaging in intense or prolonged physical activity can disrupt your hormonal balance and affect your period.

Excessive stress

Mental and emotional stress release hormones like cortisol, which can interfere with the normal function of reproductive hormones. 

Medical conditions

Conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or a problem with your thyroid could cause issues with your period.

When to see a health care provider

Seek a health care provider if:

  • Periods suddenly become irregular and you're under the age of 45
  • Periods occur less than every 21 days or more than every 35 days
  • Last longer than seven days
  • There's a significant difference of at least 20 days between your shortest and longest menstrual cycle
  • You have irregular periods and are having difficulties getting pregnant

While there might not be a problem, it's beneficial to get checked by a health care provider to determine the cause of your irregular periods. A referral to a specialist or gynecologist could be required for further tests or treatment.

Trying to get pregnant

Getting pregnant could be more difficult with irregular periods because you might not ovulate regularly.

Read more about periods and pregnancy.

Hormone medications or fertility treatments may be required if you're struggling to get pregnant.

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