Irregular Menstrual Periods – What’s Normal?

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Irregular periods are often the first sign that you are approaching menopause. Most of us will experience irregular periods for three to ten years before periods stop completely. When periods stop completely, that is called menopause.


What causes irregular menstrual periods?

These changes are caused by erratic production of hormones by the ovaries and less frequent ovulation (release of an egg). Initially, menstrual cycle changes can be subtle. Sometimes the cycle will get shorter than the usual 28 days. Maybe it will get longer. Bleeding may last fewer days or more days, and blood flow may be heavier, lighter, or just spotting. Late in perimenopause, it is common to skip periods. Then you might experience a normal period. Although any menstrual pattern is possible, each of you will know that, for you, a change has occurred.

Paying attention to the changes you are experiencing is very important. It is that time in your life where you need to really prioritize yourself and your health.


When should I be concerned about irregular menstrual periods?

While irregular periods may become your new normal during perimenopause, you should consult your healthcare provider if any of the following signs of abnormal bleeding patterns occur:

  • Periods that are extremely heavy, especially if they have not been that way in the past.
  • Periods lasting more than 7 days or 2 or more days longer than usual.
  • Frequent periods, with intervals shorter than 21 days from the start of one period to the start of the next.
  • Spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods.
  • Bleeding from the vagina after intercourse.
  • Any bleeding after menopause.

The North American Menopause Society publishes menstrual calendars in English, Spanish and French which can be a useful tool in visually recording and explaining the changes you are experiencing.

Tara Allmen, MD Credentials:
– Board Certified Gynecologist and Nationally Certified Menopause Practitioner
– New York City’s Leading Expert In Menopause
– President, North American Menopause Society Foundation
– Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
– New York City’s Top Gynecologist, 2015
– Five Star Rating From Doctor’s Choice Awards
– Five Star Rating From HealthGrades

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