What causes menstrual irregularities or abnormal bleeding and what should I do?

Symptom Database

Menstrual irregularities and abnormal bleeding can be a cause of concern for many women. The menstrual cycle is a natural process that occurs in women of reproductive age, and any deviations from the normal pattern can be indicative of underlying issues. In this article, we will explore the causes of menstrual irregularities and abnormal bleeding, as well as the available treatments.

Understanding Menstrual Irregularities

Menstrual irregularities refer to any changes in the regular pattern of a woman’s menstrual cycle. This can include irregular periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged menstrual bleeding, or any other abnormalities in the menstrual cycle. While occasional variations in the menstrual cycle are common, persistent irregularities may require medical attention.

Causes of Menstrual Irregularities

There are several factors that can contribute to menstrual irregularities and abnormal bleeding. Some of the common causes include:

  • Hormonal imbalances: Fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle.
  • Stress: High levels of stress can affect the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates the menstrual cycle.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can cause irregular periods and other menstrual abnormalities.
  • Thyroid disorders: An overactive or underactive thyroid gland can impact the menstrual cycle.
  • Uterine fibroids: These noncancerous growths in the uterus can lead to heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding.
  • Endometriosis: This condition occurs when the tissue lining the uterus grows outside of it, causing pain and irregular bleeding.

Treatment for Abnormal Bleeding

The treatment for abnormal bleeding depends on the underlying cause. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Some common treatment options include:

  • Hormonal therapy: This involves the use of hormonal medications, such as birth control pills, to regulate the menstrual cycle.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with menstrual irregularities.
  • Surgical interventions: In some cases, surgical procedures may be necessary to address underlying conditions like fibroids or endometriosis.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Making certain lifestyle changes, such as managing stress levels, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly, can help regulate the menstrual cycle.

Recognizing the Symptoms

It is important to be aware of the symptoms that may indicate menstrual irregularities or abnormal bleeding. Some common signs to watch out for include:

  • Irregular periods: Menstrual cycles that occur less than 21 days apart or more than 35 days apart.
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding: Excessive or prolonged bleeding that requires frequent changing of sanitary products.
  • Spotting or bleeding between periods: Any unexpected bleeding outside of the regular menstrual cycle.
  • Painful periods: Severe cramping or pelvic pain during menstruation.
  • Changes in menstrual flow: Sudden changes in the duration or intensity of menstrual bleeding.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.


Menstrual irregularities and abnormal bleeding can be caused by various factors, including hormonal imbalances, stress, and underlying medical conditions. It is crucial to pay attention to any changes in your menstrual cycle and seek medical advice if necessary. Remember, early detection and appropriate treatment can help manage and resolve these issues effectively. If you are experiencing any symptoms of menstrual irregularities or abnormal bleeding, do not hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional for guidance and support.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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