If you're someone who menstruates, getting your period can often feel like one more annoying task to scratch off your monthly checklist of chores. But unlike paying your rent or renewing your Netflix subscription, menstrual cycles aren't always so regular: they may start and stop, seem to go on forever, or even come twice a month. While most of us have experienced some degree of spotting, getting a full-blown period for the second time in one month can be somewhat concerning.
This type of inconsistency can be totally normal or it can be a sign of another underlying health condition, explains Dr Alyssa Dweck, a gynaecologist and the author of The Complete A to Z for Your V. For some people, getting two periods each month might be due to the length of their menstrual cycle. 'Normal' menstrual cycles occur every 21 to 35 days and periods can last two to seven days, she says. For people with shorter cycles, it's possible to bleed twice over the course of a 30-day month. "If this is a regular habit and meets the criteria of every 21 to 35 days, no problem," she says.
But if a period double-whammy is associated with other symptoms — such as pain, odour or discharge — it's a good idea to see your gynaecologist or GP to rule out more serious issues, Dr Dweck says. For example, hormonal imbalances such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can cause irregular periods and spotting, she says. Thyroid issues can also affect your hormones and throw off your cycle, she says. Or two periods in one month could be a sign that there are some structural issues within your reproductive system, like cysts and polyps. And sometimes, light spotty bleeding that looks pink to light brown can be a sign of implantation bleeding, which occurs when a fertilised egg implants in the uterus. (In which case, you may want to take a pregnancy test.)
You know your body best, so getting your period twice in a month might be your version of 'normal' or it could be alarming. To get better acquainted with your menstrual cycle, you might consider using a period-tracking app to keep track of the length as well as any associated symptoms. This information is also good to have on hand when you see a doctor so that you can give them an idea of what your 'normal' cycle is like. Luckily, there are solutions your doctor might recommend to get your period back on track, such as using hormonal birth control.
And while you might be irked that you have to get double the tampons, look on the bright side: at least you have two opportunities to have period sex.