As if your monthly visitor didn't already come with enough frustrating baggage, there is also timing to consider. A late, early, or all over the place period can be seriously distressing. The good news is irregular periods aren't usually a cause for concern unless they happen at least three months in a row, and even then, there are ways to help get your body back on track. So, what could be going on?
Fair warning: "It's a pretty lengthy list," explains Raquel B. Dardik, MD, of NYU Langone Medical Center, so to narrow it down, the first thing to look at is your age. Our periods are naturally a little less regular both when we're just starting to menstruate and when we're heading into menopause. "As hormones become less regulated, irregular periods are very common," says Dr. Dardik.
Now, if you're in between those two transition stages, there are a few things that can disrupt your normal hormonal cycle. Sometimes these hiccups just happen, but your body gets back on track on its own within a cycle or two. If it keeps happening, though, there could be "something structural in the uterus, or an issue with the hormones that are affecting the uterus," says Dr. Dardik.
Keep reading for a rundown of some of the most common issues, and what to do about each one.