Common Period Problems
Your top questions about irregular menstrual cycles answered
Irregular or Abnormal Cycles
My normal cycle length is from 27 days to 32 days. The past two months they have decreased seven to nine days each month from the last. How do I detect ovulation if my cycles are never the same, and now are only 19 days apart? Also, why are they happening more frequently?
Addressing this problem starts with determining whether you’re ovulating or not. You may not be ovulating at all, but instead experiencing dysfunctional bleeding. A progesterone test in the latter part of your cycle, even a short cycle, can tell whether you ovulated. If you’re not ovulating, then you might need hormonal manipulation each cycle to “jump start” a normal cycle. This is one thing that Clomid (an ovulation inducer) does. If you are ovulating, then perhaps the second half of your cycle is lackluster. This is called “inadequate corpus luteal phase,” and may need to be supplemented with progesterone, which your body normally makes in the second half of the cycle. With an inadequate corpus luteal phase, it is making too little for a healthy cycle (or pregnancy). (Read more in our article Irregular Menstrual Cycles and Fertility.)
I had two periods last month—one at the beginning and at the end. Does the second one count for the next month?
It is a misconception that the “monthly” menses follow the calendar months. Every woman cycles according to her own body’s clock. Women can have cycles that repeat anywhere from every 21 days to every 40 days or so. Also, the menstrual cycle is influenced by many other factors, including stress, exercise, diet, weight, and illness. So even though most women have a period at about the same interval from month to month, every woman is entitled to a fluky one every now and then. For women who have the timing of their periods “all over the map,” once major gynecological concerns have been addressed, the irregular cycles can be manipulated into a normal rhythm using birth control pills.
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