What are Common Causes of Heavy or Irregular Periods?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2018
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There are several factors that can lead to heavy or irregular periods, including hormonal imbalances, stress and anxiety, and poor eating habits, which result in a nutritional deficiency. Another aspect that can lead to disturbances of heavy or irregular periods are polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and even inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The usage of birth control pills can cause heavy or irregular periods, and perimenopause can produce similar symptoms as well.

It is common for women who participate in strenuous activities and sports to experience heavy or irregular periods. Over-exercising can disrupt the body's hormonal levels of estrogen and progesterone, resulting in skipped periods or even a heavier than normal menstrual flow. This is a common factor for many professional athletes who experience irregularities in their menstrual cycle.

Fibroids and cysts can be a common factor in heavy or irregular periods as well. Benign fibroid tumors are often associated with irregular periods and menstruation, however most of the time this disorder causes no other noticeable symptoms. A physician can diagnose fibroids during a routine gynecological examination. If the doctor feels a protrusion in the pelvic area, he may recommend an ultrasound to determine if a cyst or fibroid is present. There are various treatment options, although if the fibroids grow back, a hysterectomy may be recommended.


Many women under excessive stress experience heavy or irregular periods due to a release of a particular hormone. Stress and tension releases a hormone known as cortisol, which is released by the adrenal gland. This is a steroidal hormone that has a negative impact on estrogen levels.

Improper eating or intense dieting also releases cortisol in the body. The body may perceive this as starvation and in an attempt to reserve resources, ovulation may be slowed down. If malnutrition is present, ovulation may be stopped completely. To restore a proper hormonal level, nutritional supplements along with an improved diet regime will typically be recommended.

Most women who are in their late 40s to early 50s will typically experience pre-menopausal symptoms, a stage also known as perimenopause. It is common for women at this age to experience heavy or irregular periods before entering menopause. During perimenopause a woman may go two or three months without a menstrual period. At other times, she may experience heavier bleeding than usual. After a year has elapsed without the presence of a menstrual period, she is considered to have entered menopause.



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