Before your monthly periods stop altogether, you may find that they become irregular. This can happen if you’re going through menopause as a natural part of aging, or as a result of breast cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or ovarian shutdown. “Irregular periods” can mean a number of different things:
- Skipping periods from time to time
- Having periods more often or less often than you used to (a 28-day cycle is average, but this can vary from person to person)
- Bleeding that lasts fewer days or more days
- Blood flow that is lighter or heavier than usual
- Spotting instead of a regular period
These changes result from what’s happening with your ovaries: their production of hormones is changing and they’re not releasing eggs as frequently.
Changes in your menstrual periods usually don’t require any treatment. However, it’s a good idea to track any changes in your cycle and report them to your doctor. If anything seems very unusual for you, he or she may want to investigate further. Irregular bleeding can sometimes result from an underlying problem in the uterus, including growths such as polyps or fibroids, or precancerous or cancerous changes in the lining of the uterus. If you’ve gone a full year without any periods and suddenly experience bleeding again, see your doctor right away to rule out a serious cause, such as uterine cancer.