A normal monthly menstruation usually occurs on a 28 day cycle, yet not everyone receives a regular period every month. Many women are often surprised with an early period that can sometimes cause confusion.
Periods that arrive early or late may be due to hormonal imbalances, and should be checked out if this occurs on a regular basis.
While irregular periods are certainly inconvenient, they are fairly common among women and can be caused by a variety of circumstances that affect normal bodily cycles of menstruation and ovulation.
Early menstrual periods can be the result of anything from lifestyle choices to hormonal imbalances. They may also be the result of a gynecologic health issue that needs to be addressed.
Here are some of the main reasons for getting your period earlier than anticipated:
1. Hormonal Imbalance
A shift in the balance of hormones is often the culprit of early period cycles. Using oral contraceptive such as birth control pills can cause the menstruation cycle to begin at an earlier time than usual, especially if you skip a pill or two, since the hormones produced by the body become disrupted by the artificial hormones in the pill.
Birth control pills are supposed to be taken on a daily basis at the same time each day. This allows your hormones to stay in a steady state and allow your periods to come on a regular basis.
If you skip a few pills or take your doses at varying times throughout the day, then you may have irregular periods. You may also experience effects of abnormal bleeding after you stop taking the pill.
Other forms of contraceptives, such as IUDs, can also cause an imbalance of hormones that can affect your period and change your ovulation cycle.
IUDs come in hormonal and non-hormonal forms. If you decide on an IUD that does produce hormones, then you may initially have irregular periods until your body adjusts to the IUD.
Hormonal disorders, which can result from diseases such as endometriosis, can also be a reason for period cycle irregularity and should be checked out if you also experience painful periods, nausea or vomiting with your cycle, or painful bowel movements while on your period. These are all signs of endometriosis.
2. Psychological effects
Stress is a common factor in the case of irregular periods, and dealing with psychological anxieties can have an effect on the body’s processes.
Dealing with extra stress and anxiety can trigger physical responses and disrupt the normal body systems that regulate ovulation and menstruation.
As a result, cortisol, the stress hormone, can have an effect on the production of estrogen and progesterone in the body.
If you are feeling stressed out, then your body will produce more cortisol, which can disrupt your hormonal balance.
While stress and anxiety often cause late periods as well, it can disrupt the nervous system enough to cause your period to come earlier than expected.
With added stress, you may experience early or late periods, or a mixture of both if the stressor continues for months at a time.
3. Gynecologic conditions
Some gynecologic conditions can cause early menstruation, as well as bleeding in between periods that may turn into an early period.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition that affects the level of hormones present, which can lead to period irregularity.
Women who suffer from PCOS develop multiple cysts on their ovaries, which leads to hormonal disruption and menstrual irregularities.
Women with PCOS often have irregular ovulation cycles, which in turn leads to irregular periods.
4. Implantation bleeding
Sometimes, what you may think is your period coming early may not be your period at all. Many people mistake implantation bleeding for their period, and so the abnormal bleeding you are experiencing could be a sign of early pregnancy if you are sexually active.
Implantation bleeding happens when an embryo is implanted in the uterus, causing some abnormal bleeding before your actual period begins.
If you are trying to get pregnant, or have had unprotected sex, then this spotting could point to pregnancy and not be an actual period.
5. Lifestyle choices
Factors related to your life, including diet and exercise, can have a great effect on the regularity of your period.
Excessive and strenuous exercise can disrupt your body’s menstrual system and result in an earlier period, or cause you to lose your period all together.
What you eat also has an effect on whether your period comes early or late, and how bad it is. Excessive weight gain and loss cause fluctuating hormone levels that can result in an early period.
Excessive weight gain can cause hormone levels to rise since adipocytes, or fat cells, can contribute to estrogen excess. If you have gained excessive weight very quickly, then you may experience period irregularities.
6. Menopause and puberty
Going through menopause causes the hormone levels to fluctuate within the body, which can result in irregular period cycles that can start as early as 10 years before menopause actually begins.
Since menopause results in the ceasing of the ovulation cycle in a woman, as a woman approaches menopausal age, their period may become more sporadic.
On the other hand, adolescents experiencing the first few years of their period will often find that it takes a while for their menstrual cycle to regulate and mature, and so early periods are quite common during this time.
In order to better regulate your menstrual period, you can change up your lifestyle routine to get your cycle back on track.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding any dramatic weight changes can regulate your hormone levels and regulate your period.