Pregnancy is obviously the biggest reason a woman of childbearing age would notice a change in her cycle, Dr. Carter says.
“A lot of people don’t realize they can have light spotting in the early stages of pregnancy,” she says.
A variety of other things can also cause a woman’s monthly cycle to be off, including:
- Strenuous exercise
- Medications, including steroids
- Some types of oral birth control
- Excessive dieting
- Benign lesions
In addition, other causes can include thyroid problems, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, eating disorders and diabetes.
When irregular periods are accompanied by other symptoms such as pain during or apart from menses, pressure or problems during sexual intercourse, a woman should consult her physician, Dr. Carter says.
“If at any point the irregular periods are bothersome to the patient or come with additional symptoms, it’s a good time to mention it to a doctor,” she says.