Regular Or Irregular - What Does It Mean?
It's normal for your periods take time to settle down after puberty. But if they are still erratic a few years later, you may find that it affects your fertility. Sometimes doctors prescribe the pill for a short time to help kick start the body into a regular cycle.
To know whether your cycle is regular or irregular you need to keep track of your cycle in your diary, a special notebook or a chart. Day one of your cycle is the first day of your period, and the last day of the cycle is the last day before your period starts again.
Circle every day you bleed starting with day one, and mark any spotting in a different way. After 3 or 4 cycles you will have an idea of your pattern. Continue to make a note every month of when you have your periods. This will save time for you and your doctor. Keeping an accurate record of your cycle is usually one of the first things your doctor will ask you to do if you are having period or fertility problems.
If you are taking the pill, any period you have will actually be 'withdrawal bleeding' and not a 'real period'. This is because of how the pill works to prevent pregnancy. There are actually some pills which don't give you a withdrawal bleed every month, but only a few times a year. Check with your doctor as to which type you have been prescribed. When you come off the pill it can take your body up to a year to get back to 'normal'. If you don't want to get pregnant immediately use another form of contraception.
An average cycle is considered to be around 28 days long, with bleeding for about four or five days. However, a day or two either side of that is also normal. What is important is what is normal for you. If you have a period every (for example) 27 days or 31 days every month, then it is regular. You may find it easier to use the phase of the moon as a way of keeping track. For example many women find that they bleed in the dark of the moon and ovulate during the full moon. So why not see how your cycle fits in with the moon?
If your cycle varies a lot, one month for example being 24 days long and another month 32, and third 28 days long, and there is no pattern to this then you have an irregular cycle. Some women however find that one month they have a shorter cycle and the next month a longer one, and that it oscillates back and forth. Or it may vary over a three month cycle. Then you have a regular irregular cycle.
A short cycle of around 21 days is problematic as well as being annoying because it means that it can be much harder to get pregnant. However you should still use contraception if you don't want to get pregnant- after all you don't want to take a chance!
Some women have spotting regularly mid-cycle at the time of ovulation. This is usually nothing to worry about, but spotting can be a sign that there is something wrong. So it's always important to let your doctor know if you have spotting and how often it happens. Just show your doctor your period chart.