Menstrual irregularities are changes to the menstrual cycle that result in missed periods, irregular periods, or excessive bleeding. NICHD is one of many federal agencies and NIH Institutes working to understand menstrual problems. NICHD supports and conducts research on what causes menstrual irregularities and how best to treat and detect them.
Menstruation is one part of the menstrual cycle, in which female hormones prepare the uterus to support a pregnancy.
The primary sign of menstruation is bleeding from the vagina. Additional signs include cramping, lower back pain, bloating, sore breasts, food cravings, irritability, headache, and fatigue.
Menstrual irregularities can include absent, infrequent, heavy, prolonged, or painful periods. These irregularities can occur for a variety of reasons.
Menstrual irregularities occur in 14% to 25% of women of childbearing age.
Menstrual irregularities can be caused by a variety of conditions, including pregnancy, hormonal imbalances, infections, diseases, trauma, and certain medications.
Health care providers often use medical history, physical examination, blood tests, ultrasound examination, and other medical tests to diagnose menstrual irregularities.
Treatments vary depending on the type of menstrual irregularity and its cause. They may include lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery.
Find answers to other common questions about menstruation, such as how to track your menstrual cycle and when to see a health care provider about menstrual problems.