Irregular Periods for Teens - Cherokee Women's Health

Irregular Periods for Teens

young woman cramps

Irregular periods can be part of the normal changes that can happen as a teen, but what’s considered normal and what’s not normal?

A normal menstrual cycle typically occurs about every 25-31 days and lasts about 4-7 days. An irregular cycle can be described as one that occurs outside of this time frame, changes month to month, is much lighter or heavier than normal, or one that skips a few months.  However, a young girl’s body may not follow an exact schedule.


The average age a girl begins her period is 12 years and 9 months, though some may start as young as 10 or as late as 16. In the first 2 years after a girl starts getting her period, it’s very common to skip periods or to have irregular periods. As a young woman ages though, her cycle will probably settle into a more recognizable pattern.

What Causes Irregular Periods?

However, there are some conditions they can attribute to an irregular cycle. A few common causes are:

  • Hormone imbalance
  • Illness
  • Stress
  • Having a very low or very high body weight
  • Eating disorders
  • Medicines
  • Exercising too much

How to Know When Your Period is Coming

For someone who has an irregular cycle, relying on the calendar is not very helpful. There are often signs your body may give you that your period is coming soon. These may include:

  • Headaches
  • Sore breasts
  • Back stiffness
  • Bloating
  • Acne breakouts
  • Mood swings
  • Disturbed sleep patterns

How to Prepare for Your Period

To alleviate the stress of never really knowing when you can expect your period to start, it’s best to always be prepared. You can do this by making sure you always have pads or tampons available. There is even period underwear available.These garments can be helpful for girls who aren’t sure when their period will start.

When to See a Gynecologist

There are times when irregular periods can indicate a medical problem. It’s important to see a gynecologist if you experience such symptoms as:

  • Missed periods when you have been sexually active- this could indicate pregnancy.
  • Missed periods, even if you have not been sexually active.
  • Spotting between periods
  • Very heavy periods
  • Periods that were regular but now have changed
  • Periods with severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • Periods that last more than a week
  • Periods that occur more than every 21 days
  • Periods that occur less than every 45 days
  • Severe cramping or abdominal pain

The physician may run blood tests to check hormone levels and may also do a pelvic ultrasound to look for any physical problems. There may be other health problems or medicines that can be contributing to the irregular cycles as well. If a condition is discovered the gynecologist will then discuss any necessary action which could include hormone treatment, other medicine or lifestyle changes, among other things.

As a young teen or preteen, irregular periods are normal. If a girl is otherwise free of health problems, there’s no cause for concern. Learning to pay attention to your body can help determine if your cycles are normal and when or if medical intervention is needed.

Our GYNs are Here For You

If you (or your daughter) have any questions or concerns about what’s normal and what’s not, don’t hesitate to see your GYN. Call us today at 770.720.7733 or schedule an appointment online.

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