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Early Menstrual Cycles

An average menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days, and the range for a normal cycle is between 21 and 35 days, but not every woman's cycle falls into this range. Throughout their reproductive lives, many women will see changes and irregularities in their periods. Early menstrual cycles are not a problem by themselves, but they can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that needs to be treated.

What Is an Early Menstrual Period?

Early Menstrual Cycles

An early menstrual period is a menstrual cycle that happens before the average minimum of 21 days. You can keep a record of when your period ends and when the next one begins. Keep track of your periods for at least three months to get an accurate sense of your cycle length.

However, many women experience irregular bleeding or spotting in between periods. Irregular bleeding can be confused with an extra or early menstrual period. However, this spotting between periods is often caused by the birth control a woman is on or an underlying medical condition.

What Causes Early Menstrual Periods?

An imbalance of the levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle, can cause early periods and disrupt the body in other ways. If a woman is on birth control and does not take it as it is prescribed or forgets to take it, this may lead to irregular bleeding or spotting. Irregular bleeding is also normal when starting birth control for the first three months. However, if this continues, it is a good idea to see a doctor.

Early Menstrual Cycles

A healthy diet and exercise are also crucial in maintaining regular periods. It is important to exercise regularly and eat healthy so that your body can function properly.

When to See a Doctor

If you are over 40 and are experiencing bleeding in between periods, or you are postmenopausal and have gone 12 months without a period and are experiencing bleeding again, it is recommended that you see a doctor. Irregular bleeding in postmenopause may be a symptom of cervical and uterine cancer, so it is important to get screened for this.

Several underlying medical conditions can also cause irregular periods or early menstruation. These conditions include:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. This condition causes cysts to grow on the ovaries, which can cause irregular periods and bleeding, along with acne, irregular hair growth, and weight gain.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease. This is an infection that causes the pelvic area to become inflamed. It can cause irregular bleeding, along with fevers and abdominal pain.
  • Fibroids. Fibroids are growths on the uterus that cause periods to become heavier and can also cause bleeding between periods. Other symptoms can include lower back or abdominal pain, constipation, pain during sex, and urinating more often.

If you have the symptoms of one of these conditions, it is recommended to see a doctor for treatment. Click on the following link for more information on treating irregular periods.

Long Menstrual Cycles

Long menstrual cycles can be frustrating, and are commonly experienced by women going through menopause. Click here to learn more.

Prolonged and Continuous Periods

Many women experience prolonged menstrual bleeding. This can have different causes, such as too much progesterone in the body. Click here to learn more.

Missed Menstrual Cycles

If you are in your late 40's, your missed periods may be a result of menopause. Click on to learn more about irregular periods treatments.

Sources:
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2013). Menstrual cycle: What's normal, what's not. Retrieved November 4, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menstrual-cycle/art-20047186?pg=1
  • National Health Service UK. (2014). What causes bleeding between periods? Retrieved November 4, 2015, from http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/976.aspx?CategoryID=60