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Q&A: Should I Be Surprised If I Am Having Irregular Periods at 40?

If you are near the age of 40, it's possible that you are experiencing perimenopause symptoms. Irregular periods are one of the first signs indicating that a middle-aged woman is going through menopause, a natural transition in all women's lives. Read on to learn more about perimenopause, menopause, and irregular periods at 40.

Irregular periods are one of the first signs of menopause.

Why Am I Having Irregular Periods?

Most women begin perimenopause in their late forties or early fifties, but the menopausal transition is different for everybody. Some women go through it quickly with few or no symptoms at all, while others experience symptoms for years, even during postmenopause.

The fluctuating levels of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone disrupt the menstrual cycle. This can cause infrequent periods, too frequent periods, heavy or light blood flow, longer periods, and pain. During perimenopause, women's bodies experience hormonal imbalance, which can lead to many common symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, and irregular periods.

Will I Have Other Symptoms?

You should not be surprised if you experience irregular periods when you are 40, as they are common at this age. However, having irregular periods doesn't necessarily signify that you will experience any other menopause symptoms. Since not all women suffer from symptoms, it's possible to have irregular periods at 40, but not experience any other signs or symptoms of menopause. Talk with your doctor and take a blood test to figure out if you are menopausal or not.

Are There Other Causes of Irregular Periods?

The average age at which a woman hits menopause is 51. If you are between 40 and 50, then you are likely to go through this natural transition soon, and your irregular periods may be attributed to menopause. However, there are other possible reasons for irregularities with your menstrual cycle. These can include lifestyle habits or more serious conditions. Talk to your doctor to identify the cause of your irregular periods and to address any concerns. In addition, it is important to remember that women can become pregnant even if their periods are irregular, as long as they are still ovulating.

Listed below are some of the conditions that can trigger irregular periods:

Lifestyle triggers

  • Significant weight gain or loss
  • Over-exercising
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking
  • Increased stress
  • Hormonal contraception

Health conditions

  • Eating disorders
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • Anemia
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

More Information about Irregular Periods

At 40, the most likely scenario is that you are entering the menopausal transition, and irregular periods should not be a cause for concern, though they can be a nuisance. Click on the following link to find out more about treatments for irregular periods related to hormonal imbalance.

Can Anemia Cause Irregular Periods?

Delayed or missed periods can often forewarn a woman of issues in her body, all of which can be intricately linked to her physical and emotional well-being.

5 Keys to Keep a Regular Menstrual Cycle

Keep reading to find tips on how to keep a regular menstrual cycle.

Irregular Periods: Addressing Your Wardrobe

Dressing during your periods can be a challenge. Keep reading to discover some tips about dressing for irregular periods.

  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007
  • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.