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Should my irregular periods be anything to worry about?

(11 Posts)
DackJaniels Sun 07-Oct-12 23:48:48

I am a 20 year old (obviously female lol). I had my very first period just after I had turned 13, and I have never really had a regular period since. Up until I was about 16(ish) whenever I got one they were fairly heavy and lasted about a week, but for the past couple of years they have lasted 3 days maximum and are very very light. I get maybe 5-6 a year, the least being 3 in one year (2009). Whilst many women dread "that time of the month", whenever mine arrives it actually gives me a slight feeling of relief.

I have read up about PCOS and I'm petrified it's that because the thought of not being able to have children in the future worries me (I know it is possible to conceive with PCOS but allegedly very tricky). The other main symptoms being weight gain (I am certainly not fat but I am not a scrawny little thing either), acne (I have never ever had acne as such, but I often get a few white heads and a couple of blind spots here and there) and excess hair (I embarrassingly admit I do have very hairy legs & arms, (I have done since a young todddler), even hairy feet and toes and also get a lot 'down there' but I do not have hair on my face/neck/back).

Would you think this is PCOS? Have any of you MNers had cycles this irregular for so long? Am I just being paranoid? blush

Apologies if the post is long/TMI!

notcitrus Mon 08-Oct-12 03:22:51

It's quite possibly PCOS, and may mean it's more difficult to conceive, but bear in mind 1 in 5 women don't have regular periods so it's hardly unusual. Many women with PCOS conceive just fine, others with a bit of help like drugs to kickstart periods and/or ovulation.

Maybe ask for a gynae referal and blood tests to see if you are ovulating or not, but 3-6 periods a year isn't very irregular and my non-medical guess is you are just lucky! I had 'mild' PCOS with only one a year or so.

MsNg Mon 08-Oct-12 03:30:26

I have PCOS and have exactly the same history as you - diagnosed at 19 just because of irregular periods. It can be a nuisance but it doesn't always cause infertility and it's very common but you tend to only hear from those who've had a rough time with it. I was told I'd need medical help to conceive but found myself pregnant by accident at 22 despite using contraception so don't, whatever you do, bank on infertility. It took me a few months to conceive at 31 but some Metformin from the GP did the trick.

The useful part of knowing I have PCOS and why it's worth getting diagnosed has been in keeping an eye on my weight, blood pressure and fitness so it's information I've used to improve my health. I have friends who've got PCOS, had children without big problems but struggled with obesity who are developing diabetes in their 30s, so my perspective is that the risk of developing chronic health issues is more of a big deal. The only negative for me has been all the hair removal as that got worse as I got older. I quite like that I can put on muscle really easily and I'm used to needing loads of exercise to keep my weight down so I make it things I enjoy.

tabbycat15 Mon 08-Oct-12 03:33:24

I would see a Dr for some blood tests to check your hormone levels. It would be best to check things out if you are worried.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 08-Oct-12 08:28:09


It could well be PCOS; around one in every 5 women have polycystic ovaries or its syndrome.

I have PCOS and am a parent now; treatments have moved on somewhat in the last few years and more women with this condition can be helped. PCOS is a very individualistic disorder and does affect each woman with it very differently.

5-6 periods a year would be seen as irregular (a "normal" cycle is a cycle length of between 21 and 35 days OR with less than 4 days of variation from month to month). Your menstrual history does sound very similar to mine, my periods were also very light as well (not much lining due to PCOS) and only lasted a couple of days. All down to PCOS as well.

You can have blood tests done to see what your hormone levels are like and the hospital could arrange for you to have an internal ultrasound scan done on your ovaries. If you have blood tests done you can have them done according to calendar days so to begin with you would need a day 2 test (this would check and compare your LH level against that of your FSH level. With PCOS LH is elevated compared to FSH). is a helpful website.

Good luck, you will need to be persistant in order to get answers.

lollystix Mon 08-Oct-12 10:08:18

I don't think I have PCOS (never been tested) but had around 8 periods a year - often with 50 day cycles and they were very light like yours (although heavy when I started metruating aged 14). I thought it would take forever to get pregnant as a result and had convinced myself tyhat I was infertile and would be trying for at least 2 years before probably fertility help.

So I started a couple of years younger than perhaps I would have liked on the advice of my GP friend. I fell on month 1 of trying with DS1, month 2 with DS2, month 1 with DS3 and with DS4 I was breastfeeding and didn't even have a period. Infact he is almost 1 and I've only just had my first period in 3.5 years.

I think the previous posters make good points about getting some tests done but don't be too disheartened yet. Also my friend has PCOS. It took her 8 months trying for both her daughters.

DackJaniels Thu 11-Oct-12 03:23:31

Would just like to say thank you to all who replied. Your replies have certainly helped me relax a bit more. Will get myself to the docs to have a test as soon as I can. Thanks again smile

CrikeyOHare Thu 11-Oct-12 08:34:12

Agree that you should see the doctor if you're worried - but nothing that you're saying is ringing alarm bells.

The hairiness is only significant if it's on a non-female place - your face or chest, for example. And most people have some acne.

My periods were incredibly irregular from the time I started them at 11, right up until I had a baby at 27. This seemed to kick start something hormonally and they've been 28 days on the dot ever since.

And PCOS is not necessarily a problem for everyone. I only know that my ovaries are covered in cysts because they've been seen (during an abdominal operation years ago) - but I've never had any symptoms & didn't have a problem getting pregnant.

But yes, see the doctor. But there's no cause for alarm at present, I don't think.

TenthMuse Wed 24-Oct-12 15:18:32

Just to say that I'm in a similar position - went to doctor today as it happens, and have been referred for blood tests and an ultrasound to check for hormone levels and signs of PCOS. Mine's slightly different, though, as I'd had fairly regular periods until a couple of years ago, and since then they've gone a bit haywire - I do bleed every month, but it's very light and only lasts a couple of days. Cycle is anywhere from 21 to 29 days - annoying, but not as irregular as some by the looks of things!

Talking to a doctor can really help, so I'd definitely advise booking an appointment. And I'd try to avoid Googling, but the NHS Choices/BUPA websites have been quite useful for info.

MrsHoolie Thu 25-Oct-12 23:31:37

I have had irregular periods all my life (I'm 35 btw).
I assumed I would be infertile but in fact I have been pregnant 3 times at the drop of a hat,the first time using withdrawal method,so I would never recommend that as contraception.
Having said that obviously you may have hormone issues or pcos.
I just wanted to reassure you that an irregular cycle necessarily mean low fertility.

tb Sun 28-Oct-12 13:38:40

For those posters who have pcos, the fact that you have 1 auto-immune disorder increases the risk of another. So, as well as the poster who knows people with pcos who are now diabetic as well, there is also the risk of being hypothyroid, too.

Just something to keep an eye on.

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