Treating irregular periods 

Treatment for irregular periods isn't always necessary.

For example, hormone changes are common during puberty and can cause changes to the normal menstrual cycle. Treatment during this time isn’t usually needed.

However, you should see your GP if you have any of the following changes in your periods:

  • you have bleeding or spotting between periods or after sex
  • you have very heavy periods, where you need to change your tampon or pad every hour or two, or you have to wear both a pad and a tampon
  • you experience heavy bleeding that floods into your bed or through your clothes
  • your periods last longer than seven days
  • your periods are more frequent than once a month

Your GP will ask about your periods, lifestyle and medical history to find the underlying reason for your irregular cycle. Any necessary treatment will depend on the reason for your irregular periods.

Changing your method of contraception

If you've recently been fitted with an intrauterine device (IUD) and are experiencing irregular bleeding that doesn't settle within a few months, discuss changing to another method of contraception with your GP or practice nurse.

If you have started taking a new contraceptive pill that's causing irregular bleeding, you may be advised to change to another type of pill.

Alternatively, an intrauterine system (IUS) such as Mirena may be recommended. This is a soft, flexible plastic device that's inserted into your womb and releases a small amount of a hormone called progestogen.

Mirena is a very effective method of contraception (over 99%). You can use it for up to five years and it can be removed at any time. After it's removed, your fertility will return to normal and you can try to become pregnant straight away.

As well as being an effective method of contraception, Mirena can be used to treat heavy, irregular periods. Your periods will become lighter, shorter and, in some cases, less painful.

The Family Planning Association (FPA) website has more information about IUS and Mirena.

Treating polycystic ovary syndrome

For overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the symptoms can be improved by losing weight, which will also help with irregular periods.

By losing weight, your body doesn't need to produce as much insulin, which reduces testosterone levels and improves your chance of ovulation (releasing an egg each month).

Other treatments for PCOS include hormone treatment and diabetes medication. Read more about treating PCOS.

Treating thyroid disorders

Treatment for thyroid disorders aims to return the level of thyroid hormones in your blood to normal.

You may need to take medication to stop your thyroid gland producing too many hormones, or too few.

Read more about treating an overactive thyroid and treating an underactive thyroid.

Your menstrual cycle should return to normal after treatment. See your GP if it doesn't.

Counselling and stress management

Stress or sudden weight loss may be diagnosed as a cause of irregular periods. Relaxation techniques, stress management or counselling (talking to a therapist) may be recommended.


Trying for a baby

If you're having problems conceiving a baby because of an unpredictable menstrual cycle, treatment with synthetic (man-made) hormones may help you achieve regular ovulation (monthly release of an egg). Discuss this with your GP.

Page last reviewed: 26/04/2015

Next review due: 26/04/2017