As it turns out, getting your period twice in one month isn’t all that abnormal.
Your period doesn't get weird slang names—“on the rag,” “shark week,” and “code red,” to name a few—for nothing. To be frank, those two to seven days every month are annoying at best and agonizing at worst.
So getting two periods in one month seems entirely cruel. What is my body doing?! you shout to no one in particular.
As it turns out, getting your period twice in one month isn’t all that abnormal. But if you're part of that (pretty unlucky) group, know this: irregular bleeding can have different implications depending on age, medical history, and family history, according to gynecologists.
Keep reading to learn what may be among the reasons for bleeding twice a month and what you can do about it.
Check your menstrual history
First things first, we have to ask: Are you pregnant?
If you are sexually active, this is one of the initial things to think about. Some women do get irregular bleeding when pregnant, doctors report. And if you were trying for a baby, rest assured that the irregular bleeding can be totally normal and not indicative that there’s something wrong. Take a pregnancy test and, if positive, call your ob-gyn; they’ll let you know when they want you to come in for an appointment.
Now that that’s out of the way, you should also know that, well, nothing may be going on. Just because you have two periods that happen to land within the same calendar month doesn’t mean there is a problem. That’s because a normal menstrual cycle is between 24 and 38 days, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). If your period came at the very beginning of this month and then showed up again in the end, this falls within a typical window.
Consider your age, too: Is it possible you’re going through perimenopause, a time when periods are known to do some pretty wacky things?
This is the decade or so before you go through the transition to menopause; consider it a possible cause if you’re over 40 years old. Perimenopause is a time when your hormones can be all over the place, ovulation can be sporadic, and you can get your period twice in a month, experts assure.
It may be the hormones
Uterine issues like polyps or fibroids—benign lesions or tumors that can grow in the uterus—are very common and may be related to hormonal issues.
Uterine polyps can cause bleeding in between periods, especially if they are touched, like during sex. Fibroids can cause pain, back pain, abdominal bloating, anemia, pain with intercourse, and spontaneous bleeding because they’re not associated with the menstrual cycle, doctors explain.
In speaking about hormones, an underactive or overactive thyroid gland can cause your period to come twice in one month. The thyroid gland is regulated by hormones produced and regulated in the same area of the brain—the pituitary and hypothalamus—as the hormones that control menstruation and ovulation. When one is off, the other might be affected.
One more reason related to hormones may be polycystic ovarian syndrome – a hormone imbalance that affects between 8 and 20 % of women, according to the National Institutes of Health. It’s a result of less frequent ovulation or the lack of ovulation, leading to an imbalance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, according to gynecologists. One of the many symptoms includes irregular bleeding.
An interruption of other health cycles
Interfering with your circadian rhythms, like changing time zones or working night shifts, can cause changes in the hormones that trigger your cycle, experts note.
If you get back from vacation and find an earlier-than-expected period welcoming you home, you might be able to blame said vacation on your irregular bleeding.
Depending on how far from home you went, excessive traveling can disrupt your period.
Also, high levels of stress can cause either more frequent periods or completely missed ones, because the hormones that trigger your ovaries to ovulate every month originate in the brain (you know, the same place where stress starts).
Basically, when you’re swamped at work or worrying a lot (especially if it’s causing you to get less sleep), those hormones can misfire and affect your cycle in negative ways.
What you can do
If you have two periods a month over the course of 2 to 3 months, you should see a doctor.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the average woman has her period for nearly 40 years.
While changes to the menstrual cycle are more common during puberty and in the years leading to menopause, they are not as common in a person's 20s and 30s.
If a person frequently has two periods in one month, this may indicate an underlying medical condition that could benefit from treatment.
A checkup can help determine if you need any medication or treatment — such as iron supplements to prevent anemia, or antibiotics for an infection. Best of all, getting checked out can put your mind at ease and give you a chance to learn more about your body.