Your period starts too early or late: what causes cycle irregularities?

Cycle fluctuations are normal to a certain extent. Although the assumption that a “normal” cycle is 28 days may stubbornly persist, very few women have cycles that are always the same and with a “normal length”. It is important to know that cycle fluctuations occur almost always in the first half of the cycle, so before ovulation. The second half of the cycle has an almost fixed duration.

When is a cycle irregular?

When physicians talk of a cycle fluctuation, they mean when the cycle is shorter than 23 days or longer than 35 days. If your cycle fluctuates by more than eight days on a regular basis, a visit to your doctor is advisable. If the fluctuations occur within these limits, it is completely normal. The length of the cycle depends on the time of ovulation. Once this has occurred, the time until your next period is mostly the same – around 16 days.

What do the fluctuations mean in terms of ovulation?

For example, if your period starts after fewer than 20 days, this means that ovulation took place very early on – between the eighth and tenth day. If it takes a really long time for menstruation to begin, then ovulation either occurred a few days later, or maybe didn’t happen at all. You may still get your period even without ovulating (anovulation) – read our article about the various types of bleeding. Anovulation usually happens due to a lack of progesterone.

What causes the fluctuations?

There can be different reasons for the shift in ovulation or for anovulation. In most cases, a hormonal imbalance plays a decisive role. Other important factors might include:

  • Stopping the pill

  • Stressful life phases

  • Diets

  • Miscarriages

  • Thyroid diseases

  • Being severely underweight or overweight

  • Chronic inflammation

  • PCOS

  • Psychological factors

  • Strenuous exercise

How can you prevent cycle fluctuations?

If the cause of the fluctuation is psychological stress, any type of relaxation, such as yoga, helps. A balanced diet and specific food supplements can help the body to stabilize the cycle. More and more studies are pointing toward the positive effects that following a low-carbohydrate diet or even ketogenic diet can have on hormonal imbalance. Food supplements help as well; wild yam, for example, has a balancing effect. As wild yam products, such as “Yams+” by Ovy, contain diosgenin, they stimulate the production of progesterone, which helps with hormonal balance.