My Cycle is So Different


I’m 25 years old and have been getting my period since the age of 10 1/2.
From the day I got it, I pretty much had a cycle like clockwork, every 28-32 days except the occasional (maybe twice) that I missed it or the one time I got it at 18 days as a result of a car accident.

Along with getting it each month like clockwork, I also have regular PMS like tender breasts a week before, mood swings, increased appetite that stops the second I get my period and when I finally get my period I have severe cramps for the first two days.

Since April of this year (six months ago) my cycle is really messed up. At first it drove me crazy because I always know PMS won’t last more than a week, once I get my period, all the syptoms go away, but here I was PMSing for about two weeks before I got my period. Then the next month, I started PMS at about 30 days and got my period a week later. Each month another story.

Right now, I have not had PMS for this month yet (not that I’m looking forward to it), but like I said, it used to be clockwork for me and I just like to know that I have it and can get over it until next month. The last time I had my period was around August 26.

I should also mention that I am a virgin and know therefore I’m not likely to be pregnant…Is this something I should be concered about or just normal life changes?



Dear Claire,

Knowledge of our bodies can be very empowering, and it’s clear that you have benefitted from that knowledge over the years. Sometimes the cycles change as a reflection of something going on in our lives – different stressors – either good or bad can change the length of our cycle. Sometimes we can have stress build up so slowly that we don’t even realize it, but our cycles can start reflecting the life changes. Often the changes are towards a decrease in fertility as our body is trying to time any possible pregnancy to the safest point. Common stressors could be moving, new job or school, new relationships or even new exercise regimens. Sometimes, though, the cycle changes can reflect early health changes, such as weight gain, thyroid abnormalities, etc.

Since you are already in tune with your body, you may want to take it a step further. The knowledge imparted by the Natural Family Planning courses aren’t just for those seeking to avoid or achieve pregnancy. The observations and charting can give all kinds of clues to a woman’s health. The PMS is a great marker that menses is coming, but the really troublesome symptoms can be tied to a low progesterone during that time. Learning to chart, and then discussing the findings with a physician trained in NFP can help identify any disorders that might need treatment. The PMS typically responds very well to therapy timed to your cycle. And don’t worry, with NFP you will have the assurance of knowing exactly where you are in your cycle even after the PMS is treated!

I hope you embark on the adventure of NFP – the wisdom you gain will help guide you through all of the stages of the reproductive years, including the times of the most irregularity like with breastfeeding or menopause.

Best wishes,

Lynn Keenan, MD

Answered By:

Lynn Keenan, MD
Lynn Keenan, MD, Immediate Past President of the CANFP Executive Board, is a Clinical Professor at the UCSF/Fresno Internal Medicine Residency Program (now retired), Board Certified in Sleep and Internal Medicine, and Vice President of the International Institute for Restorative Reproductive Medicine. She earned her BSN at UCLA, her MD at Temple University School of Medicine, and completed her Residency in Internal Medicine at UCSF/Fresno. Dr. Keenan served on the Executive Board of CANFP since 2004, as President of CANFP since 2010, and graciously agreed to continue her service to CANFP on the Advisory Board at the beginning of 2019, upon her retirement from the Executive Board of CANFP

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