Hi all,

I am 20 years old and started my period at age 12. However, I am still not "regular." What I mean is, the time between my periods is absolutely unpredictable. I've always tracked my periods, so to give you a glimpse into the "irregularity," here is a list of the number of days between my periods, starting with the time between February and March of 2012:

29, 34, 32, 30, 33, 28, 37, 40, 64, 40, 32, 36, 28, 30, 37, 37, 30, 31, 26, 50, 30, 38, 30, 30, 31, 35

As you can see, there really is no predictability as to when my period will start. I have noticed that stress tends to make my period start sooner. But I cannot find an underlying cause for the periods that are 40-64 days appart.

In addition, I always experience painful cramping. I would say that every other period I take a day or two to stay home because I'm in too much pain to drive or to focus at work. My cramps radiate into my legs and cause back pain. Sometimes I get lightheaded and nauseous as well. I've started to notice that the days when I am cramping like this, I am bleeding heavily and will pass blood clots and small pieces of tissue (maybe 1/2" in length). I've read that taking ibuprofen for a day or two before your period starts will help thin your blood so that you don't pass blood clots, but obviously that isn't a solution for me because I don't know when my period will start! :)

There are a few reasons I haven't gone to visit a doctor yet. For one, I was extremely active in junior high and high school. I always assumed that the stress to my body was causing the irregularities and that my cycle would normalize after I graduated. Two and a half years later, and it still hasn't happened... Another reason I haven't talked to a doctor is that I have no trouble between periods. Too much internet research has led me to believe that people with serious problems also have issues in between periods. Not to mention that once I actually start my period, it is usually the same: Lasts 8 days, heavy flow and cramping the first 3 days, a medium flow the next 1-2 day/s, and light flow the last 4-5 days. Lastly, if there's nothing really wrong with me (like cancer or something crazy), what is the point of going to the doctor? Honestly, I would rather not be on any medications if not absolutely necessary.

I'm really at odds with myself, here. Am I just being dramatic, and this is my "normal?" Other than being an inconvenience, is there really anything wrong? What will a doctor do (what kind of tests) in order to find out? Or will (s)he just give me birth control pills and say, "here, try this, hope it helps"?

Your opinions, thoughts, advice, and experiences are welcome! Thanks for the help! :)