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Irregular Periods And Getting Pregnant: Are The Two Related?

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You may want to watch your menstrual cycles closely if you want to become pregnant. This is because certain times during your period provide a greater chance of conception.

However, if your periods are unpredictable, you may worry that you cannot become pregnant. Referred to as an irregular period, being too early or too late in the menstrual cycle can result in certain health conditions. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant if you don’t have the perfect cycle. 

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of the menstrual cycle, its role in helping you become pregnant, and how to increase your chance of becoming pregnant, even with an irregular period!

What Is The Menstrual Cycle And Its Role In Pregnancy?

The menstrual cycle, or period, occurs every 21 to 35 days in most females. During each menstrual cycle, certain female hormones stimulate the release of an egg from the ovary. The uterine lining then thickens to support a pregnancy, and this lining is shed if there is not a pregnancy. This shedding is a discharge of blood and tissue from the uterine lining through the vagina, aka, your period.

After ovulation, at around 14 days or so during the menstrual period, the egg that the body releases moves down the fallopian tube, where the sperm can reach it. If the sperm fertilizes the egg, the embryo travels through the fallopian tube and implants in the thickened wall of the uterus.

What Is An Irregular Period?

An irregular period occurs when a woman’s menstrual cycle comes more than 35 days apart, also known as oligomenorrhea, or if they come less than 21 days apart, also known as polymenorrhea. Other examples of irregular periods include:

  • Menstrual bleeding less than two days during a menstrual cycle
  • Periods 20 days or more in variation
  • Amenorrhea, or absence of a menstrual period for three months or more without pregnancy

What Cause An Irregular Period?

If you have an irregular period, you might be wondering what could be causing it. The most common causes of an irregular menstrual cycle include:

  • Smoking
  • Perimenopause, which usually occurs in the late ’40s and early ’50s
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency, or when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before the age of 40 years
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa
  • Excessive exercise
  • Too much or too little thyroid hormone release which indicates thyroid health issues
  • Higher than normal levels of prolactin, which is a hormone that helps the body produce milk
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Cushing’s syndrome, or elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol
  • Adrenal issues such as late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • Hormonal birth control use
  • Certain medicines, such as those that help treat epilepsy or mental health problems

If you notice irregular menstrual periods, you should visit your doctor immediately to have labs and other testing completed to see what is causing this issue. Your primary care doctor may have to refer you to a specialist, such as a gynecologist or an endocrinologist, for specific testing to find the cause of your irregular menstrual periods.  

Can You Become Pregnant With An Irregular Period?

Experts suggest you can still become pregnant with an irregular period, but you’ll need to track ovulation to help you achieve pregnancy. There are several ways experts suggest tracking your ovulation with an irregular period which include:

  • Menstrual cycle charting: Consider tracking your menstrual cycle on a calendar or an app on your phone, such as Cycle Beads, so you know how far apart your menstrual cycles are and how long they last. This is valuable data that could help your doctor figure out what may be the cause of your irregular periods as well as figure out when you are ovulating.
  • Cervical mucus identification: Experts say that you can figure out when you are ovulating due to the appearance of cervical mucus. As you are nearing the start of ovulation, you’ll notice a slippery clear discharge from your vagina that is like the texture of egg whites. This sign will tell you that your body will release an egg soon and that this is a suitable time to try and conceive.
  • Basal body temperature: Your body temperature will spike when ovulation occurs. Therefore, if you track your body temperature daily, you’ll know your normal body temperature and when you’re having an ovulation spike.

How Can I Increase My Chances Of Conception With An Irregular Period?

If you’re following the above methods and still having trouble becoming pregnant, you should visit your doctor for help. They may be able to perform testing to determine why you are having difficulty becoming pregnant. Other ways you can increase your chances of conception with an irregular period include:

Treat The Issue Causing Your Irregular Periods

study in 2014 found that those women who had treatment for their PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, with certain medicines, had a greater chance of ovulation and live birth. In addition, if your irregular periods are due to another hormone-related issue, then treating the problem may help improve your menstrual cycles and improve your chances of becoming pregnant.

Change Your Medications

Since some medicines can lead to irregular periods, you may want to ask your doctor to change your medications to improve ovulation.

Check Your Family Medical History

Visiting your doctor and reviewing your family’s medical history can help determine if you are at risk for a health issue affecting your menstrual cycle.

Work To Obtain Or Maintain A Healthy Weight

Experts suggest that those who are overweight can have a harder time conceiving a child than those who are not. Make sure you eat a healthy diet and exercise each day. It can also help to take a daily multivitamin that includes folic acid, which can prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. Folic acid can help lower your risk of having a baby with neural tube defects. 

If you still have issues losing or managing your weight, have your doctor check to see if your hormones are balanced. Imbalances can increase your chance of weight gain or make it hard to lose weight. 

Quit Smoking, Drinking Alcohol, And Taking Drugs

Research shows that smoking can reduce your chance of a healthy pregnancy. Quitting may help improve your chance of becoming pregnant. Additionally, avoiding alcohol or taking drugs can help prepare a woman’s body for a healthy pregnancy.

If you are having trouble quitting smoking, drinking, or drugs, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or for resources on quitting. 


Wrapping It Up

An irregular period doesn’t mean you can’t conceive a baby. Make sure to visit your OB/GYN for recommendations if you’re unsure how to move forward. Additionally, make sure to follow the steps we’ve listed above to help figure out the cause of your irregular period!

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