Irregular menstrual periods are periods that are shorter than 21 days or longer than 35. It is a common for some women to have menstrual cycles that differ in length. One month it might be 28 days — which is considered average — and the next month it could be 31 days, and the next 27. This is normal. However, menstrual cycle are considered irregular if they fall outside the normal range.
When counting the days in your cycle, the first day of bleeding is day one, and the last day of the cycle is the first day of bleeding in your next cycle.
Pregnancy can be achieved even with irregular menstrual cycle, however, it may be challenging. This is because irregular period makes it hard for you to know when your ovulation is taking place.
Your chances of achieving pregnancy is increased if you have intercourse around ovulation because you’ll need to have sex during your fertile window to conceive. A woman’s fertile window is the period that falls between a few days before ovulation and the ovulation day.
An irregular menstrual cycle may point to irregular ovulation. This means you may not ovulate every month or you may ovulate at different times from month to month.
It’s possible to ovulate without later bleeding like a period because of previous uterine scarring or certain hormonal medications.
Also, you can have menstrual-like bleeding without ovulation. This can occur when the uterine lining gets so thick that it becomes unstable and naturally sloughs off.
The uterine lining can become thick without ovulation if estrogen, an hormone which is produced before ovulation, continues to be secreted unrestricted by the other female hormone, progesterone, which is produced after ovulation.
Causes of Irregular Periods
In some cases, the cause of irregular menstrual period is unknown. However, there are many possible causes for irregular menstruation, and many of the causes can affect ovulation or make getting pregnant harder. Some causes that may affect ovulation include:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS occurs when the female body secretes too many androgens (Male sex hormones). Excess androgens secretion can hinder mature eggs from developing and being released by the fallopian tubes.
PCOS is the most common cause of infertility from lack of ovulation. Possible causes of PCOS includes:
- being overweight
- sedentary lifestyle
Perimenopause the period before menopause. It occurs when estrogen and progesterone begins to decline. Typically, perimenopause lasts for about 4 years, however, some women can go through it for much longer.
The start of perimenopause is 47, with 51 being the average age of the final menstrual period. Perimenopause ends and menopause begins when you haven’t had a period for 12 months.
Symptoms of perimenopause may include:
- irregular periods
- night sweats
- hot flashes
It is still possible to become pregnant during perimenopause, however, it can be more difficult because the released eggs will be older and possibly less viable.
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped organ at the base of your neck which helps regulate hormones that impact ovulation and menstruation among other things. Apart from irregular periods, other symptoms associated with thyroid disease includes:
- weight changes
- mental fuzziness
- altered heart and metabolic rates
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Being severely overweight or underweight can trigger a chain reaction in your body that interrupts hormonal function. This can lead to irregular periods and irregular ovulation.
Women with a body mass index of less than 20 or greater than 25 are more likely to develop irregular menstrual periods, according to research published in BMC Women’s Health. From the statistics, women who had BMIs between 20 and 25 had normal periods.
Stress can affect the body in many ways, including ovulation. In one study looking at medical students, those who reported higher levels of perceived stress were more likely to have menstrual irregularities compared with those who weren’t stressed.
Ovulation predictor kits and irregular periods
Generally, ovulation takes place midway in your cycle. If you have a 28-day cycle, you will ovulate about day 14. However, with irregular periods, predicting ovulation and timing intercourse to achieve pregnancy can be tough.
The use of ovulation predictor kits are fairly accurate at detecting a surge in luteinizing hormone, which triggers ovulation. They’re easy to use but can get expensive, especially when you’re testing for days or weeks on end.
If you have irregular periods, you may want to wait to use an ovulation predictor kit until you observe other signs of ovulation. Some things to look for:
Increase in your basal body temperature
Using a basal body thermometer, you can take your basal body temperature first thing in the morning, before you eat, talk, or even get out of bed.
READ ALSO: Do Menstrual Pads Cause Rashes?
When you notice a slight increase, usually half a degree to a whole degree, you may have ovulated. This method is not a good way to predict your fertile period because it only shows that ovulation has already occurred.
Increase in cervical mucus
A discharge that appears stretchy, clear, egg white-like on your underwear may indicate that ovulation is approaching.
When to consult a doctor
See a doctor if:
- You have painful periods
- You haven’t had a period for three or more months when you are not in perimenopause stage.
- You have menstrual bleeding that lasts for more than a week.
- You’ve been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for one year and are younger than 35 or for six months or longer and are 35 or older.
- Your pad or tampon gets soaked every one hour during your period.
How to get pregnant with irregular periods
Women with irregular periods who wish to get pregnant should engage in regular unprotected sex. Have intercourse at least every two to three days.
If you have a medical condition that’s affecting fertility, treating that condition may increase your chances of conceiving.
Your doctor may prescribe clomiphene citrate (Clomid) to induce ovulation. Clomid helps stimulate ovulation especially in women with PCOS.
Side effects from Clomid may include:
- breast tenderness
- hot flashes
- abdominal bloating
- release of multiple eggs in one cycle, which can lead to pregnancy with multiples
Weight loss or weight gain may also help. In obese women, losing just 5 to 10 percent of body weight can help regulate ovulation.
Get your doctor’s recommendations for gaining or losing weight. They may be able to provide you with meal plans and exercise guidelines.
Sources: healthline.com, healthspectra.com
Disclaimer: The content provided on healthdiary365.com is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.