You want to have a baby, so you’re reading about ovulation kits, ovulation calculators, fertile windows… But what if you have irregular periods?
It sure is frustrating: all help to conceive a baby seems to be designed for women with very regular menstrual cycles!
Unfortunately, getting pregnant with irregular periods is harder than with regular ones, since you lose the possibility of planning ahead. Getting pregnant is already something very stressful, especially when a few months pass by and there is still no baby. Having no way of knowing when your fertile window is without spending tons of money on using an ovulation kit every single day can be reason enough to make any future mummy anxious, stressed, and sad.
Irregular periods and pregnancy is not such an uncommon tandem. However, women who are not regular may have problems ovulating – which makes getting pregnant challenging. Let’s look at this matter with more detail.
What are irregular periods?
A period is considered to be regular when it comes every 21 to 35 days and it has a regular flow of blood (between 20 and 60 millimetres). A regular period will last between 2 and 6 days. So, if we consider this as the norm, a woman has irregular periods when:
- They don’t always last the same amount of days, for example, one lasts 28 days and the next one 34;
- They always last the same, but are too short or too long (shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days)
- They don’t happen at all, a condition called amenorrhea
What causes irregular periods is not always clear or easy to determine. Most women go through an irregular phase in their lives, and around 30% of them have to deal with this during all their fertile lives.
When it is just for a period of time, irregular periods can be caused by stress or illnesses, and will go back to normal once the disease is cured or the stress is over. When the irregularity is chronic, it is usually due to a problem with the hormonal balance called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is a disorder of the endocrine system and also the main cause of infertility among women. Eating disorders can also cause irregularities, and some other times the cause of irregular periods remains unknown.
Irregular periods and fertility
First thing you need to know is having irregular periods doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get pregnant. A natural pregnancy can still happen, however, there are less chances and it will be a more challenging process. The main problem is being unable to detect when ovulation takes place, which makes it impossible to profit that fertile window women have once a month.
In some complicated cases, like long periods of amenorrhea or lack of ovulation, getting pregnant will not be possible, since ovulation is an essential part of the process. If the ovary is not releasing mature eggs, they of course won’t be fertilised by the sperm.
However, if you do have irregular periods (that is, they are irregular but they indeed are), you can try to track your ovulation by doing the following:
- First of all, keep a menstrual cycle calendar anyway. Your periods might be irregular, but if you keep track of them for a few months it is possible that you find some sort of pattern. If you can’t conceive even if you have sex regularly, this information will be useful to your doctors once you and your partner start doing fertility tests later on.
- Pay attention to ovulation symptoms, especially the cervical mucus, which changes throughout all your menstrual cycle. Cervical mucus is more dry and gummy-like after your period is gone, and will become more slippery the closest you are to ovulation. When you are very close to ovulation or ovulating, cervical mucus is similar to egg whites.
- Measure your basal body temperature: right after ovulation, your basal temperature will rise. Since that raise occurs after you have ovulated, it may not help unless you are able to have sex right away, but at least you will know if you are ovulating or not.
- Use ovulation kits: They can be used as a predictor of ovulation, since they detect the LH hormone (that increases when ovulation is close) in your urine. Bad news is, since you have irregular cycles and don’t know when ovulation can occur, you will have to take these tests several times a month, which may be expensive.
How to get pregnant with irregular periods
Not all you can do is related to tracking your ovulation, though. Here you have some other tips for women with irregular periods who are trying to get pregnant:
- Be healthy! Lifestyle can also affect your menstrual cycle; so pay attention to eating disorders or being the couch-potato type! Eat a well balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and stay away from fats and fried foods. Exercise is important too! It’s important to do it, and also to not overdue it, because too much exercise could also affect your fertility in a negative way.
- Find your perfect weight: being underweight or overweight doesn’t help with irregular periods or fertility in general, so try to lose or gain some pounds if you’re far away from your ideal body mass.
- Take some prenatal vitamins or other medication that helps ovulation. You can talk to your doctor for more information.
- Have lots of sex! If you are ovulating even if you suffer from irregular periods, your main problem is not being able to find out your fertile window. An easy and fun solution for this is having sex at least every 2-3 days, so you can be sure to have some living sperms swimming around in there once your ovary releases the mature egg.
And finally, don’t stress! Stress is one of fertility’s main enemies, so just try to be overall healthy, have sex regularly and get help from doctors if you need it. Getting pregnant with irregular periods is more difficult and takes longer than the average, but not impossible, so don’t despair. Irregular periods won’t necessarily get in the way of you becoming a mum!