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Do you suffer from irregular and unpredictable periods? If you are TTC, irregular menstrual cycles can make things more complicated. What do you need to know about how irregular cycles can influence your fertility and chances of conceive.

Irregular periods defined

Some women's periods are as regular as clockwork, but life and lifestyle can and do affect a woman's cycle at times. Almost every woman is a little irregular at times. "Irregular periods" are periods that vary significantly from one month to the next, without a clear pattern. It can also refer to cycles that last longer than 36 days, or less than 21 days. Most teen girls who recently started menstruating will have irregular cycles this is normal. After a few years of having cycles, a clear pattern normally emerges. Women who never ended up with regular, semi-predictable cycles or those who suddenly started having irregular cycles, could have trouble getting pregnant depending on the reason their cycles are not regular. Sometimes, irregular cycles are an indication that a woman is not ovulating (releasing eggs), so that would cause clear problems. Here are the most common causes of irregular menstrual cycles:

  • A hormonal imbalance, which may or may not hinder ovulation.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a condition that has many diabetes-like symptoms and can interfere with fertility.
  • Exercising too much, or being over or underweight.
  • Breastfeeding.

Trying to conceive with irregular periods

Should you see a doctor if you want to try to conceive and have irregular periods? In short, yes! Every couple who is trying to conceive should ideally see a doctor for a general preconception checkup including blood tests and STD testing. Beside that, every woman who has been suffering from irregular periods longer than a few cycles should ideally see a doctor as well, to rule out serious causes and get treatment as soon as possible if you do need it. If you are trying to conceive and you have irregular periods, you have two excellent reasons to show your face at your family practice clinic. Irregular periods that also have other problems like pain and cramping, or periods that last for over seven days may require treatment. If you are diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance or a condition such as PCOS, there are treatment options. The most important issue for women who are hoping to get pregnant is finding out if they ovulate or not. There are blood tests that determine this. Does it turn out that you are indeed ovulating? Whether you find out by taking ovulation tests all month until one turns up positive, or you choose to go through your doctor, ovulation is really, really good news. If you are in your twenties or early to mid thirties, you have time to get pregnant on your own and there is no reason to believe you will have trouble. You may not have the advantage of planning intercourse around the time of ovulation, but that can be overcome. Some tips:

  • Have intercourse every two or three days throughout the month, knowing that you could ovulate at any time. Since your fertile window lasts around five days (as long as sperm can survive in your body), this will cover you :).
  • Since you don't know when you ovulate and thus when you could potentially be pregnant, stay away from alcohol during the whole month when you are trying to get pregnant.
  • Eat as well as you can, and take a multivitamin supplement including folic acid. Exercise regularly, but not too much, and attempt to lose weight if you are overweight, or to gain weight if you are underweight.

Are you trying to get pregnant with irregular periods? Would you like to share your story or ask a question? We encourage comments!

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