If you’re trying to conceive, irregular periods can be a big headache. You might even start wondering if you’re able to get pregnant at all. But don’t give up just yet: many women are still able to conceive in spite of a wonky menstrual cycle. Let’s go through the basics of handling irregular periods when you want to get pregnant.
Irregular periods and pregnancy: Definition of “irregular”
The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days clear – but of course, by definition, not everyone is average. A normal menstrual cycle can vary from 21 to 35 days. Anything within this range doesn’t necessarily mean any trouble when it comes to conceiving if it’s at least consistent, and you don’t have any other symptoms.
However, you may be considered to have an “irregular” cycle if…
Your cycles are too long, or too short
A normal menstrual cycle usually lasts 21 to 35 days. This gives the body the time it needs to develop the ovarian follicle, which contains the egg cell released at ovulation, and lay down a coat of fresh uterine lining in case a fertilized egg attempts to implant and start a pregnancy.
If your cycles are too long or too short, it could be a sign that one or both steps in that process aren’t occurring as scheduled.
Your cycle length varies
When you first start having periods and when you’re approaching menopause, it’s common for your cycle length to vary. However, once you’re into your reproductive years, a healthy hormone balance will help keep this in a consistent range. With irregular cycles, you may have a 21-day cycle one month, a 30-day one the next, then a 40-day one, then another 21-day one.
Irregular periods and pregnancy difficulties
If your irregular cycles are too long or too short, it could be a sign that you failed to release an egg, or that the uterine lining did not be developed enough to support a pregnancy. This can be caused by a range of conditions ranging from of hormone imbalances like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) to psychological stress.
On the other hand, if your cycle length simply varies too much, it can also be too difficult to tell what point in your cycle you’re likely to be most fertile and plan baby-making sex accordingly – even if you are ovulating and producing uterine lining normally. This can make it difficult to get pregnant in its own right, even all your equipment is in working order.
How to get pregnant fast with irregular periods
Even if you have an irregular cycle, it’s still possible to get pregnant as long as you’re ovulating and producing a healthy endometrium each cycle. However, since your body is marching to the beat of its own drum, it’s a good idea to learn how to read your own fertility signs and support a healthy hormone balance in daily life.
Track your basal body temperature (BBT)
Your basal body temperature (BBT) refers to the temperature of your body when you’re as close to a state of rest as possible, like when you first get up in the morning. It’s affected by the hormonal changes your body undergoes as you approach both ovulation and menstruation.
If you take a daily graph of this number, it can be an effective way to help you understand when you’re most likely to be fertile. It’s also possible to combine this with an awareness for other signs of your body’s response to menstrual cycle hormones.
On top of this, a BBT graph will also give your healthcare provider very useful information on your menstrual cycle if you see a doctor for fertility treatment later on, so it’s a great habit to get into when you’re trying to conceive.
Live a hormone-healthy lifestyle
Not all hormone imbalances can be solved through simple lifestyle changes, but if factors like diet or stress are what’s throwing your menstrual cycle out of whack, then addressing these could be the first step to getting pregnant.
- Nutrition and exercise
Being overweight or underweight can throw off your reproductive hormones, so you may want to begin by taking stock of whether you’re getting the right nutrition in the right amounts.
It’s also best to aim for at 2.5 hours of aerobic exercise over the course of each week – whether that’s a couple of days at the gym, or broken up into a little bit of activity like a brisk walk on your lunch break every day.
Wonky levels of estrogen and progesterone can lead to sleep troubles like insomnia and ironically, sleep deprivation can also lead to hormone imbalances. Talk about a vicious cycle!
If you’re not getting enough sleep to wake up feeling refreshed (which for most adults works out to 7 to 9 hours a night), think about taking stock of your sleep hygiene. Something as simple as cutting out electronic screens for at least a half-hour before going to bed could be the key to getting your sleep schedule back on track.
See a doctor for help on how to get pregnant with irregular periods
If it’s taking you longer than 1 year to get pregnant, or 6 months if you’re 35 or older, don’t put off seeing a doctor. Irregular periods can be a sign of difficulties in ovulation, and ovulation troubles are thought to be a factor in up to 40% of all infertility cases.
If irregular ovulation is making it difficult for you to conceive, then fertility treatment doesn’t necessarily mean embarking on a potentially draining and expensive treatment like IVF.
Treatment with ovulation-inducing drugs like clomiphene (a.k.a Clomid®) can be used to spur the ovaries into releasing an egg cell, allowing you to get pregnant. However, this isn’t necessarily the right choice for everyone hoping to get pregnant, so see a fertility specialist to work out if this is the right option for you.
Getting pregnant with irregular periods is possible
Irregular periods can be frustrating when you’re trying to conceive, but it shouldn’t make pregnancy impossible. With the right lifestyle adjustments, you may be even able to work around a wonky menstrual cycle and get pregnant without any other interventions.
However, if it’s taking you longer than expected to conceive, a visit to a fertility specialist may be in order to help you work out what’s causing your menstrual irregularities and get you the right treatment. Either way, irregular periods don’t mean you’re unable to conceive, so don’t panic if yours aren’t always on schedule.