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Irregular Periods and Fertility*

Can You Get Pregnant with Irregular Periods?

 

Introduction

If you and your partner are having a hard time conceiving, you’re not alone. Out of 100 couples in the United States, approximately 12 to 13 of them have trouble getting pregnant.1

There are many variables involved, including abnormal or irregular ovulation — which accounts for approximately 30 to 40 percent of all cases.2 Although this issue is not always glaringly obvious, irregular periods, abnormal bleeding, or no periods is often a good indication that you are not ovulating.

While it is possible to conceive when experiencing irregular periods and ovulation problems, it’s important that you uncover the potential root cause so that you can actively improve your chances of becoming pregnant.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re wondering how to get pregnant with irregular periods.

Causes of Irregular Periods

There are many reasons why women experience irregular periods, some of which are more serious than others. From hormonal birth control to perimenopause, excessive exercise to stress, it’s critical that you become aware of the potential variables related to your lifestyle and overall health. Regardless of the cause, if you are experiencing irregular periods, this is a warning sign that something isn’t quite right. After all, regular periods are a sign that your body is working normally.

An irregular period is when you have a menstrual cycle that is shorter or longer than average. This means that from the first day of your period up until the start of your next period is either less than 24 days (+/- a day or two) or more than 38 days (+/- a day or two). If you are experiencing cycles that are close to this range, it’s important that you address your concerns.3

Your periods may also be irregular if your cycle varies by more than 20 days one month to the next. Although there are many possible causes, some of the most common reasons why this occurs include:

  • Eating disorders and excessive dieting
  • Thyroid issues, such as hyperthyroidism
  • Having high levels of prolactin in your blood
  • The use of select medications, including those that treat conditions such as anxiety and epilepsy
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — which accounts for irregular periods in about 1 in 10 women4
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease, which is most often caused by an STI
  • Chronic stress
  • Uncontrolled diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
  • Obesity, as excess fat makes estrogen, interfering with your normal menstrual cycle

Please note: If your menstrual cycle is 28 days one month, 31 days the next month, and 29 days the following month, that is normal. Of course, if you are experiencing any other abnormal symptoms, you must discuss your concerns with your physician.

Irregular Periods and Fertility — Should I Be Concerned?

It is possible to become pregnant when you have an irregular period, but you will likely find it difficult. If you are unsure what your month-to-month cycle is, it’s challenging to know when you’re ovulating. For couples planning to conceive, it’s highly beneficial to time intercourse around your ovulation, as this is your fertile window (referring to a few days prior to ovulation and a day after ovulation).

As discussed above, an irregular period can also be a sign that ovulation is irregular. In some cases, women will experience menstrual-like bleeding without ovulating at all. Considering the pregnancy success rate of healthy women with a regular cycle is 30 percent, you can imagine the impact that an irregular period can have. Studies have shown that if your periods are off by ten days or more, your chances of becoming pregnant decrease exponentially.5

It’s Time to Address Your Reproductive Health

While an irregular period can be a telling sign that something is wrong, infertility is a complex issue. If you and your spouse are trying to conceive, the single most important thing you can do, starting today, is to address your lifestyle and diet in order to support your reproductive health. In response to irregular periods, you should actively reduce stress levels, as high levels of emotional stress have been linked to irregular periods.6 Also, ensure your dietary needs are being met, especially in relation to the micronutrients needed to achieve conception.

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*NOTICE: The contents of this website are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a potential medical condition.