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Irregular Periods and Pregnancy

A woman can get pregnant if she is sexually active, even if her periods are irregular. It is difficult to make broad or sweeping statements about irregular periods because irregular periods have a wide range of causes. However, many women with irregular periods begin to identify their underlying causes  when they are trying to conceive and are giving more attention to their menstrual cycle.

What Causes Irregular Periods?

Irregular Periods and Pregnancy

Menstrual cycles are considered irregular if they are less than 21 days or longer than 35 days. Irregular periods can also come in the form of painful menstruation, a heavier or lighter flow, or a missed or extra period.

Irregular periods are common, and are often attributed to changing hormone levels, which can be caused by stress, illness, daily fatigue, pregnancy, and weight changes.

Keeping track of your periods with a calendar by taking note of the first and last days of your period and also keeping track of any spotting or pain can help. One way to estimate bleeding is by noting how many pads or tampons you use per day. The information in your diary can help a doctor identify the cause of your menstrual irregularities.

Irregular periods can also be caused by medical conditions such as fibroids, diabetes, thyroid problems, infections, or endometriosis. If you have the symptoms of one of these conditions, it is important to go to a doctor to get it diagnosed and treated.

How Do Irregular Periods Affect Pregnancy?

A couple of days of fluctuation should not cause too much concern. However, if periods are longer or shorter than the suggested averages, then it can make becoming pregnant more challenging. This is because it can be hard to predict when you are most fertile.

Even if your period is irregular you should still be able to keep track of when you are ovulating by keeping a calendar and paying attention to cervical mucus, which usually becomes slippery, clear, and stretchy during ovulation. Checking your basal body temperature can also help, because women experience a spike in basal body temperature when they ovulate.

Treatments for Irregular Periods

Relaxation and meditation may help with irregular periods.

It's always a good idea to maintain a healthy weight and diet, exercise regularly, and sleep for at least seven hours a night. Since high stress levels are a common factor in irregular periods, relaxation and meditation may help.

It is a good idea to consult your doctor if you are having trouble getting pregnant or if you are worried about your irregular periods. A doctor can rule out any more serious conditions and prescribe you the correct medications to treat any condition you may have. Click to learn more about irregular period treatments.

Irregular Periods in Young Women

As the body adjusts to new levels of hormones during puberty, a young woman may find that her period is inconsistent. Learn more here.

Vaginal Bleeding during Postmenopause

Postmenopausal women may experience vaginal bleeding, which can have several causes. Click here for more info on vaginal bleeding after menopause.

Irregular Periods in Women

Most women are likely to suffer menstrual irregularities at some point during their reproductive lifetime, and as a result of several factors such as...

  • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007