Does An Irregular Period Affect Ovulation Or Your Ability To Get Pregnant
As we talked about above, the timing of ovulation will determine when your period will startnot the other way around. However, highly variable ovulation and a short luteal phase may go hand-in-hand, and a too-short luteal phase can make it very difficult to get or to stay pregnant. If you and your doctor determine that you have luteal phase deficiency, there are treatment protocols available to help lengthen the luteal phase and make pregnancy achievable and sustainable.
Causes Of A Short Cycle
People who ovulate earlier in their cycle often have fewer days between periods. Some specific causes for a short cycle include:
- Endometriosis: A
- 34% less likely to get a positive result when researchers tested if they had ovulated.
- Birth control: Sometimes, a person using hormonal birth control will experience breakthrough bleeding. This type of bleeding is not a true period, but rather a side effect of the birth control.
What Is Considered An Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Many things related to the menstrual cycle could be considered irregular, like periods lasting more than 7 days, bleeding or spotting between periods, or missing periods 3 or more months in a row. Basically, anything that occurs outside of your normal menstrual cycle or period experience is considered irregular.
However, abnormalities can rise to a more serious level than a slight irregularity. These include things like a period stopping completely, severe pain during a period, or abnormal uterine bleeding. Both minor irregularities and more serious abnormalities can be concerning, and you should talk to your doctor if you start to experience either.
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How Irregular Periods Change During Aging
Its very common to have irregular periods before the age of 20 and after the age of 40. During the first few years after your first period, its normal to have irregular periods because the bodys system that regulates periods is still maturing. By age 20, most women will have regular menstrual cycles.
Women usually go through the perimenopausal transition in their 40s, which causes irregular periods. As you approach menopause, periods get further apart until they stop for good. A woman is in menopause when she hasnt had a period for a year.
What Does It Mean If I Have An Irregular Period With Brown Blood Or Spotting
Brown bleeding at the beginning of your period or brown bleeding toward the end of your period can be a sign of an underlying issue. Tail-end brown bleeding is usually a telltale indicator of luteal phase deficiency, as discussed above. It can also be indicative of other issues, such as endometriosis or PCOS. Let your doctor know if you experience brown bleeding whether or not your periods are irregular.
Spotting can be caused by many different things, from certain sexually-transmitted infections, to fibroids, to PCOS, to cancer. You should talk to your doctor if you experience spotting, regardless of whether or not your periods are also irregular.
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Talking To A Healthcare Provider
When talking to your healthcare provider, show them your cycle history. Also, tell them if youâve recently noticed unexpected changes in your body, such as unexplained abdominal pain, difficulty controlling your weight, or unusual hair growth on your face or body. This can help them identify what might be causing your cycle irregularity.
A healthcare provider will probably ask questions about your symptoms and your medical and menstrual history and perform a simple physical exam. In some cases, they may also:
Ask questions about your full health history, including medical and surgical history, social history, and family history
Perform blood tests to check the levels of hormones and sugars in the blood. Hormones they will typically check for include testosterone, thyroid hormone, prolactin, and tests of sugar metabolism.
Perform a pelvic ultrasound of your ovaries and uterus
Managing a clinically irregular cycle will help you to meet your short-term goals, like having a more regular period or becoming pregnant, and long-term goals for staying healthy and well.
What Is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a condition that results from abnormal levels of certain hormones, causing women to have irregular or no menstrual periods. PCOS is a genetic condition, meaning that you were born with it. You may have a family member with PCOS and it may affect your children.
In some women, hormone changes may begin as early as their first menstrual cycle. In other women, changes occur over time. There is no cure for PCOS, but its symptoms can be treated and may include:
- Excess hair on the face and body
- Darkened color and change in texture of the skin along the neck, armpits, groin and inner thighs
- Irregular periods or no periods
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Vaginal yeast infections
To diagnose your PCOS, your doctor will ask you questions about your health, your menstrual cycle, and your family history. A complete exam will be conducted, including blood tests to check your hormone and insulin levels and an ultrasound to look at your ovaries. PCOS is a lifelong condition and treatment depends on your symptoms and whether you want to become pregnant. Long-term treatment may be needed if other medical problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, arise. Changes in lifestyle such as exercise, weight loss, and a low carbohydrate diet can relieve your PCOS symptoms.
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Whats A Normal Menstrual Cycle
Your menstrual cycle lasts from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period. The average menstrual cycle is about 25-30 days, but it can be as short as 21 days or longer than 35 its different from person to person. The number of days in your cycle may also vary from month to month. When you get your period, its normal to bleed anywhere from 2 to 7 days.
The average person loses anywhere between 1-6 tablespoons of menstrual fluid during each period. It can be thin or clumpy, and varies in color from dark red to brown or pink. If your period is so heavy that you have to change maxi pads or super tampons every hour, call your doctor or your local Planned Parenthood health center.
Everyones body is different, so their periods are different too whats normal varies from person to person, and can change over your lifetime. Some birth control methods or health conditions may also affect your period.
For Many Women That Time Of The Month Isnt Actually A Monthly Occurrence At All
In fact, about one third of women do not have regular periods. This can mean that the time between periods is very long, or changes from cycle to cycle.
Having irregular periods isnt always a bad thing, but it can definitely be a nuisance. Like when it arrives when youre unprepared, or when you are planning to go on holiday.
More seriously though, irregular periods add a degree of difficulty to getting pregnant or can be the first signal that something else may be wrong with your health.
So how do you know if your periods are normal? What is a normal length of time between periods? And how irregular can they be before you should start to worry?
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Can I Get Pregnant With An Irregular Period
Yes, because women with irregular periods can still ovulate, however, the timing of ovulation may be harder to predict, Dr. Sandsmark said.
Sometimes making lifestyle changes can regulate previously erratic periods and help you conceive. Some women, however, may require the use of other treatment options.
Here are some general guidelines when it comes to conception and medical evaluations:
- If youre younger than 35 years old and have been having unprotected sex for 12 months with no success
- If youre over the age of 35 and have been having unprotected sex for 6 months or more
- If youre 40 years old or older
Can Irregular Periods Cause Infertility Can I Still Get Pregnant With An Irregular Period
Irregular periods themselves do not cause infertility, but they can be a symptom of an underlying issue that may cause or contribute to infertility. Again, this is why getting to the bottom of an irregular period is keyand where FAMs are significantly more helpful than birth control when it comes to addressing irregular periods.
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Drink Apple Cider Vinegar Daily
Research from 2013 showed that drinking 0.53 oz of apple cider vinegar daily may restore ovulatory menstruation in women with PCOS. More research is needed to validate these results, as this study involved only seven participants.
Apple cider has a bitter taste, which may be difficult for some people to consume. If you want to try taking it but have a hard time with the flavor, you can try diluting it with water and adding a tablespoon of honey.
Why Does My Period Change Colour
Periods can vary in colour, from bright red to very dark brown/black. Blood that is shed quickly is generally much brighter than blood that has been sitting around for longer. This is why brighter blood is often seen at the beginning of a period, while darker blood generally occurs towards the end. It is also not unusual for light periods to be darker than heavier periods. This is because the colour of blood is altered as it flows more slowly. Small blood clots are generally no reason for concern, as blood naturally clots when it sits around for a while in the uterus before it is shed.
What If My Period Is Irregular
Its really common to have irregular menstrual cycles at some point in your life especially when you first start getting your period.
Examples of irregular periods include:
Missing a period altogether
Heavier or lighter bleeding than usual
Bleeding longer than usual
Unpredictable timing of periods from month to month
Keeping track of your periods and symptoms on a menstrual cycle calendar or in an app is a good way to learn whats normal for your body, and help you know if anything changes.
Some peoples periods are irregular a lot. It may just be the way their body naturally works, or it can be caused by a health problem. If many of your periods are irregular, unpredictable, or abnormal, talk with a doctor to make sure everythings okay. They can also help you find a hormonal birth control method that may help make your period lighter and/or more regular.
Can You Get Pregnant With Irregular Periods
Yes, its possible to become pregnant with irregular periods. It may be more difficult to track ovulation and identify a missed period, but there are tools and trackers that can help.
If youre concerned your irregular periods may be caused by an underlying issue thats affecting your fertility, talk with your doctor.
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Ovulation Predictor Kits And Irregular Periods
Ovulation generally occurs midway in your cycle. If you have a typical 28-day cycle, youd ovulate about day 14. But when your periods are irregular, predicting ovulation and timing intercourse to up pregnancy chances can be difficult.
Ovulation predictor kits are fairly accurate at detecting a surge in luteinizing hormone, which triggers ovulation. And while theyre easy to use, requiring just a quick pass through your urine stream, they can get expensive, especially when youre testing for days or weeks on end.
If you have irregular periods, you may want to wait to use an ovulation predictor kit until you observe other signs of ovulation. Some things to look for:
What Health Problems Can Irregular Periods Indicate
Two of the health problems mentioned above, thyroid disease and polycystic ovary syndrome , can cause irregular periods.
Another health problem that can cause irregular periods is uterine fibroids, which are benign lumps that grow on the uterus. Some of the symptoms of this illness are heavy periods, cramping, painful sex, and an urge to urinate.
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What Causes Periods To Become Irregular Or Stop
If your period is late or has stopped, its very important to check if you are pregnant.
Periods can be irregular after childbirth, a miscarriage or if you terminate a pregnancy . Your periods might also become irregular in the years leading up to menopause, which is the stage when periods stop completely.
There are many other factors that may affect how often you get your period, such as:
- excessive exercise
- some health conditions
A Curious Case Of Anovulation
Irregular periods may also be a sign of anovulation. During the menstrual cycle, a mature egg releases. When ovulation does not occur, the cycle is anovulatory. Though not a disease, research shows consistent anovulation indicates an underlying fertility or hormonal issue. In most cases, doctors prescribe fertility drugs or other treatment to improve ovulation and regulate the period.
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How Is Abnormal Menstruation Treated
The treatment of abnormal menstruation depends on the underlying cause:
There are other procedural options which can help heavy menstrual bleeding. A five-year contraceptive intrauterine device , called Mirena®, has been approved to help lessen bleeding, and can be as effective as surgical procedures such as endometrial ablation. This is inserted in the doctors office with minimal discomfort, and also offers contraception. Endometrial ablation is another option. It uses heat or electrocautery to destroy the lining of the uterus. It is usually only used when other therapies have been tried and failed. This is because scars from the procedure can make monitoring the uterus more difficult if bleeding persists in the future.
What Does Anovulation Mean
Ovulation, releasing a mature egg from the ovary, is a normal part of the reproductive cycle. It usually starts around your first menstrual period and stops with menopause. Anovulation is the term used when you are not ovulating. Signs of anovulation include lack of periods, irregular periods, and abnormal bleeding either between or during your periods.
Sometimes no specific cause can be discovered for anovulation. In other cases, your doctor can determine that your lack of ovulation is due to:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Aftereffects of using certain drugs such as oral contraceptives
- Overproduction of the hormone prolactin
- Primary ovarian failure
The good news is that once the cause of anovulation is determined, it can be successfully treated with medication in the vast majority of cases.
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When To Call A Doctor
- You miss three or more periods a year.
- You get your period more often than every 21 days.
- You get your period less often than every 35 days.
- You are bleeding more heavily than usual during your period.
- You bleed for more than 7 days.
- You have more pain than usual during a period.
Can I Chart My Cycle With Fertility Awareness If I Have An Irregular Period
Yes! It is an inaccurate but common assumption that fertility awareness methods of cycle charting are only for women with regular periods. Not only is it true that a woman with irregular periods can use fertility awareness, FAMs can better serve a woman with irregular periods, because charting her bodys signs can help pinpoint any underlying issues that may be causing or contributing to her irregular cycle.
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How Do I Know If My Cycle Is Normal
Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period and continues until the first day of your next period. How long your period lasts and how often you get your period is different for everyone.
Normal menstrual cycles range from 21 to 35 days long, with an average of 28 days. Periods usually last from 3 to 7 days.
If you always have approximately the same number of days between periods, your menstrual cycle is regular. If your periods dont follow a pattern, they are irregular. This is called oligomenorrhoea.
For a year or two after you first get your period, its normal for your menstrual cycle to be irregular. For most women, periods will eventually become regular. However some women never develop a regular cycle.
When To Worry About Irregular Periods
One irregular period every now and then is usually not a cause for concern. However, if your cycle is consistently off-schedule, get evaluated by your OB-GYN to rule out more serious causes, such as:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Precancerous and cancerous conditions of uterus
- Medical conditions such as thyroid disease
- Certain conditions affecting the liver and kidney
- Disorders of blood coagulation
If left untreated, many of these conditions can lead to long-term fertility issues and pregnancy complications. Early action can help prevent these dangerous complications.
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Causes Of Irregular Periods
There are many possible causes of irregular periods. Sometimes they may just be normal for you.
Common causes include:
- puberty your periods might be irregular for the first year or two
- the start of the menopause
- early pregnancy take a pregnancy test to rule this out
- some types of hormonal contraception such as the contraceptive pill or intrauterine system
- extreme weight loss or weight gain, excessive exercise or stress
- medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome or a problem with your thyroid