Irregular periods or oligomenorrhea is a condition defined as a menstrual cycle consisting either less than 21 days or more than 36 days. The menstruation is also regarded as irregular if the duration of the cycle does not fall in a specific period, or you have very long cycles (ranging from 45 to 60 days) or you tend to skip a cycle every once in a while. A lot of women know when they will be menstruating, an approximate date, but there are some who do not know when their cycles would start. Irregular periods account for about accounts for 30% to 40% of all cases of infertility but is largely treatable.
Doctor explaining ovulation

What Are Irregular Periods?

Menstruation is the sloughing off or shedding of the innermost lining (endometrium) of the uterus. Menstruation or menses or monthly periods is a regular phenomenon of female mammals during their reproductive phase, and your cycle is considered as regular if you menstruate e every 23 days or every 35 days or anywhere in between, and the length of your cycle does not vary on the either side by a few days. Even if you do not get your periods every 28 days, then also it will be considered a regular cycle. When the length of the period is shorter than 21 days or extends beyond 36 days, your periods would be considered irregular. Variation in cycle lengths would also be a sign of having irregular periods. To calculate the length of your menstrual cycle, simply count the number of days from the first day of your last period to the first day of your next period.

How Can I Get Pregnant With Irregular Periods?

Women having irregular periods usually ovulate or produce eggs inconsistently and eggs are vital for pregnancy. Since the produce less number of eggs, therefore, their chances of getting pregnant are also less.
Normally every woman has monthly menstrual periods and has 11 to 13 chances of conceiving in one year. Women experiencing irregular menstrual periods have less probability of getting pregnant as compare to those having regular periods. However, getting pregnant with irregular periods is not impossible, though the journey to parenthood can take longer and be potentially stressful.

What Causes Irregular Cycles?

Almost everyone has a few irregular cycles, which are caused by stress, fatigue. The main causes of irregular periods are listed as under:

  • Change in contraception method
  • An imbalance in estrogen and progesterone level. In case of hormonal imbalance, it will be difficult for the brain to release the hormones for follicle development
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome PCOS or Stein-Leventhal Syndrome- it is a condition characterized by presence of many fluid filled sacs or cysts. The associated symptoms are obesity, excess of hair growth on the body and irregular or absence of periods. Androgens are the male hormones and PCOS females have high levels of androgens on blood and their ovarian functioning is adversely affected because of this. Read more about PCOS and pregnancy here
  • Sudden and extreme weight loss is a frequent cause of irregular periods. Obesity can also result in menstrual issues
  • Emotional disturbances or stress
  • Eating problems such as bulimia or anorexia can also result in irregular periods
  • Endurance exercises- endurance sports athletes participating in marathon often experience irregular periods
  • Breast feeding- During lactation women usually do not menstruate however periods naturally commences after discontinuation of breast feeding

Pregnant with irregular periods

How Do Irregular Periods Affect My Chances Of Getting Pregnant?

Irregular periods mean that you will not know when you are ovulating and may not even ovulate. To get pregnant, a woman needs to ovulate so as to produce an egg that can be fertilized by the sperm. This condition where ovulation does not happen is known as anovulation and can be treated with fertility drugs.

How Can I Improve My Chances Of Getting Pregnant With Irregular Periods?

Here are some simple tips to help you improve your probability of becoming pregnant and rectify the irregularity in your menstrual cycle. Luckily by incorporating some simple lifestyle changes in your day to day life, you can enhance your fertility chances and make periods regular:

  1. Take a well balanced healthy diet: Eat healthy diet enriched with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and avoid spicy fatty foods. Include a lot of green fresh vegetables and fruits to get the required minerals and vitamins. Interested in Ayurveda? Click here to read how Ayurveda can help in infertility
  2. Keep your weight under control: If you are underweight, gain a few kilos as extremely less body fat is related with low estrogen levels that adversely affect the menstrual cycle. On the other hand cut down on your calorie intake, if you are overweight or obese
  3. Fertility-promoting supplements: If you are trying to conceive then take adequate amount of prenatal vitamins in order to make sure you get a god and adequate supply of nutrients needed promote conception. Besides this herbs like Vitex agnus-castus (the Chasteberry) is also known to improve hormonal balance and enhance the frequency of ovulation
  4. Exercises: Regular exercises are also helpful in augmenting your chances of getting pregnant but avoid doing strenuous exercises
  5. Zero the fertility period: An important point to keep in mind is to know about the fertile period of your monthly cycle. In order to conceive the sperm should meet the egg of the woman and the sperm can survive in the uterus for five days. Women having regular menstrual cycle can easily predict when they will ovulate, but those who have irregular periods face difficulty in assessing the fertile phase. Few doctors, advice the women experiencing irregular periods to have repeated ultrasounds or electronic fertility monitor to assess the correct time of their ovulation

Remember irregular periods do not always imply that you are not ovulating it may also mean that you are simply ovulating but irregularly. If you are planning to get pregnant avoid being panicky as this adversely affects your chances of becoming pregnant. Stress in any form should be avoided. Have patience and try to be contended. Being positive improves your hormonal balance and also helps you in getting your little bundle of joy.

Tracking Ovulation With Irregular Cycles

Timing is everything when it comes to women trying to conceive. Women with regular cycle can easily track when they are ovulating and predict the best couple of days for procreational sex. However, for women who frequently have irregular cycle, predicting ovulation is a bit trickier. Research shows around 40% – 46% of menstrual cycles vary by 7 or more days. (Source)

Most Websites and apps use a standard formula for calculating fertile days and are not accurate. Irregular periods pose a big challenge to track ovulation. Irregular periods cause difficulty in conception because the woman gets only 4-6 fertile days every month, making the path to parenthood longer and tiresome. Hence tracking ovulation is very important to increase the chances of conception.
irregular periods graph
(Source)

What Are The Different Ways To Track Ovulation With Irregular Periods?

Manually tracking ovulation does not work for women with irregular cycles. This is where tools like ovulation predictor kits and fertility monitors do the tracking for them.

  1. Ovulation prediction kits: Ovulation prediction kits can detect a rise in luteinizing hormone (LH), which happens 24 to 48 hours prior to ovulation. A woman can increase her chances of conception by timing intercourse soon after a surge in LH.
    A lot of leading pharmaceutical brands across the world offer ovulation prediction kits that can be used to predict the day a woman is ovulating. For women with irregular periods, this can be one of their best bet to predict when they are ovulating. The ovulation prediction kits are easy to use and work more like a urine pregnancy test kit. To know more about ovulation prediction kits read: Ovulation Predictor Kits
  2. Fertility monitors: Apart from ovulation prediction kits, fertility monitors can also help women with irregular cycle to predict ovulation and help in conception. Fertility monitors which track two hormones i.e. luteinizing hormone and estrogen are proven to increase the chances of conception by upto 89% and work even for irregular cycles

In India, fertility monitors are gaining popularity with the launch of devices like the Inito fertility monitor. It works for women even with irregular cycles as it accurately measures the surge in LH hormone and rise in estrogen in urine and predicts upto 6 fertile days specific to every women’s body. The Inito fertility monitor is available on www.inito.com . It is the best and most easy way to track ovulation at home and the results are clinically validated for accuracy.
Also read: Best Ovulation Kits And Fertility Monitors In India

If you are trying to get pregnant and have an irregular cycle, it is important to take advantage of the most fertile windows of opportunity in order to ensure success in conception. Missing these days can significantly lower your chances of getting pregnant and require waiting for the next cycle. Thus tracking and predicting your ovulation cycle and knowing your peak fertile days can increase your odds of getting pregnant.

Bonus tip!

Spend more and more time with your husband and talk about the good things of life. This is an excellent remedy to shed off all the life’s stress and will strengthen your love bondage with each other. Have intimate relations more often!