How to Get Pregnant with Irregular Periods (TTC Guide)
When your periods are irregular, trying to conceive (TTC) can be challenging. Women with regular periods are four times more likely to conceive than women with irregular periods. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that natural conception isn’t possible and many women with irregular cycles go on to have healthy pregnancies despite an irregular period.
In this post you’ll learn how to get pregnant fast and manage the challenges presented by an irregular period, including tracking ovulation, timing intercourse, and other potential health complications.
Can you get pregnant with irregular periods?
Yes! Getting pregnant is related to ovulation and as long as you are ovulating (even irregularly) you should be able to get pregnant. Irregular periods don’t necessarily mean the absence of ovulation, they just mean you are not ovulating on a regular or predictable schedule.
While this may make things more difficult than it would be for someone with regular cycles, it doesn’t make it impossible. Sometimes it can be as simple as making lifestyle changes to regulate your period or may be as involved as fertility treatments. Regardless of what helps you conceive, irregular periods do not spell the end of your pregnancy hopes.
What is an irregular period and how common are they?
Women are often told that the average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but in reality this is an outdated number based on averages. What counts as a normal period varies widely from woman to woman. A normal period may occur every 21 days to 35 days and typically lasts two to seven days.
An irregular period is defined as one or more of the following:
- A menstrual cycle lasting fewer than 21 days or more than 35 days
- A period that lasts fewer than two days or longer than eight days
- Cycles that vary in length by more than seven to nine days (for example, 24 days one cycle and 42 days the next)
- Having fewer than nine menstrual periods in a year- also known as oligomenorrhea
- Going 90+ days without a menstrual period with no medical explanation (i.e. pregnancy, hormonal contraception, or menopause) – also known as amenorrhea
Irregular periods can also be characterized by abnormal menstrual bleeding, and was previously referred to as menorrhagia.
Symptoms of menorrhagia include:
- Soaking through one or more pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours
- Filling a menstrual cup every 2-3 hours
- Needing to “double-up” on menstrual pads or waking up in the middle of the night to change your pad
- Passing blood clots larger than the size of a quarter
- Menstrual periods lasting longer than 7 days
- Heavy menstrual flow that keeps you from doing things you would normally do
- Symptoms of anemia such as tiredness, dizziness, or shortness of breath
Cycle length by itself doesn’t determine irregular periods and you may have one or more signs that your periods are irregular. These signs can also change month to month for many women.
How to get pregnant with irregular periods
Irregular periods don’t spell the end of your natural pregnancy hopes. While some women with irregular periods will need to use fertility treatments, many take steps to get pregnant on their own through lifestyle changes or even tracking ovulation.
Make healthy lifestyle changes
Improving your overall health before pregnancy is important for everyone, but it’s even more crucial for women with irregular periods. These are some yet effective lifestyle changes you can make:
- Quit smoking cigarettes
- Quit consuming alcohol
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Get light to moderate exercise
- Avoid excessive dieting or exercise
- Take a daily multivitamin
- Take folic acid and Coq10 supplements
These changes are affordable, good for your overall well-being, and may help you conceive.
Track your ovulation closely
There are numerous ways to estimate ovulation but irregular periods make it difficult to get accurate estimates. Irregular cycles often cause issues using traditional methods like the basal body temperature method, checking cervical mucus, or the calendar method.
Ovulation predictor kits (OPK) can also be faulty for women with irregular periods and tracking your period alone will not tell you if you’ve ovulated or not. Using Mira’s fertility prediction kit is a more effective way to determine your fertile window. Your daily levels of actual hormone concentrations are measured (with 99% accuracy) to detect when ovulation does (or does not) occur.
Increase frequency of intercourse
It’s common for women to focus on conceiving during their two peak fertility days, but having sex more often can improve your chances of getting pregnant.
To get pregnant fast with irregular periods, have intercourse frequently during your five-to-six-day fertile window. Increasing the frequency of sex can boost your chances of conception.
Reduce stress and anxiety
Stress triggers hormonal imbalances and studies show that even short-term stress and anxiety can cause irregular and missed periods. Reduce stress or anxiety by:
- Learning stress management techniques such as deep breathing or meditation
- Exercising regularly to increase endorphins
- Getting consistent amounts of sleep
- Seeking support through counseling or support groups
What causes irregular periods?
Medical conditions and health issues are the leading causes of irregular menstrual cycles. Some require treatment, but others may resolve on their own. Below are common conditions linked to irregular periods.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition caused by hormonal imbalance that often interferes with menstruation cycles and as a result, cycle regularity. Hormonal imbalances can cause problems in the ovaries when the egg may not develop as it should or may not be released during ovulation as it should.
You may still be able to conceive with PCOS. Medication is sometimes prescribed to help with ovulation and you’ll likely need to see a fertility specialist for monitoring.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that can appear during childbearing years. They are fairly common. Some women have no symptoms while others may experience heavy menstrual bleeding, longer than normal bleeding, pelvic pain, and lower back pain.
The exact cause of fibroids is unknown but genetics and hormones may play a role. Most types of uterine fibroids don’t affect fertility and pregnancy – except submucosal fibroids.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection that occurs when bacteria in the vagina spreads to the female reproductive organs through the cervix. It is usually caused by sexually transmitted infections.
Symptoms can range from non-existent or mild to severe. Common symptoms of PID include:
- abnormal bleeding or discharge
- painful intercourse
- pelvic pain
PID is usually treated with antibiotics but may cause infertility if not addressed. If you have unprotected sex or multiple partners, get tested for STIs regularly to ensure you receive prompt treatment.
Weight-related health problems
Weight can cause irregular periods in many ways. Being either overweight, or underweight can impact your fertility by causing ovulation disruptions and making it harder to get pregnant. Eating disorders, excessive exercise, and excessive weight loss can all cause irregular cycles.
Maintaining a healthy weight helps regulate hormonal balance and you can use an ideal weight calculator to find your target weight range. This can help you set weight loss or weight gain goals for pregnancy.
Ovulation and irregular periods
Ovulation plays an important role in fertility and irregular ovulation is the most common cause of infertility. Irregular periods can signify that you are not ovulating regularly or having anovulatory cycles (cycles where you do not ovulate at all), leading to varying lengths in menstrual cycles.
Ovulation symptoms for irregular periods
An understanding of the signs and symptoms can help you pinpoint ovulation even with irregular periods. Both your cervical mucus and basal body temperature change throughout your cycle and those changes can help you determine when you ovulate:
- Cervical mucus becomes stretchy and clear, like the consistency of an eggwhite
- Basal body temperature (BBT) also fluctuates with the onset of ovulation and tracking this spike lets you know that ovulation is occurring
How to track ovulation with irregular periods
The best way to know for sure if you are ovulating is through hormone tracking and testing. Digital fertility trackers like Mira can determine the exact numerical value of LH and FSH in your urine to predict when you will ovulate with scientific precision. If you can spot the LH and FSH surges in your hormone patterns, you can determine when you are ovulating, even if your ovulation is irregular.
FAQs about irregular periods and pregnancy
We’ve done our best to answer some of your most common questions about irregular periods and pregnancy.
When do I ovulate with irregular periods?
Every woman is different and her cycle (and ovulation) will be different as well. While hard to predict, you can always confirm ovulation through hormone testing and tracking.
How hard is it to get pregnant if I have irregular periods?
Women with regular periods are four times more likely to conceive than women with irregular periods. However, irregular periods don’t automatically mean infertility and with consistent tracking and timed intercourse it’s still very much possible to get pregnant.
When should I have sex to get pregnant with irregular periods?
You have the best chance of conceiving during your fertile window and to know this you’ll need to know when you ovulate. Tracking your cycle and timing intercourse during your fertile window is one of the most important things you can do to boost your odds of conception.
When should I take a pregnancy test with irregular periods?
Ideally you should wait until the first day of your next expected period to take a pregnancy test or at least two weeks after ovulation. With irregular periods that can be difficult if you don’t track your cycle or know when ovulation takes place. Taking a pregnancy test too early (before the two-week wait) can lead to a false-negative result.
Using a product like Mira when you are trying to conceive can help you know when you ovulate by tracking your precise LH levels. Combined with AI personalized cycle prediction, it can help ensure you test at the right time.