Women expect periods to operate like clockwork. In reality, periods don’t behave as expected. What’s considered an irregular period for one, may be common for another. Irregular periods should not be taken lightly. Especially if getting pregnant is on the horizon.
WHAT IS AN IRREGULAR PERIOD?
A regular cycle occurs every 28 days, give or take 7 days. An irregular cycle occurs more frequently than 21 days. Irregular periods can come early, missed, or stay longer than 8 days. Pregnancy, starting or stopping birth control creates erratic periods.
THE EASIEST METHOD TO CHECK FOR AN IRREGULAR PERIOD
A one-off occasion of a late or early period should not cause concern. To check, record the last day of the last period to the first day of the first period. Repeat for at least three months. A significant difference over the timeframe means a possible irregular period. To be safe, schedule an appointment with a gynecologist.
CAN YOU GET PREGNANT WITH AN IRREGULAR PERIOD?
Yes, women can get pregnant with an irregular period. However, the ability to get pregnant decreases significantly. The disadvantage is ovulation becomes difficult to determine. The pregnancy success rate of a healthy woman with a regular cycle is 30%. Studies show this decreases exponentially if periods are off by ten days or more.
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.
THE CAUSES OF IRREGULAR PERIODS YOU MAY BE OVERLOOKING
One of the main causes of an irregular period is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is an imbalance in the hormones controlling the reproductive system. PCOS causes irregular ovulation, cysts on ovaries, bleeding, and infertility. Research shows PCOS cases double miscarraiges and premature deliveries.
OTHER COMMON ISSUES
Thyroid Issues can affect the frequency and timeliness of menstrual cycles. Fibroids, diabetes, and endometriosis are other common reasons for irregular periods. Even sexually transmitted infections can cause irregular or absent periods.
WHAT ABOUT LIFESTYLE?
Lifestyle is another cause of irregular periods. Excessive exercise and dieting can create irregular periods or stop them entirely. High-performance athletes often suffer from irregular periods. Stress, weight gain, and weight loss have adverse effects on the body including your periods.
SHOULD WOMEN WITH IRREGULAR PERIODS PANIC?
Irregular periods are concerning. More so if getting pregnant is on the cards. Missing periods can also be a sign of an underlying medical issue. There’s no need to panic. Take action early. Seek advice from your OB/GYN, as doctors can help increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.