How to get pregnant if you have an irregular menstrual cycle
Are you planning a pregnancy, but have irregular periods? Read about what a fertility expert has to say.
Having a regular period is one sign that your reproductive organs are functioning normally. An important part about menstruation, other than the fact that it provides the body with the hormone estrogen, is that it prepares the body for pregnancy each month.
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long in adults and 21 to 45 days long in teens. However, not every woman has a regular menstrual cycle.
An irregular menstrual cycle or period is common among both teens and adults, and is usually not a problem. Other than the inconvenience of getting a period when you are not expecting it, though, irregular periods can also make getting pregnant harder.
But what women need to know is that it is not impossible to get pregnant with irregular periods – you just need to plan a little bit more.
theAsianparent has talked to Dr. Chieng of Virtus Fertility Centre Singapore about pregnancy and irregular periods.
Dr Chieng is a fertility specialist, and can assist couples (with both male and female infertility) struggling to conceive. His special areas of interest include Male Infertility, Reproductive Microsurgery, Fertility Preservation, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Keep reading for Dr. Chieng's answers to our questions on the next page.
Q: What are the reasons for irregular periods?
A: In addition to infrequent menstruation, irregular periods could mean inter-menstrual bleeding or a prolonged cycle. For all these scenarios, a detailed medical assessment is necessary to diagnose and manage the situation.
Irregular periods can be due to:
- The presence of polyps or fibroids in the female reproductive system
- Certain hormone imbalances in a woman brought on by conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Chronic medical conditions like diabetes or renal failure
Infrequent periods often indicate an ovulation disorder. With proper medical treatment, ovulation can be regulated and pregnancy achieved.
Q: Why does having an irregular period impact a woman’s chance of conceiving?
A: Infrequent or irregular periods indicates issues with ovulation. Ovulation is needed for a woman to release an egg to be fertilised, create an embryo and conceive a pregnancy.
Q: What does a woman with irregular periods need to do prior to trying to conceive?
A: Ideally we would recommend a consultation with a fertility specialist to understand the reason for irregular periods, with the aim to understand the underlying issues, in order to direct the most appropriate treatment.
We believe that frequency of menstruation is enough to achieve spontaneous pregnancy.
Q: Other than medication, what lifestyle changes does a woman have to make if she has irregular periods?
A: Lifestyle factors such as obesity could also give rise to irregular periods, and as such, maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) through diet and exercise is a good start to help if conception is desired.
After an assessment, if there are no other medical issues and a woman still has a high BMI, reducing body weight may assist in regulating menstrual cycle and assisting in conception.
A: These days many women have conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). What are the implications if she is diagnosed with PCOS? Does the treatment change?
A: PCOS is a condition that can cause infrequent ovulation, and as such, irregular periods and/or prolonged cycles. Other symptoms of excessive androgens, which are released in women with PCOS, is acne, facial hair and weight gain.
For treatment of PCOS in women who desire fertility, we usually aim at inducing ovulation through treatment to achieve ovulation and therefore spontaneous pregnancy.
If fertility is not immediately desired, lifestyle modification such as weight loss and exercise will go a long way in reversing the anovulation stage as well as modifying the long term health risks associated with PCOS including coronary heart disease, diabetes and possibly endometrial cancer.
Q: What advice do you have for women with irregular periods who want to conceive?
A: The most important advice is to seek proper medical assessment to identify the underlying cause of the irregular menstrual cycle. An appropriate personalized treatment plan can then be recommended.
Do you have an irregular menstrual cycle? We hope Dr. Roland Chieng's answers will give you some clarity on the subject. Do share your thoughts about this subject by leaving a comment below.