Fertility Advice Irregular Periods

Women who have irregular periods – that is a cycle that is shorted than 21 days, or longer than 36 days – often need special fertility advice. Whether trying to conceive, or hoping to avoid conception, irregular menstrual cycles pose a challenge. The main difficulty with irregular menstruation is that ovulation – the release of a healthy egg from the ovary – cannot be predicted.

Whether trying to get pregnant or not it is always worth getting an irregular period checked out to see if there is a serious reason why menstruation is being altered. So a visit to the GP or even a specialist gynecologist should be made just to rule out any over-riding health complication that should be dealt with.

Women with irregular periods, who are trying to conceive, should know that the irregular period will not stop them conceiving. Irregularity can actually increase the chances of conception if there are more than 12 cycles a year. If however the irregularity creates big gaps in the cycles, or makes long cycles, then chances of conception are reduced: there are simply fewer ovulation events occurring.

Knowing when ovulation is occurring is the key to conception, so those with irregular periods should try and monitor when this happens to make sure that they do not miss a chance for conception! This can be done by examining cervical mucus or taking body temperature readings and noting changes. There are also ovulation predictor kits that can help.

If after 1 year of attempting to get pregnant conception has not been successful then women under 35 are encouraged to seek help, while women over 35 years are encouraged to seek fertility advice if there has been no success after 6 months.

Fertility advice may involve establishing if there is a cause for reduced ovulation – such as being underweight or training too hard for a sporting event. A certain amount of body fat is needed for conception and diet may need to be changed or exercise patterns reduced. Women who are overweight can also experience trouble with conception since obesity affects chemical signals in the body that can cause periods to stop. These women may need to engage in a gradual weight loss program before their ovulation can be restored.

Women who are over 35 experiencing irregular cycles where the length of cycle is generally increased, are candidates for drug therapy that can help regulate ovulation. There are various drugs about like Clomid to help with making the cycle more regular (see How Stuff Works). Regulating the cycle simply restores the “normal” rate of ovulation and hence chance of conceiving.

In the event that a woman is unable to conceive counselling services are recommended to assist with the grief and emotions that will be experienced from the medical situation. It is also worth ensuring that the fertility problem does not lie with the partner before resigning to infertility.