If you have an irregular period, you may have a lot of questions regarding an unexpected pregnancy. How far along are you into the pregnancy? When could you have conceived? Before making a pregnancy decision, having these pieces of information can be very helpful. However, the typical methods of attaining this information may not be as applicable to those with an irregular cycle. So what should you do to figure out your pregnancy’s age and when you may be ovulating if your menstrual cycle is irregular?
Attempting to determine the gestational age of your pregnancy and periods of fertility can be hard, especially if you have an irregular cycle. That’s why Avenue Women’s Center is here to take some of the stress away. Our six DuPage County centers provide you with unexpected pregnancy support and ensuring you have access to reliable information. After taking one of our free, medical-grade pregnancy tests, receive answers to your questions in a private consultation. We understand there may be a lot of confusion, and we’re here to offer support in any way we can.
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What Makes a Menstrual Cycle “Abnormal”?
Menstrual cycles varying in length are not as uncommon as one might think. Sometimes a woman’s period may last 28 days – which is usually considered average – only to be 31 days or 27 days the next month. Despite the inconsistency, this is generally still considered to be normal.
Your period may be considered irregular if it’s shorter than 21 days or longer than 35. Even if you do not menstruate on a predictable schedule, this does not necessarily mean you’re infertile. It’s still possible for you to become pregnant, but it may just be a little more difficult for you.
This can make it hard to know when you are ovulating and are at risk of pregnancy. Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from your ovary and is ready to be fertilized after being pushed into the fallopian tube. The timeframe during which you are most fertile usually occurs a few days before ovulation and also on the day you ovulate. This is generally when your body is able to conceive. But your menstrual cycle might make it harder to determine when you’re within your fertility period.
If you’re concerned about an unexpected pregnancy and are curious about possible ways to reduce the chances of one in the future, there are a few methods for tracking ovulation with irregular periods.
Tracking Ovulation With an Irregular Period
Some of the approaches used to track ovulation with an irregular period may be found within the Fertility Awareness and Natural Family Planning birth control methods. While nothing is absolute, you may find these strategies helpful for acclimating yourself to your body’s natural rhythms and cycles so you can have a better idea about when you may be fertile. Aspects such as charting your cycle, and monitoring cervical mucous and basal body temperature are all components to these methods.
Pregnancy and Your Period
Since the precise moment of conception is generally not known, how far along you may be in pregnancy is usually decided by the first day of your last menstrual cycle. But an irregular period can make it challenging to calculate the gestational age of your pregnancy.
For women who cannot use this method to determine how far they have progressed in their pregnancy, an ultrasound exam may be required. This is usually the most accurate method for determining gestational age in early pregnancy. It can typically be measured as early as 5 or 6 weeks after LMP.
Depending on the reason for your irregular periods, there may or may not be an increased risk for early pregnancy complications. Certain conditions may interfere with menstruation. This means an ultrasound appointment can help rule out the possibility of a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. If either of these should occur, reach out to a medical professional for the next steps.
Finding answers to questions about ovulation and gestational age can be a challenge to track down. Avenue understands this, and we’re here to operate as a dependable source of care and support throughout your unexpected pregnancy. If you’re in the midst of a pregnancy decision, we can provide you with information regarding your pregnancy and the options available to you.
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- American Pregnancy Association. Tracking Ovulation With Irregular Periods. Retrieved from: https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/track-ovulation-irregular-periods/
- Healthline. (2018, September). Getting Pregnant with Irregular Periods: What to Expect. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/irregular-periods-and-pregnancy
Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.
The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.