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What is the Connection Between Irregular Periods and Ovulation?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Many women who are trying to conceive keep track of their menstrual cycle in order to find out when they are ovulating. This can ensure that they have intercourse on the correct days each month. Having a regular period that comes at about the same time every month usually makes this task possible, which is why many women worry that irregular periods and ovulation do not mix when it comes to getting pregnant. The connection between irregular periods and ovulation is such that it may be more difficult to decide when to have intercourse, but it does not always mean that getting pregnant will be impossible, or even less likely.

A menstrual cycle that is longer than 36 days and shorter than 21 is often called irregular. A woman whose cycle fluctuates in length by several days each month is also considered to be having irregular periods. Some women only experience this fluctuation occasionally, which is normal, since changes like sudden stress and increased exercise can alter the cycle length. If the periods are irregular for several months in a row, however, and for no apparent reason, it may be time to see a doctor to find out why.

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Some women who experience irregular periods still know when they are ovulating, even though the cycle day changes every month. This is because they know the ovulation symptoms to watch out for, such as thick, clear cervical mucus, increased sex drive, abdominal pain on one side, and an increased basal body temperature just after these symptoms start to wane. Such women may not find a negative correlation between irregular periods and ovulation since the cycle day of the egg release can still be observed.

On the other hand, women with consistently long cycles may find that they are not ovulating at all, as long cycles can be an indication of anovulation. Others with longer cycles may experience all the symptoms of ovulation, but since their cycles are so lengthy, they do not ovulate as often as most women do. Over several months, this may make a difference in whether they get pregnant or not. Women with short cycles may find that they ovulate more often than most women, but the fertilized egg may get flushed out before it can implant, since menstruation starts sooner than it should.

While the connection between irregular periods and ovulation is such that it may be more difficult to get pregnant, it can also be harder to detect pregnancy when it does occur. This is especially true for women who are not trying to conceive. Women who do not know when to expect their period may not realize when it is late, which can lead to them not finding out about the pregnancy soon enough to start getting prenatal care right away, or stopping habits like drinking and smoking. Therefore, seeing a doctor to find out more about the tie between irregular periods and ovulation is often advised.

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