What is the Connection Between Irregular Periods and Pregnancy?

There are several ties between irregular periods and pregnancy, but the question has to be defined better to understand them. One of the most established associations of the two topics is how irregular periods may affect fertility, and there is a negative correlation between period irregularity and successful pregnancy. An additional connection arises because irregular periods can make it hard to identify or suspect pregnancy. Other questions occur if women have bleeding during pregnancy.

There are many different causes of irregularities in the menstrual cycle, but routine unpredictability may make achieving pregnancy difficult. This happens for a few reasons. First, it is harder to predict occurrence of ovulation, which makes it challenging to decide when to try for conception. Second, very long and very short cycles suggest that ovulation isn’t always occurring or there is not sufficient production of certain hormones to sustain an early pregnancy.

It’s true there can be great range in menstrual cycles and all women experience the occasional irregularity. Those women having trouble achieving pregnancy tend to be at greatest disadvantage if they are always irregular. Up to 30-40% of fertility problems are due to this issue. Irregular periods and pregnancy aren’t mutually exclusive, and depending on cause, a number of treatments can be initiated to stabilize the cycle and promote ovulation.

Another scenario involving irregular periods and pregnancy occurs for women not planning conception. Some women have such extremely unpredictable periods that they can easily dismiss the early part of a pregnancy as simply expression of their unusual cycles. This is unfortunate because earlier knowledge of a pregnancy can lead to better prenatal care.

A woman who doesn’t realize she is pregnant probably isn’t taking prenatal vitamins, refraining from alcohol consumption or consuming the extra calories she needs. While many babies that surprise their mothers in this way are born in good health, some aren’t and this might make it important for sexually active women to consider medical care to treat irregular periods, or, at minimum, to keep some sort of calendar on hand. If a period doesn’t occur within three to four weeks of the last sexual encounter, a pregnancy test could be taken. Such measures can help provide good prenatal care from the onset.

One connection some women make between irregular periods and pregnancy occurs if they have continued bleeding while pregnant. Most times, all but the tiniest amount of spotting, are concerning. A few women do have something like irregular periods the first few months of pregnancy.

There are specific guidelines to follow on when to get advice about bleeding. Women should immediately inform doctors of more than a day or two of light spotting, presence of any bleeding that is as heavy or heavier than a menstrual period, and bright red bleeding or very sudden, heavy bleeding. Occasionally, women with a healthy pregnancy experience more bleeding that is similar to irregular periods, but the matter should always be discussed with doctors to ensure fetal and maternal health.

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Post 1

I have a friend who has always had irregular periods. Birth control pills made her sick so she couldn't take them to help regulate her cycle.

She never had real problems getting pregnant, but staying pregnant was something else. She's been pregnant five times and carried two to term. The other three ended in first trimester miscarriages. However, with both her full term pregnancies, she was horribly sick at least through the first five months with both children, and to her seventh month with her son. She was hospitalized twice for fluids because her vomiting had left her so dehydrated. It seems like women who have irregular periods are more prone to these kinds of problems.

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