Before beginning to track your cycle for conception, it is important to know whether or not your periods are irregular.
What’s an “irregular period?”
While the occasional irregular cycle is normal, if your period continues to be irregular or you don’t have a period for several weeks, consult your healthcare provider.
How can you tell if it’s irregular
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, plus or minus a week. Periods can be considered irregular if they occur more frequently than every 21 days, less frequently than 35 days, or last longer than 8 days. In order to determine if your period is irregular, use Ovia’s tracker to determine the length and frequency of your menstrual bleeding. If the days between the beginning and end of your period vary significantly, your cycle also might be irregular.
Spotting may also considered part of an irregular cycle, though it is usually completely normal. Spotting is usually identified as a small amount of blood either when you expect your period, when you’re ovulating, during pregnancy, or after sex. Some birth controls can also cause spotting. Consult your healthcare provider if you are spotting or are concerned about an irregular period.
Causes of irregular periods
Many factors can influence the regularity of your cycle, including changes in diet, exercise, stress, birth control, and weight gain or loss, as well as environmental factors — these all cause hormonal shifts that can change your period length. More serious causes of irregularity include polycystic ovary syndrome, other hormone imbalances, sexually transmitted diseases, and uterine fibroids. The most common cause of period irregularity is anovulation, a process in which your body does not ovulate but you still undergo menstrual bleeding.
Although most irregular periods are nothing to worry about, consistently missing or having irregular periods can indicate a more serious medical issue. Most doctors recommend a polycystic ovary screening and a thyroid screening to rule out these illnesses. Irregular cycles can also make conceiving more difficult, especially if you have issues with anovulation, so make sure to consult your healthcare provider if you have consistently irregular periods.
- “Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.” ASRM. American Society for Reproductive Medicine, n.d. Web.
- “How can I track my menstrual cycle.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 4/16/2013. Web.