Let's look at irregular periods and how they affect women. A healthy pregnancy can still occur despite menstrual irregularities, but it may be difficult for some women. If you are experiencing an irregular menstrual cycle, know that it is extremely common, but that doesn’t make it normal. Let's dive into an irregular menstrual period, how thyroid issues affect you, and what cancers might be involved.
What is an Irregular Period?
Irregular periods are bleeding that occurs at intervals less than every 21 days or greater than every 35 days. Women may have irregular periods occasionally that may be normal. However, if you have irregular periods regularly, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition. Some common causes of irregular periods include PCOS, underfueling, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and thyroid disorders.
If you're concerned about irregular periods, talk to your doctor to find the underlying cause. In some cases, the cause of irregular periods can also cause infertility. However, many other factors can affect fertility, so it's important to talk to your doctor if you're concerned about your fertility. Irregular periods are an excellent gauge of female health, so if there is an irregular pattern, digging deeper is important.
The thyroid hormones play an important role in regulating the menstrual cycle. An imbalance in these hormone levels can lead to irregular periods.
Cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle, and the thickness and amount of mucus can vary during different phases of the menstrual cycle. An imbalance in hormones can affect the quality and quantity of mucus, leading to a greater risk of infertility.
What is Irregular Ovulation?
Many women with irregular ovulation can still conceive without any medical intervention. However, if you have been trying to conceive for over a year without success, it may be time to see a fertility specialist. There are many underlying causes of irregular ovulation, and a fertility specialist can help you determine if an underlying cause needs to be treated to induce ovulation. In some cases, menstrual cycle regularization can be as simple as taking a daily supplement of folic acid. However, other causes may require more invasive treatments such as medication or surgery. The best way to determine the cause of your irregular ovulation is to consult with a fertility specialist.
Irregular ovulation is the most common cause of Infertility, and it can be caused by various underlying conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disorders, and premature menopause. If you have infrequent periods, your doctor may recommend diet and lifestyle changes or medications to induce ovulation or treat the underlying condition. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to restore fertility.
More About Ovulation Problems.
If you have infrequent periods, it doesn't necessarily mean you're infertile or cannot have children. There are many different ovulation problems that women might endure, resulting in infrequent periods. Some of these include poor nutrition or underfueling, damaged or blocked fallopian tubes, uterine lining problems, pituitary gland tumors, and thyroid disorders. Some of these conditions can be treated with lifestyle changes, diet changes, medication or surgery. However, some may require seeking out an infertility specialist in order to conceive.
There are several ways to monitor ovulation. This will improve your chances of conceiving, or possibly avoid conception depending on your goals. Here are some tips on ovulation:
- Track your cycle. This is the single most important thing you can do as a woman to monitor your ovarian and your overall health.
- Have sex regularly: This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to conceive. Having sex every other day during your fertile window will give you the best chance of conceiving.
- Monitor your basal body temperature: Your basal body temperature is your lowest temperature in a 24-hour period. You can monitor this by taking your temperature first thing in the morning before you get out of bed with a special thermometer. When you see an uptick in temperature, ovulation has occurred. Monitor monthly and you will be able to predict the few days before that and give you the greatest chances to conceive or avoid conceiving.
- Use an ovulation predictor kit: These kits measure when your ovulating time frame should occur.
Do Irregular Menstrual Cycles mean Infertility?
There is a common misconception that irregular periods mean Infertility, but this is not always the case. Irregular periods can be caused by many factors, including weight gain or loss, stress, and certain medications. While irregular periods may make it more difficult to conceive, they do not necessarily mean that you are unable to have children. If you are concerned about your fertility, speak with your doctor about ways to increase your chances of conceiving.
There are two main types of irregular menstrual cycles: anovulatory and ovulatory. Anovulatory cycles occur when the ovaries do not release an egg during the cycle. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is a condition that affects the hormones involved in ovulation. Ovulatory cycles, on the other hand, occur when the ovaries release an egg, but it is not fertilized. This can be due to various factors, such as luteinizing hormone (LH) levels that are too low or a condition called premature ovarian insufficiency (POI).
What Lifestyle Factors Affect Irregular Periods?
There are a lot of myths out there about irregular periods and infertility. The first thing to know is that you can have irregular periods and still be fertile. Birth control pills can cause irregularity in your periods, however they inhibit ovulation and you will not be able to conceive. So if you're trying to get pregnant, understanding the root cause of your irregular periods is important.
A few lifestyle changes can take a toll on your menstrual cycle. One of the most common is stress. If you're constantly stressed out, it can lead to longer or shorter cycles or skipped periods. Another factor is undereating or underfueling. If you are exercising but not fueling that exercise properly, you can affect your hormone production of estrogen and progesterone. If your periods become irregular, this is a late sign that you have likely been underfueling.
Are There Menstrual Cycle Disorders?
There are different menstrual cycle disorders, but the most common is anovulation. This is when ovulation doesn't occur or is irregular. Hormone imbalances can cause anovulation. If anovulation becomes chronic this is when it can lead to fertility problems.
More About Anovulation.
Anovulation is a menstrual disorder characterized by the absence of ovulation. Hormone imbalances or other menstrual disorders can cause this. The symptoms of anovulation include irregular periods, missed periods, and light irregular bleeding. Anovulation is not necessarily indicative of infertility, but it can make it more difficult to become pregnant.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Many menstrual disorders can cause irregular periods, but one of the most common is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormone imbalance that can interfere with normal ovulation, leading to fertility problems. While there is no cure for PCOS, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms and improve your chances of getting pregnant. If you're concerned about your fertility, talk to your doctor about whether PCOS might be a factor. They can order tests to confirm the diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that's right for you.
Irregular periods are common in women with PCOS. It does not necessarily mean you are infertile if you have irregular periods. However, irregular periods can make it more difficult to become pregnant if you are trying to conceive. Treatments available can help regulate your menstrual cycle and improve your chances of becoming pregnant.
Women with PCOS may have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic conditions, clots, and endometrial cancer. If you have PCOS and are concerned about your risk of cancer, speak with your healthcare provider. They can help you understand your risks and what steps you can take to reduce them. PCOS is a complex condition, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. Working with a healthcare provider familiar with PCOS can help ensure you receive the best care possible.
Can it cause Endometrial Cancer?
Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the uterus, and PCOS can increase the risk of this cancer. If you have PCOS, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider about your risk factors for cancer and how to reduce your risk.
Do Birth Control Pills induce pregnancy complications?
Birth control pills stop ovulation, thus preventing pregnancy. When taken as prescribed, they are extremely effective. However, if pregnancy does occur, studies show that birth control pills will likely not increase the risk of pregnancy complications. Birth control pills can sometimes cause irregular periods, but this is not always the case. Using birth control pills does not mean that you will experience infertility after you stop them. Most women regain normal menstrual cycles within six months of stopping. If you started birth control to help with premenstrual symptoms then consider discussing this with your physician before stopping. At Index Health, our team helps to provide a personalized care plan tailored to address underlying root causes for clinical conditions like PCOS.
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Key Takeaways From Irregular Menstrual Cycles.
Whether you have heavy periods on a regular cycle or are irregular, managing and keeping track of your period is important. Physical activity is a natural buffer for premenstrual symptoms. Be mindful that hormone imbalances can increase the risk of other medical conditions. Make sure to balance your hormones correctly, or find someone who can help, and get medical evaluations done frequently.