Can Irregular periods affect pregnancy?

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Arti Sharma
Written by Nikita Tyagi, last updated on 31 October 2022
Can Irregular periods affect pregnancy?
Most women tend to get their periods regularly; however, it is not uncommon to see women with irregular menstrual cycles. Some women may get their periods right on time, while others may face delays or early onset. After all, human bodies don’t function like a machine! 
This article highlights the basic information about irregular periods and enlightens about whether an irregular menstrual cycle affects pregnancy or not!

What is considered to be an Irregular Menstrual cycle?

While the average length of a menstrual cycle is 28 days, anywhere between 21 to 40 days is considered to be a normal menstrual cycle. An irregular menstrual cycle refers to a cycle that falls out of the “normal range.” 
If your periods come early or later than expected, it might indicate an irregular menstrual cycle. 
Keep in mind that it’s normal for your cycle to be a bit shorter or longer than usual. But if you experience these irregularities too often, it’s probably time for you to see a doctor!
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What are the causes of Irregular Periods?

Several factors can cause your menstrual cycle to get all haywire. Common amongst them are:
  1. Puberty
    The body goes through significant changes during puberty. The hormones that control periods can take several years to settle into a consistent pattern, hence it is common to get irregular periods around this time. It becomes hard to predict ovulation and that is why an irregular menstrual cycle can affect pregnancy.
  2. Perimenopause
    The term "perimenopause", translates to "around menopause". It describes the period when your body naturally enters menopause, signalling the end of your reproductive years. Hormone levels start to decline during this time, due to which periods may become increasingly infrequent until they eventually stop occurring altogether. Thus, women undergoing perimenopause can experience irregular periods which can affect pregnancy.
  3. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
    PCOS is a condition of hormonal imbalance that occurs when there’s excessive production of androgens, also known as “male hormones,” in the body. Due to this, women may experience acne and excessive hair growth. Women with PCOS can also develop cysts in their ovaries, leading to irregular menstrual cycles which can affect pregnancy. This irregularity can pose difficulties for women trying to conceive.
  4. Thyroid Disorder
    The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped organ present in your neck. It produces hormones that have numerous functions in the body, the most relevant here being ovulation and menstruation. Women with thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism may experience menstrual irregularities. Hypothyroidism refers to a decrease in the production of thyroid hormones, whereas hyperthyroidism refers to its increase.
  5. Weight
    Weight plays a vital role in the homeostasis of the body’s natural hormones. Being overweight or underweight can result in the disruption of this homeostasis, thus leading to menstrual irregularities. According to research, women with a body mass index of 20 or higher or less than 20 were at least 1.1 times more likely to have irregular periods than women with a BMI of 20 to 25. 
  6. Stress
    Stress is another factor that contributes to menstrual irregularities. When stressed, your body produces cortisol, a hormone that wreaks havoc on the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis.
    Hypothalamus is an area in your brain that regulates your menstrual cycle. It responds to outside influences, including stress, sleep deprivation, and exercise. When your hypothalamus is functioning correctly, it releases chemicals that stimulate your pituitary gland (a gland located in your brain), which in turn, stimulates your ovary to release the hormones– oestrogen and progesterone that govern your menstrual cycle. Hence, stress can cause irregular periods that can further affect pregnancy.

Irregular menstrual cycle and Pregnancy

Having irregular periods can be pretty frustrating, but it gets even worse when trying to conceive!
Will irregular periods affect pregnancy? Keep reading to find out!
It’s possible for women to get pregnant with an irregular menstrual cycle, but it can be challenging. A menstrual cycle starts from bleeding that happens on day one and ends when the bleeding of the next cycle starts. Ovulation– the release of the eggs usually occurs on the 14th day of the normal menstrual cycle (28 days).
Couples who wish to get pregnant can try having sexual intercourse while the woman is ovulating. This period, when the woman is ovulating, is known as the fertile window. The fertile window for most people consists of:
  1. Five days before ovulation
  2. Ovulation day
  3. The day after ovulation. 
But if the menstrual cycle is unpredictable, it becomes hard to determine when the woman is ovulating. That is why having an irregular menstrual cycle can affect pregnancy. 
An irregular menstrual cycle could also indicate irregular ovulation. It’s possible to get periods without ovulation. Usually, this occurs when the uterine lining gets so thick that it becomes unstable and naturally sheds off. The uterine lining thickens due to the unopposed action of estrogen, a hormone responsible for ovulation and thickening of the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to prepare it for pregnancy. 
Ovulation can also occur with no subsequent period-like bleeding. A history of uterine scarring or specific hormonal medications can cause this. 
Since irregular menstruation can affect pregnancy, there are some things you can do to increase the chances of conceiving!

Relationship between Irregular Menstrual cycle and Ovulation

Since irregular periods affect pregnancy, determining your ovulation day should be the key to getting pregnant. And you can do so by tracking ovulation. Look for a:
  1. Change in Cervical Mucus
    A clear, stretchy discharge that resembles egg white when you wipe after using the restroom or on your underwear indicates that ovulation is about to happen. Cervical mucus decreases and gets thicker, cloudy, and less noticeable after ovulation. 
  2. Spike in Basal Body Temperature
    Every morning, take your body temperature with a thermometer and note when it rises. You may have ovulated if you observe a little increase, typically half- to full-degree. 
This technique does not accurately estimate your viable window; it merely indicates that ovulation has previously occurred. But in subsequent cycles, knowing when your body typically ovulates might be helpful.
You can also take the help of ovulation predictor kits. This kit tests for an increase in luteinising hormone, a sign that ovulation is about to occur. A prolonged rise in morning body temperature following a positive ovulation test indicates that a person has most likely ovulated. 
These tests check for the spike in hormones that occurs just before ovulation in your urine. Ovulation occurs around 36 hours after the positive result.

When to worry if you have Irregular Periods?

It is okay to have a slightly irregular menstrual cycle, but you should consult a doctor if:
  1. It's been three or more months since your last period
  2. You have had two periods each month for two to three months
  3. You have painful bleeding
  4. You experience menstrual bleeding for longer than a week
  5. You soak through a pad or tampon every hour or two through your period
  6. If you are less than 35 and have tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant for a year
  7. If you are 35 or older than 35 and have tried unsuccessfully for six months or longer

Wrapping Up

Many women experience an irregular menstrual cycle, which affects pregnancy directly or indirectly, depending upon the cause of menstrual irregularity. Consult with a doctor to find out the reason behind your irregular menstrual cycle. Your doctor will help treat the cause so you can get pregnant and have a healthy baby.
We at HexaHealth, have an excellent team of doctors to help you find a treatment for your irregular periods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I feel period symptoms but no period?

Period symptoms without a period could indicate pregnancy. This is because the early signs of pregnancy are similar to those of periods. For example, cramping as the embryo implants into the uterine lining, breast pain, headaches, exhaustion, etc. Period symptoms with no period can also occur due to thyroid disorders, PCOS, and stress.

Can irregular periods delay pregnancy?

Yes, irregular periods can delay pregnancy since it becomes difficult to determine the day of ovulation. Besides, irregular periods can also occur due to an underlying disease which can make it hard to conceive, such as PCOS, thyroid disorders, etc.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy for irregular periods?

Symptoms of pregnancy for irregular periods are the same as that for women with regular periods. They may include any or all of the following: 
  1. Missed period
  2. Nausea
  3. Swollen, tender breasts
  4. Implantation bleeding
  5. Increased urination
  6. Moodiness
  7. Cramping 
  8. Bloating

Why is it difficult for a woman with irregular periods to get pregnant?

It is difficult for a woman to get pregnant with irregular periods as irregular menstruation affects pregnancy. This is because it becomes challenging to determine the day of ovulation when the woman is most fertile.

How do you fix irregular periods?

You can try fixing your irregular menstrual cycle at home by
  1. Lowering stress, 
  2. Meditation
  3. Yoga
  4. Weight regulation
  5. Exercise regularly
If you are trying to conceive, you should consult a doctor to find out the exact cause of irregular menstruation and get it managed right away! Our expert team of professionals at HexaHealth can help you with the right diagnosis and treatment for your condition! Click here to get in touch!

How many days after your period do you ovulate with irregular periods?

Answer. It is difficult to determine your ovulation day with irregular periods. However, you can use an ovulation detector kit to determine your ovulation day. You might also notice changes in cervical mucus– clear, stretchy, whitish discharge during ovulation. 
Please note: The readings of ovulation detector kits might not always be accurate, so it is best to consult a team of professionals at HexaHealth before using them.

When is a period considered irregular?

A period is considered irregular if it occurs within 20 days or after 40 days of the next menstrual cycle.

How late can my period be without being pregnant?

If you don’t have any underlying disease, you should get your periods within 40 days of your last menstrual cycle, depending upon your typical cycle duration, the average being 28 days.

Why is my period 10 days late but negative pregnancy test?

Your period can be late because of other issues such as:
  1. Ectopic pregnancy
  2. Excessive stress 
  3. Intense workouts 
  4. Diseases like PCOS, thyroid disorders, etc 
  5. Medications like birth control pills, blood pressure medicines
If you have not experienced any of the above issues, wait for a few days and retake the pregnancy test, as the test might come negative due to low levels of pregnancy hormones.

What can delay periods?

Your periods can be delayed because of many reasons, such as:
  1. Pregnancy
  2. Stress
  3. Sudden Weight loss
  4. Being overweight or obese
  5. Contraceptive pills
  6. Too much exercise
  7. PCOS 

Can I conceive naturally with irregular periods?

Yes, you can conceive naturally even though irregular periods affect pregnancy. This is because you might still be able to ovulate; however, it might be challenging to do so without knowing your correct fertile window.

How do I get pregnant with irregular periods?

You can get pregnant with irregular periods by finding out your ovulation day. You can do so by:
  1. Noticing cervical mucus changes
  2. Noting the basal body temperature first thing in the morning
  3. Using ovulation predictor kits to find out your ovulation day

Can I get pregnant with PCOS and no periods?

 You can get pregnant with PCOS since sometimes you might still ovulate, but the chances of that happening are slim.

How do I know when I am ovulating if my periods are irregular?

If your periods are irregular, you can find out your ovulation day by:
  1. Noticing cervical mucus changes
  2. Noting the basal body temperature first thing in the morning
  3. Using ovulation predictor kits

What are the tricks to get pregnant with irregular periods?

As such, there are no tricks to get pregnant with irregular periods as irregular menstrual cycle affects pregnancy, but you can try the following methods:
  1. Find your ovulation day by noticing the changes in cervical mucus or basal body temperature.
  2. Use ovulation predictor kits
  3. Consult a doctor and find out the cause of irregular periods 

How many days after your period do you ovulate with irregular periods?

You usually ovulate 14 days after your first day of periods; however, in case of an irregular cycle, your ovulation day might occur early or late.

What is the fastest way to get pregnant?

 Pregnancy is a natural phenomenon that occurs when both partners are healthy and fertile. Unfortunately, there’s no fastest way to get pregnant. The key is to have sexual intercourse during the fertile window when the woman is ovulating.

Can you still ovulate without a period?

Yes, you can ovulate without a period.

Is it possible to ovulate and not have a period?

Yes, it is possible to ovulate and not have periods. It occurs in women with a history of uterine scarring or using certain medications.

Updated on : 31 October 2022


Dr. Arti Sharma

Dr. Arti Sharma

MBBS, DNB Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Diploma In Cosmetic Gynaecology

8 Years Experience

Dr Arti Sharma is a well-known Obstetrician and Cosmetic Gynaecologist currently associated with Aesthetica Veda in Bengaluru. She has 8 years of experience in Obstetrics and Cosmetic Gynaecology and worked as an expert Obstetrician...View More


Nikita Tyagi

Nikita Tyagi

BPharm (Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University, Hyderabad)

2 Years Experience

An enthusiastic writer with an eye for details and medical correctness. An avid reviewer and publisher. She emphasises authentic information and creates value for the readers. Earlier, she was involved in making ...View More

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