Irregular periods can make you incredibly anxious especially when you are sexually active. An abnormal period is immediately considered as an indication of pregnancy which can become a worry if you haven’t planned on being pregnant. On the other hand, women planning on being pregnant might think of irregular periods as a sign of a fertility complication. They best way to ease your anxiety in such a situation is to learn to differentiate between irregular periods and pregnancy.
Symptoms & Causes of Irregular Periods
A menstrual period is that time of the month when the uterus or the womb starts to shed its lining resulting in vaginal bleeding. Periods are different from person to person. They can be unpredictable for some and pretty regular for others. Normally, the period occurs after every 21 to 35 days and lasts for up to 5 days.
Different types of irregular periods are:
- Oligomenorrhea means periods that are infrequent. Time period between successive periods is around 35 days. Less than six to eight periods throughout a year.
- Metrorrhagia means frequently occurring irregular periods.
- Menometrorrhagia means frequently occurring irregular periods that are both heavier and longer.
- Amenorrhea means not having a period for over six months or more.
Irregular periods have the following common symptoms:
- Skipped period
- Early of late periods
- Blood flow changes
- Lengthened or shortened cycle
Causes of irregular periods are:
- Uterine fibroids
- Polyps on or thickening of the uterine lining
- Too much exercise
- Asherman syndrome, scarring on uterus lining
- Breastfeed and pregnancy
- Polycystic ovary disease (PCOS)
- Use of certain medicines or changing birth control pills
- Using an intrauterine device (IUD) Irregular Periods and Pregnancy
- Iregular periods and pregnancy don't go well together, but here's how to get pregnant with irregular period:
How Do I Know I'm Pregnanct with Irregular Period?
Women with normal period cycles don’t have any problem in knowing when they are pregnant as they know that when they miss one or two periods. However, for women with irregular cycles, it might not be that easy.
Taking a home pregnancy test is the easiest way for finding out about pregnancy. A much better idea is to consult with a gynecologist and have a blood test to check if your blood contains any pregnant hormones.
The following are a few common early pregnancy symptoms for you to look for while you are waiting for an appointment with your gynecologist.
1. Morning Sickness
Morning sickness is one of the symptoms that accompany irregular periods and pregnancy. You start feeling nauseous between the 2nd and 8th week of pregnancy. It can be due to food poisoning as well but if it’s not then it is pregnancy test time.
2. Swollen or Tender Breasts
You might start to feel that your breasts have become swollen or feel sore and tender during the 1st and 2nd week of pregnancy. This symptom can also be caused by a number of other reasons such as PMS, birth control pills and even hormonal problems.
Another common symptom is sleepiness and extreme fatigue. Even in the first week of pregnancy, you are going to start feeling more tired than you were ever before. The tiredness and fatigue might also be a symptom of flu or just an indication that you are very tired after a hard day’s work.
4. Implantation Bleeding
Implantation bleeding is the earliest signs that you are expecting. You might experience it at as early as 6 to 12 days after becoming pregnant. Implantation bleeding occurs because of the embryo implanting itself into the uterine wall. The bleeding that occurs might have a pinkish or brownish tinge to it and might even be black.
5. Frequent Urination
You can start experiencing increase thirst and the urge to urinate frequently after around 6 to 8 weeks of conception. However, this symptom is not easy to spot as you might see it as a result of drinking a lot or having a urinary tract infection. Check for pregnancy if you don’t have these problems.
6. Darkening Areolas
For women with irregular periods and pregnancy occurs, it is common to have darkened areolas during the early stages of conception. You might see an increase in the areola diameter as well. If you are pregnant then the skin of your areolas and nipples will become thicker too.
7. Food Cravings or Aversions
Food cravings or aversions are one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy. Some women lose their appetite for certain foods like meat while others start to crave for some foods. The cravings might be lacking of certain nutrients or byproduct of stress.
Bloating caused by hormonal imbalances is among the earliest signs of pregnancy. With the estrogen and progesterone levels rising, the uterus lining thickens and causes you to feel bloated. Do remember that bloating can occur because of PMS too but pregnancy bloating is usually quite exaggerated.
9. Vaginal Discharge
Women usually have an increment in cervical mucus at the time of ovulation. This mucus dries up after ovulation and remains that way for the rest of the cycle. However, women begin secreting excess cervical fluid due to increase in estrogen levels during pregnancy.
10. Mood Swings
Mood swings are a classic symptom of PMS, however, they are common in pregnancy too. The difference is that during pregnancy the mood swings tend to become teary and you feel like crying a lot instead of becoming angry. Thus, it’s important to have a tissue-box close by during these mood swings.