Menstruation is a fact of life. Ovulation leads to a period (or pregnancy), so, without periods, there can be no pregnancy. The hardest part about trying to conceive for me is trying to get pregnant with irregular periods. Although most women have menstrual cycles that average between twenty-eight and thirty-five days, some women like me have irregular periods. For a woman with a predictable cycle, planning the best few days to try to conceive is fairly easy. But, for me, having irregular and unpredictable periods causes problems trying to conceive.
Trying to get pregnant with irregular periods first means never quite knowing what is going on inside my period. For a woman with a regular twenty-eight day cycle, she can expect to ovulate about half way through her cycle on day fourteen. Fourteen more days later, she can expect her period. Timing conception can be as simple as having sex before, during, and immediately after the expected time of ovulation. With an irregular menstrual cycle, however, trying to get pregnant with irregular periods results in problems trying to conceive because of an uncertain ovulation date. My last cycle was thirty-five days. Today I am on day forty-one with no period in sight. Ovulation could have happened on cycle date twenty-two or cycle day twenty-nine or sometime in between, before, or after. Not knowing an estimated ovulation date means problems trying to conceive!
To compound my problems trying to get pregnant with irregular periods is the birth control pill. Because of dysmenorrhea in addition to irregular periods, I began taking the pill when I was eighteen years old to regulate my cycles and decrease the excruciating pain that accompanied my periods. In preparation for trying to conceive this June, I stopped taking my birth control pills in the middle of April. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of stopping taking the pill is irregular menstrual cycles, which inevitably leads to problems trying to conceive. When my first cycle after the pills was a typical thirty-five days, I thought I was in the clear and ready to start trying to conceive. But, again, here I am on day forty-one without a period and a big fat negative home pregnancy test.
The most important trait to have while trying to get pregnant with irregular periods is patience. Irregular periods do not mean I am not ovulating, just that I am ovulating irregularly. Having patience will help me relax while trying to conceive, which will hopefully result in a bundle of joy sooner than later. Trying to get pregnant with irregular periods also means having sex more than just the few days around an expected ovulation date, something that certainly does not make the husband unhappy! In the meanwhile, I have also scheduled an appointment with my nurse practitioner just to check things out. Plus, once I have that positive test in hand, trying to get pregnant with irregular periods will be that more rewarding.
Update: Even after the birth of my daughter, my cycles have remained irregular. Due to lactational amenorrhea, my first postpartum period did not arrive until almost seventeen months postpartum. Since that time, my cycles have remained irregular in length. I have found that charting my cervical fluids helps me get a better handle on my body. I highly recommend the Fertility Awareness Method to any woman with irregular cycles.
Originally written on July 4, 2010
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