Sometimes, it seems like getting pregnant must be the easiest thing, but that's not always the case. Many times, it's not until you start trying to conceive that you become hyper aware of your body, your cycle, and how that might affect your chances of conception. Other times, you might notice some slight changes that seem to be affected by trying to conceive. Like, has your period always been irregular, or can trying to conceive cause irregular periods? Experts say there are actually other factors to consider.
"Trying to conceive does not typically cause irregular periods," Dr. Adrienne Zertuche, MD, MPH, OB-GYN and Georgia Maternal and Infant Health Research Group President, tells Romper. "However," she continues, "in the rare circumstance of a 'chemical pregnancy,' or an early pregnancy failure, it might seem like your cycle is later, heavier, or longer than usual."
Chemical pregnancies, according to the American Pregnancy Association, may account for 50 to 75 percent of all miscarriages. A chemical pregnancy occurs when a pregnancy is lost shortly after implantation, resulting in bleeding that occurs around the time of your expected period. In fact, you might not have even realized you conceived when you experience a chemical pregnancy. Because the bleeding of a chemical pregnancy varies, you could mistake it for a late or irregular period.
Irregular periods can be brought on by a few other things, noted Glamour, including hormone imbalances (your OB-GYN might check for thyroid or pituitary dysfunction). Polycystic ovaries are another common cause of irregularity, but this is unlikely if you had regular periods without birth control. If you've always been on birth control while sexually active, having your ovaries checked might be a good next step. Drastic weight gain or loss and excess stress can all contribute to irregularity during your cycles, as well as emotional stress, like constantly worrying if you're ever going to conceive.
Before you start freaking out, make sure your definition of "regular" is on par with your doctor's. You might think you're not regular if your cycle is off by a few days, but most women's cycles are not perfect every month. When your doctor asks if you have regular periods, she's likely just making sure it's within the same range each month, and not every two weeks or every two months.
An irregular or infrequent period is going to reduce the number of opportunities that there are for you to get pregnant, noted Cosmopolitan, which can be really frustrating. You may need to take some extra time to understand your cycle so you can be better aware of the optimal time for you to try to get pregnant. You may also be able to take steps in order to help regulate your cycle.
If you're concerned about trying to conceive while your period is seemingly irregular, there are a few tools that can help you out. According to the American Pregnancy Association, charting your cycle, keeping an eye on your cervical mucus and basal body temperature, and using ovulation predictor kits can all give you a better idea of when you are about to ovulate. While tracking your cycle, you may even realize that your period is within the average range of normal.
"If you are trying to get pregnant and you are not having regular periods," Zertuche tells Romper, "you should see your gynecologist to discuss evaluation and treatment." It's best to rule out any possible complications, particularly as you get close to conception.
Trying to conceive is not always an easy process, and many times irregularities may be nothing. In the case that they are a sign of a health-related issue, it's always better to be proactive. Keep your doctor in the loop with anything that comes up while you try to conceive — they can recommend you the best approaches moving forward.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.