If you are trying to conceive and you have irregular periods, you're not alone. For many of us, myself included, our periods don't come every 28 days like clockwork. Some women experience periods with a varying number of days between each cycle, making the already onerous chore of tracking your ovulation even more difficult. Because ovulation is key to getting pregnant, you need to know how to track when it occurs. How to determine ovulation if you have irregular periods is actually not as hard as you might think, and there are a ton of methods and testing procedures available to you.
Even if you are never sure how far apart your periods will be, you can still determine when and if you ovulate from clues your body sends out, as well as through over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits, which test for hormones in your urine that correlate to ovulation. The changes in your body that represent your fertile period are present in your cervical mucus — it will resemble egg whites, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It's also possible to track ovulation by keeping a record of your basal body temperature and noting when the dips and spikes are that accompany possible ovulation.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology wrote about how to determine ovulation if you have irregular periods, and they found that the fertility awareness method can be a useful tool in figuring out when or if you ovulate. The fertility awareness method uses a combination of different types of data tracking to identify patterns in your cycle that likely correlate to your ovulation. These include taking a basal body temperature reading every morning upon waking, before you do anything else. The often minute changes in that temperature can signal the shifts in the hormones in your body that occur during ovulation.
The next data tracked by the fertility awareness method is that of your cervical mucus. That's the mucus found inside the vagina near the cervix, and it changes throughout the cycle from nearly dry to slick, wet, and vaguely resembling egg whites in consistency and texture. Ideally, the temperature will dip and then spike as the mucus becomes increasingly viscous and slippery, which is the hallmark of the fertile period of your cycle.
If you don't produce much fluid or if you don't notice a real change in your temperature, that doesn't necessarily mean you aren't ovulating. You may still be producing the luteinizing hormone (LH) unique to ovulation, but not noticing any changes to your body. The best and easiest way to find out if you're producing this hormone and ovulating is through over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits, noted the American Pregnancy Association.
For the first few months, you'll need to start the tests early in your cycle because irregular cycles often mean early ovulation or late ovulation, especially if you've already given birth, according to Fertility and Sterility. The LH surge will happen over a period of 24 to 48 hours, and these tests can predict the peak hormone saturation in your urine, determining when you should have sex if you're trying to conceive, or when to skip it if you're trying to avoid pregnancy. The tests have come down dramatically in price in the past few years, and you can often find them in bulk on Amazon or Drugs.com, and often bundled with pregnancy tests for expediency.
However, while it's possible to determine when and if you ovulate with irregular periods, speaking from personal experience, it's good advice to see your OB-GYN to determine why your periods are irregular. Often, it's just the nature of things, but it's always good to have all of your answers before you go into something as life-altering as having a baby.
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