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Health

Pregnancy and Irregular Periods

| 06/17/2022

period products Illustration by Sophi Gullbrants

People often find themselves concerned about pregnancy and irregular periods, specifically whether or not irregularity can cause difficulty with conceiving. Endometriosis, PCOS, and Bartholin’s cysts are all common conditions that affect how a woman’s reproductive system works – especially her ovaries. 

You may have heard that those with these conditions cannot get pregnant, and if they do that they will not have a healthy pregnancy. Although these conditions can affect the chances of getting pregnant, and may require your doctor to regulate you more frequently, it is not impossible to get pregnant with these conditions, and in fact, many women have no problems getting pregnant at all.

We spoke with hormone specialist, Dr Martin Kinsella, to find out more on whether getting pregnant with these conditions is possible, how they may affect fertility and pregnancy, and ways in which you can help to increase your fertility when experiencing these conditions.

Is it possible to get pregnant with irregular periods?

There are a number of different conditions that cause irregular behaviour of the ovaries and irregular menstruation, says Dr Kinsella:

How irregular cycles can play a part in getting pregnant, and difficulties during pregnancy

“For women, PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility,” says Dr Kinsella. The hormonal condition sees women who tend to have high levels of male sex hormones or androgens. Dr Kinsella further explains how PCOS can cause irregular periods and irregular ovulation which is what can make conception more difficult.

Women with PCOS also have a higher likelihood of needing a caesarean delivery because their babies might be larger than expected for their gestational age. But, if you talk things through with your doctor, the risk of these complications can be reduced by monitoring PCOS symptoms and taking extra care during your pregnancy.

Similarly, although endometriosis does not always cause infertility it can prevent pregnancy in a number of ways – by affecting egg quality or by causing adhesions and ovarian cysts that affect fertilisation or implantation, says Dr Kinsella. Pain during sex, caused by endometriosis, can also make it harder to conceive.

Most women who get pregnant with endometriosis will have a regular pregnancy. Your midwife or doctor may decide to monitor you for high blood pressure, as there is a slightly higher than average risk that you will get some bleeding as you get to full term.

Ways to help you increase fertility with irregular cycles

Dr Kinsella explains that there are several ways you can help to increase your fertility when you are suffering with irregular ovaries.

Being a healthy weight, not smoking, reducing your alcohol intake, eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting regular moderate exercise and enough sleep can all help to improve fertility. People with PCOS may find that following an anti-inflammatory diet may help improve their fertility, as can ovulation medications.

If you have made changes to your lifestyle and are still struggling to get pregnant, your doctor might take some fertility tests, and prescribe fertility medication to monitor your cycle and help you ovulate.

If these options don’t work, there are always next steps. Your doctor may perform a laparoscopy to remove tissue, which is common for those who have endometriosis. Or, if all other options have been tried out, in vitro fertilisation, known as IVF, may be suggested – although this can be costly and take a long time.

In many cases, those with PCOS, endometriosis and Bartholin’s cysts are able to have healthy pregnancies by making small lifestyle changes.

 

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