Your period can be an important indicator of your health. However, it’s sometimes hard to know when you should visit a doctor about it. Here we talk about what an ‘irregular period’ is and when and how to speak to your doctor about it.
What are ‘irregular periods’?
Irregular periods are when the length of your menstrual cycle (the gap between your periods starting) keeps changing, meaning they could be coming early or late. This is normal when you’re going through puberty, but once the menstrual cycle is more established it is thought to be irregular if:
- A cycle is shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days
- You have fewer than 8 cycles per year
- You have a cycle longer than 90 days
What causes irregular periods?
There are a number of causes of irregular periods including lifestyle changes, diet changes and any medication you may be taking. Often, it isn’t anything to worry about, but it’s worth discussing with your doctor to find out what the cause might be. Some possible causes of irregular periods are:
- PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
- Extreme weight loss or weight gain
- Excessive exercise or stress
- Certain medical conditions (like thyroid conditions)
- The start of the menopause
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s)
How do you treat irregular periods?
The treatment for irregular periods will depend on the cause, so you might want to visit your GP who can perform an assessment and arrange for any tests that might be recommended. Treatments might include lifestyle changes, medication to help regulate your cycle or medication to induce ovulation.
Irregular periods and trying to conceive
It can sometimes be difficult to get pregnant if you have irregular periods because you might not ovulate regularly. Ovulation predictor kits can be helpful when trying to identify when ovulation occurs, however, with irregular periods, particularly those that are longer, you will probably have to do more testing month to month. If you know that you’re ovulating, then the Béa Treatment could be a good treatment option. The Béa Applicator needs to be used around the time of ovulation for the best chances of getting pregnant. You should use the ovulation tests that you know and trust to track your cycle. In general, you should start ovulation testing 17 days before your next period is due and continue taking them until you have a positive reading. With irregular periods, it can be difficult to gauge when to start ovulation testing. Check the shortest cycle you've had in the past 6 months and base your testing on that cycle length!
Once you have a positive ovulation test you should use the Béa Applicator. That way – the sperm will be in place by the time you ovulate! The Béa Applicator is designed to deliver sperm to the cervix, giving sperm a better chance of getting to the fallopian tube with our custom cervical cap.
Visiting your doctor about irregular periods and fertility
If you’re not able to detect ovulation during multiple menstrual cycles, then you might need medical support in order to conceive. It can feel a bit uncomfortable to visit your GP about your period, but it’s important to seek help if you think there’s something wrong. You might be referred to a specialist for further investigations or treatment. Alternative treatment options that might be recommended include ovulation induction or in vitro fertilisation.
If you’re not sure what to discuss with your GP – read our article How to speak with your doctor about fertility for support.