Most women are well familiar with the normal struggle of a menstrual period. It always seems to fall at the worst possible time – like when you have a tropical vacation planned with your other half. But most do not realize how much worse it can be when their period is irregular. Your body can surprise you at the most inconvenient times with spontaneous shedding of your uterine wall. What fun! And when the time comes for family planning, it gets even worse.
Tracking ovulation with irregular periods can seem like a task and a half. Before you start freaking out, there are some things you should know.
Even though your cycle may seem to be off its hinges, it probably still functions in the same way the average woman’s cycle does. It may just be the timing that is off. Start by using an ovulation calculator and monitor how closely its predictions align with your actual cycle. Alternatively, create a chart of your cycle. You may even notice a pattern that will make it easier to track future months. Maybe you do have a cycle that runs like clockwork, but it is just set to a different time than most. Even if your cycles track all over the place, you can still figure out when you are ovulating for the best chance of pregnancy.
Aside from using an ovulation calculator, most women can also track ovulation by paying attention to their cervical mucus. The concept may seem off-putting at first, but you will soon get over that. When you are ovulating, your cervical mucus will change. During the first few days after your cycle, it will be dry. Then, it will slowly start to increase in volume. As ovulation approaches, you will begin to notice that your cervical mucus will increase and become slippery and stretchy. At the point of ovulation, many women liken its consistency to that of egg whites.
You may also track ovulation by charting your basal body temperature. Take your temperature first thing in the morning, every morning, and keep a log. It helps to keep the chart along with a digital thermometer on your nightstand so you do not forget. There will be a small spike in your basal body temperature once you have ovulated.
Ovulation prediction kits are another way to track ovulation. Some couples find this to be the easiest method, but it is also the most expensive. With this method, you will test your urine every day of the month. When your levels of luteinizing hormone spike, you will get a positive result on the test, and you will be in your most fertile time of your cycle.
There are many things that impact fertility, but the odds are good that a healthy, fertile female with an irregular cycle will become pregnant within one year of trying. However, there is one thing you should keep in mind as you are tracking your cycle. Women with irregular cycles may be more likely to suffer from a Luteal Phase defect. This occurs when there are consistently fewer than 10 days between ovulation and a menstrual period. If you find that this is the case for you, talk to your doctor right away. There are tests and treatments that he or she will likely recommend.