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7 Common Questions About Your Period: Answered!

calendarJuly 26, 2016
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Why is my period irregular

The menstrual cycle is an unknown territory for many women, although some have been having it for years already.

Given how easily it’s influenced by certain factors such as stress, many women ask a variety of questions about their menstrual cycle: Why is my period irregular? When do I ovulate? Am I fertile during my period? Is it possible to get pregnant while on your period?

You’ve certainly had asked these questions yourself at some point. But these are just a few questions women ask about their period. We’ve listed the most common questions and their answers below.

1. Does Getting My Period Means I’m Fertile?

Technically yes, but this is not always the case. If your periods are regular and come 21 to 35 days apart, then your reproductive tract is probably fine, and so you’re fertile. However, if your menstrual cycle is shorter or longer, then you may have thyroid or pituitary dysfunction, which may interfere with fertilization and pregnancy. Both conditions can be diagnosed through specialized blood tests were taken on day three of your period.

Scarring of the fallopian tubes may also hinder your efforts of conceiving. In this case, you may get your period regularly, but still be unable to get pregnant. Scarring usually occurs as a result of pelvic surgery, pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis. Another possibility would be tubal blockage, which can be identified with a special X-ray of the fallopian tubes. Fortunately, there are several surgical procedures that can be used to clean the path and restore your fallopian tubes back to normal.

Uterine anomalies such as polyps, septum or fibroids can result in the inability to conceive until surgically removed. Your period may come regularly even if you have these anomalies. Except for super heavy menstruations or miscarriage, these anomalies won’t cause any trouble. However, it’s safer to have them removed to avoid any potential issues.

Read also: Can You Get Pregnant During Your Period?

2. Why Is My Menstrual Cycle Irregular?

Many women have irregular periods – in other words, periods that start either too early or too late. Irregular periods are due to irregular ovulation. Teenage girls usually have irregular periods due to continual hormonal changes. It takes a few years until their period becomes more regular. If your periods are normally regular, but have started becoming a little irregular over the past few months, one predominant cause may be stress. Other potential reasons include lifestyle changes (including diet changes), exercising and traveling.

As a matter of fact, many women think of their menstrual cycle as not regular if it doesn’t come on the same day of the month, every month (e.g. 6 August, 6 September etc). Keep in mind that, even if your period is regular, it won’t come on the same day of the month, every month. If you have a 28-day menstrual cycle, then you’ll get your period 28 days later after your last period started (e.g. if your last period started on 1 August, your next one will start on 28 August, and the next one will start on 25 September etc). But since your period starts every 28 days, then it’s regular.

Some women fail to accurately remember when their last period started. This is common and can easily happen to anyone. To avoid this, keep a menstrual calendar, or write down the days your period starts every month to keep track of it more accurately.

Other reasons for irregular periods are eating disorders, excessive weight gain or loss, hormonal problems, and strenuous exercise.

Read also: Can You Get Pregnant Right After Your Period? Yes – or No?

3. If I Get My Period, Is There a Chance I May be Pregnant?

Yes.

There is this misconception that, if your period comes, then you surely aren’t pregnant. While this is oftentimes true, there’s still a slight chance to be pregnant even if your period is timely. Between days 7 and 14 of your menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus thickens in expectation of a fertilized egg to embed there. On day 14, hormone levels reach their peak, causing the follicle to burst and release the egg, which travels down the fallopian tubes to the uterus. If fertilization occurs, and the egg unites with a sperm cell, then it will continue traveling through the fallopian tubes to the uterus, where it attaches to the inner lining and starts to develop. After implantation, your body starts producing hCG, which stops your monthly period.

If fertilization does not occur, then hormone levels decrease around day 25, which signals your body to start the next period. The thickened uterine tissue is shed from the body along with the egg. There is the possibility to get your period even if fertilization occurred. If you conceived a few days before your period, then hCG levels may not be high enough to stop your period, and hence you’ll get it during the first month of pregnancy.

Before you jump to conclusions, make sure the blood you’re seeing is your period. Implantation bleeding usually occurs around the time your period is due to come, but is much lighter and lasts for a few minutes to 1-2 days. If you start bleeding, pay attention to whether it progresses as a regular period. If it lasts for longer than 3 days, then it’s likely your period. You can take a pregnancy test to make sure you are (or not) pregnant. Since these tests measure the levels of hCG in your urine, neither the blood nor increased estrogen levels will interfere with the testing.

Read also: Can You Get Pregnant Right Before Your Period? The Expert Answers: No.

4. Why Do I Have Period Cramps While Pregnant?

Why do I have period cramps while pregnant?Why do I have period cramps while pregnant?

For many women, pregnancy symptoms and premenstrual symptoms (PMS) can be fairly similar: stomach cramps, back pain, frequent urination, nausea, and breast tenderness. You will usually start experiencing these a few days up to one week before your period is due to come, and probably 1-2 days after it has arrived, and throughout the entire course of your pregnancy. If you’re unsure if you’re getting your period or you’re actually pregnant, the easiest way is to wait and see if your period comes on time. If not, then take a home pregnancy test, then confirm the results with a blood test, as they’re more accurate, quick, and the error margin is minimal.

5. Can You Get Pregnant While on Your Period?

Yes, although it’s very unlikely to happen.

As you probably know already, the average length of a woman’s menstrual cycle is between 25 and 35 days. It can be 27, 28, 32 or even 35 days. Normally, ovulation occurs between days 14-16 of your menstrual cycle, or two weeks after your last period has started. Sperm cells can live an average of 5-6 days. If you have sex on the last day of your period (around day 5-6), then the sperm cells may still be hanging around on day 10 or 12, ready to fertilize the egg. However, fertilization occurs between days 14-16, so the sperm cells will die until the egg is released.

What if your menstrual cycle is shorter than 25 days? If you have a 22-day menstrual cycle, then you may ovulate just a few days after your period ends. If you conceive during your period, sperm cells may be hanging around the day you ovulate, possibly fertilizing the egg and leading to pregnancy. The chances for this to happen are quite high if your menstrual cycle is shorter than 23 days.

Make sure you haven’t mistaken the bleeding for your period. Many women experience spotting around the time they ovulate, confusing it with their period. You may think you had your period when you conceived, when, in fact, you were ovulating, and hence you were very fertile and likely to get pregnant. The same goes for postcoital bleeding, which happens while you’re having sex.

So if you’re asking “Is it possible to get pregnant while on your period?” then yes, it is.

6. I Sometimes Have Blood Clots While on My Period. Is This Normal?

Absolutely yes, especially if you’re bleeding heavily. Small blood clots from time to time are normal and don’t indicate the presence of a serious underlying condition. When you’re bleeding heavily, anticoagulants don’t have time to work fully before blood leaves your body, which results in very tiny clots. They’re not painful and don’t cause any discomfort. However, if your clots are particularly large (e.g. the size of a quarter), you may want to see your ob-gyn about this and have the issue further investigated.

7. When Is a Heavy Menstrual Flow Too Heavy?

This is a very common question women ask. The best ways to determine if your menstruation is way too heavy is paying close attention to certain factors. For example, if you’re passing many blood clots that tend to be large, then your menstruation may be heavy. Also, if the blood flow is still heavy after the fourth or fifth day, and your menstruation lasts for at least seven days, then your menstruation is likely very heavy.

You may want to check with your doctor and see if there’s anything wrong with you, and what’s causing the heavy flow.

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