What are some signs of pregnancy when you have irregular periods?

Written by:, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.

When you have irregular periods, you probably know that you can’t count on a missed period — a primary pregnancy sign — as a sign that you might be pregnant. It’s another typical menstrual cycle for you. 

Also, your body might have already started going through other changes that tell you you might be pregnant even before you notice that your period might be later than usual. Although, only a pregnancy test can confirm whether or not you’re pregnant. These signs can prompt you to take a test in the first place. 

So, what other signs of pregnancy should you look out for when you have irregular periods? Keep reading to learn more. 

What are some signs of pregnancy when you have irregular periods?

What other signs of pregnancy should you look out for when you have irregular periods?

What are irregular periods?

According to the Office on Women’s Health, you have irregular periods if your menstrual cycle occurs outside the typical cycle length — less than 21 days or longer than 35 days — and if your menstrual cycle length changes by more than 20 days every month. 

For instance, if a person had a 21-day cycle length, and it changes to a 42-day cycle, their period is irregular. 

How do you count your cycle length? Your cycle starts on the first day of your period and ends a day before your next period. 

It’s normal to experience irregular periods during your teen years or when going through perimenopause. Stress can also cause you to have an irregular period. It may also be a side effect of medication. 

Still, irregular periods are often a sign of an underlying health condition, like uncontrolled diabetes, eating disorders, thyroid problems, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). 

If you notice that your periods are irregular, consider seeing a doctor, who may be able to tell you why you might be having irregular periods and what to do next.

Can you get pregnant if you have irregular periods? 

Yes, you can get pregnant if you have irregular periods. But studies suggest that women with irregular periods may take longer to get pregnant because they might have problems with ovulation that can affect fertility or make it more difficult to tell when they’re fertile.

When your periods are irregular, you might find it challenging to predict your fertile days — which start five days before ovulation and ends a day after ovulation — to know when having sex will more likely make you pregnant. 

But you can use an ovulation predictor kit (also called an ovulation test) to know when you’ll be ovulating and plan how often you have sex according to your ovulation timing. 

Irregular periods may also be due to certain health conditions tied to fertility problems like anovulation, PCOS, and POI. In this case, treating the underlying health condition can raise pregnancy chances.

What are the signs of pregnancy when your periods are irregular?

You may not be able to rely on missed periods as a pregnancy sign when you have irregular periods. Here are other signs to look out for that may signal pregnancy.

Light bleeding

One of the signs of early pregnancy a person might experience is light bleeding. Also known as implantation spotting or bleeding, this bleeding occurs in about 15 to 25 in 100 pregnancies in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. 

Implantation bleeding happens when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. Implantation typically occurs about 6 to 12 days after conception. Typically, implantation bleeding is light pink or even brown, which can help you distinguish it from normal period blood, which is typically more red.

If you experience spotting, it’s advisable to do a pregnancy test and see a doctor afterward. Bleeding in early pregnancy may be a sign of infection, ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage.

Frequent peeing

Have you been going to the bathroom more often than usual? Another sign you should look out for when you think you might be pregnant is frequent bathroom visits.

Frequent urination usually occurs during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. Some experts say it might be because of the pressure of the uterus on the bladder that causes the bladder to let out urine before it’s filled up. 

Plus, during pregnancy, the body produces the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone, which can cause a person to urinate more often than usual. 

Nausea and vomiting

Feeling nauseous and vomiting are the two most common pregnancy signs. It happens in up to 80 percent of pregnant women. Although these symptoms are called morning sickness, you might experience them at any time of the day.

These symptoms might start between the second and eighth weeks after conception and last until birth. But they are usually most severe in the first trimester. 

You can talk to a doctor about these symptoms. They might recommend diet changes or medications. 

What are some signs of pregnancy when you have irregular periods?

Feeling nauseous and vomiting are two of the most common pregnancy signs.

Fatigue

Have you been feeling exhausted lately? Among other reasons you might be feeling so, pregnancy is one of them. Many people during early pregnancy experience this symptom. 

Hormonal and emotional changes that come with pregnancy and adjusting to these changes can be energy draining. So feeling tired is a good enough reason to think you’re pregnant. Consider taking a pregnancy test to confirm any suspicions. 

Fatigue may last throughout pregnancy but is more likely to happen during the first and third trimesters. 

Tender breasts

Noticing that your breasts are growing bigger and feeling tender? 

Hormones, primarily estrogen, can make your breasts and nipples feel sore and grow larger during pregnancy. Your breasts might feel heavier, and you might need to change your bras to a more comfortable size. 

These changes occur to prepare your body to produce milk and breastfeed.

Mood swings

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also cause you to experience sudden changes in how you’re feeling. You might feel happy one minute and teary the next. 

These mood swings might occur throughout pregnancy but are more likely during the first and third trimesters. 

You might also experience mood swings while trying to cope or adjust to the changes your body might be experiencing — like fatigue and morning sickness — due to pregnancy.

What are some signs of pregnancy when you have irregular periods?

Other Signs of Pregnancy

Other signs that tell you might be pregnant include:

  • Backaches
  • Poor sleep
  • Changes in your food preference and appetite
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Headaches 

However, we recommend consulting your doctor if you experience the following symptoms during pregnancy:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Hand and feet swelling
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Feeling the fetus move less
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Stomach cramps 
  • Contractions
  • Water breaks
  • Signs that you might be ill or have an infection
  • Shaky hands and feet
  • Seizures

Irregular periods can make it harder to know when to take a pregnancy test. But you don’t have to be left in the dark about your pregnancy status if you think you might be pregnant. Look out for common signs of pregnancy during the first trimester, like unusual tiredness, nausea, vomiting, and — of course — take a pregnancy test to check if you’re pregnant. 

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