When to take pregnancy test with irregular periods

Achieving pregnancy requires a series of events that must each happen at the right moment, especially in women with irregular periods. Getting the right diagnosis and treatment for the associated condition is the first and foremost requirement. The best gynaecologist for PCOS in Chennai can help with difficulties related to getting pregnant in women with irregular periods. If menstrual cycles are irregular, the opportunity for getting pregnant, known as the fertile window is not known. Other issue is that, the woman may not be able to differentiate between symptoms of the condition such as PCOS or pregnancy symptoms. The most difficult question for a woman who has not had periods for many months or for whom her cycle duration has been highly variable is….. when to test for pregnancy ?

Why is it difficult to detect pregnancy with irregular periods ?

It is difficult to predict the time of ovulation in women with irregular periods and to know whether they are pregnant. In general, if periods are regular, it is recommended to wait at least two weeks after the estimated ovulation day, or around the expected date of next  period, to know if they are pregnant. With irregular periods, there may be many questions, especially if the woman is trying to get pregnant. This is mainly because of the inability to know when the next period is expected. The difference between the longest cycle and shortest cycle may be more than 7 to 9 days, making the timing of the period highly variable. Women may be looking for early symptoms of pregnancy to get a pregnancy test done. A pregnancy test can offer answers and confirm a pregnancy. However, it is very hard for women with irregular periods to determine when to take pregnancy test. Following certain steps would benefit in guiding the right time for a pregnancy test.

Step 1. Track fertility signs for body literacy

Ovulation generally occurs midway of a menstrual cycle. In a typical 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs at about day 14. Whereas, when periods are irregular, predicting ovulation and timing intercourse to increase chances of pregnancy can be difficult. With irregular periods as in PCOS, necessary levels of essential hormones namely oestrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone that regulate menstrual cycle are not present. This means that the body is not always ovulating on its own. With no ovulation, there is no egg to fertilize resulting in no pregnancy. Normally, few days before ovulation till a day after ovulation is the fertile window. In women with irregular periods, absence of frequent or regular ovulation leaves them guessing when they are ovulating. Moreover, hormonal fluctuations may interfere with the normal signs of ovulation, making it further difficult to know the time of ovulation.

Step 2. Predict ovulation

Ovulation predictor kits are a great way to direct towards knowing when ovulation occurs. Ovulation predictor kit detects the surge in luteinizing hormone, which triggers ovulation. These kits are fairly accurate and easy to use, requiring just a quick pass through the urine stream while urinating. Since it may not be possible to use the kit every day or every weekend, women with irregular periods may look for signs of ovulation to observe before using the kit. Women taking treatment from the best doctor for PCOS are advised to note for the following signs of ovulation:

  • An increase in cervical mucus that is stretchy and clear. An egg white-like discharge is a sign that ovulation is near.
  • A spike in basal body temperature means it is the time of ovulation. Body temperature recorded first thing in the morning everyday even before getting out of bed, when done all month along, can help in noticing the spike in temperature. A slight increase, usually half a degree to a whole degree may indicate that ovulation has occurred. This may help to time for sexual intercourse on the same day or to know the fertile window. The woman may be able to know the timing for ovulation in future cycles by following this as a routine.

Step 3 – Identifying symptoms of pregnancy

Other than missed period or morning sickness as exceptions, most symptoms of early pregnancy are very similar to regular symptoms of a forthcoming period. Some of those common symptoms that most women are familiar with are:

  • increased fatigue
  • soreness or tenderness in breasts
  • feeling of abdominal bloating
  • headaches
  • mood swings
  • low back pain

Women who routinely have an irregular menstrual cycle because of certain conditions such as PCOS, might not identify those key indicator signals, assuming that they are getting their period or they are symptoms of the condition. Certain tips to remember that can help in deciding to get a pregnancy test are:

  • Keep a close watch on the symptoms
  • No symptoms does not mean there is no pregnancy
  • If there has been sexual intercourse around the time of ovulation, get the pregnancy test done in 2 to 3 weeks.
  • It is worth doing the pregnancy test even if there has been no periods for several months.

Step 4 – Ideal time for pregnancy test

Pregnancy tests sold in the market may suggest 3 days before a forthcoming period as the ideal time but with irregular periods,  the best gynaecologist for PCOS in Chennai suggests pregnancy test about two weeks after the last unprotected sexual intercourse which was timed around ovulation. In home tests, the main hormone tested for is human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is detectable in urine. Every 29 to 53 hours during the first 30 days after implantation of a viable, intrauterine pregnancy, the level of HCG doubles. So, if waiting for a few days beyond two weeks is possible, it can improve the accuracy of results. This way, a false negative result can be avoided. A false positive result is also possible and this can reaffirmed by another test few days later. As the blood test gives more detailed results that possibly detect chances of an ectopic pregnancy or an early miscarriage, it may be advised for the same.

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