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Irregular periods - how do you know when you're pregnant?


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When a woman has a normal cycle, she usually knows she's pregnant after missing a period or two. How about women who's cycle is abnormal?

Since I stopped taking the pill 3 years ago (after 7 years on it with no breaks), my periods never returned to normal. There has been no pattern at all & I'll never know when I'm going to have one. I mentioned this to my doctor when I had my annual physical (Feb 2011) and he didn't seem to concerned since I'm not going entirely without them. It does worry me that I can go a few months without one. I plan to bring this up again during my annual check up next year as well.

Anyway, my husband and I are attempting to conceive, I'm not sure when I should actually take a pregnancy test. After you conceived (within the first 1-3 weeks), did you have any symptoms that tipped you off?

Thanks! 

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Sore breasts. That's always my first symptom and it happens almost immediately. Not even the entire breast, really, just the nipple/areola. That is NOT a menstrual symptom for me so it tipped me off. Also, I threw up randomly two days before I tested which would have been 5 days before my estimated period.

Well, and we were trying. We were using a combination of charting and ovulation tests. We would chart when we thought I was ovulating based on a 28-day cycle (which is what I had on BCPs) then I would start using the ovulation tests. I was pregnant before I even had a post-BCP menstrual cycle.

Off of BCPs, I'm like you. Wildly varying periods and months without.

That is interesting. I have noticed sore breasts for the past 3 days with no period to show for it (it's usually a tip off that I might have a period soon). I'm confused because I did have a period on Nov 4 (lasted 3 days) so for me to have another one so soon is not typical.

I probably shouldn't jump to conclusions just yet. I would be very surprised if we got pregnant so soon. Our first official time was only December 2! I always assumed I would have trouble conceiving because of my irregularity. 

I finished my last BCP pack on a Saturday, period started the following Tuesday and I was pregnant three weeks later. It can happen, trust me.

But, it's probably good to not get your hopes up. Easier said than done, I know.

I don't know how people do this! Just relax and put it out of your head... It's always running through my mind even though we set out thinking "let's be realistic, it's not going to happen right away". We will see what happens. I've been feeling "period-y" for the past 3 days so I'll just keep a (mental) eye on it for now.

Classic early signs of pregnancy (other than lack of a period) often mimic those you get when you are pre-menstrual ie. sensitive breasts/ nipples. Nausea/ gastric upset. Cravings for random or previously disliked foods. Emotional instability/ mood swings.

For some people increased sensitivity to tastes or smells is a strong early indicator of pregnancy. That is, tastes or smells that cause you nausea or make you crave them.

I know that it is really tough to figure this stuff out if your cycle is all over the place and totally random. I am presuming you have not had any fertility advice so far. If you are not pregnant now, maybe you could start by trying to track your ovulation?

Since you do not get a regular period you might find your best chance for conceiving is to figure out if or when you ovulate. Obviously, knowing this is the key to success as this would be your prime time to conceive.

I never tried (or needed) them but I believe there are ovulation kits you can buy.

Alternatively, taking your temperature before getting out of bed in the morning is a method many use to track ovulation: [from buzzle.com] Right after ovulation, a woman's basal body temperature is likely to increase by 0.5 to 1.6 degrees. As this minute difference is not sensed by the woman, a basal thermometer may be used to detect it. The cause of this 'heating up', is the increased production of the hormone progesterone, triggered by ovulation. As one is recommended to have intercourse 2 or 3 days before the basal temperature reaches its highest (or starts increasing), the only way to know when this will be is by charting your basal temperature for a couple of months.

Original Post by foxriver:

Classic early signs of pregnancy (other than lack of a period) often mimic those you get when you are pre-menstrual ie. sensitive breasts/ nipples. Nausea/ gastric upset. Cravings for random or previously disliked foods. Emotional instability/ mood swings.

For some people increased sensitivity to tastes or smells is a strong early indicator of pregnancy. That is, tastes or smells that cause you nausea or make you crave them.

I know that it is really tough to figure this stuff out if your cycle is all over the place and totally random. I am presuming you have not had any fertility advice so far. If you are not pregnant now, maybe you could start by trying to track your ovulation?

Since you do not get a regular period you might find your best chance for conceiving is to figure out if or when you ovulate. Obviously, knowing this is the key to success as this would be your prime time to conceive.

I never tried (or needed) them but I believe there are ovulation kits you can buy.

Alternatively, taking your temperature before getting out of bed in the morning is a method many use to track ovulation: [from buzzle.com] Right after ovulation, a woman's basal body temperature is likely to increase by 0.5 to 1.6 degrees. As this minute difference is not sensed by the woman, a basal thermometer may be used to detect it. The cause of this 'heating up', is the increased production of the hormone progesterone, triggered by ovulation. As one is recommended to have intercourse 2 or 3 days before the basal temperature reaches its highest (or starts increasing), the only way to know when this will be is by charting your basal temperature for a couple of months.

To add to your success you can also check your discharge. Using clean hands and a small piece of toilet paper wipe some discharge from your vaginal opening gently. Then look at the consistency and stringy-ness of the discharge by pulling the pieces of TP away from each other. The thinner and farther apart you can pull it apart the more likely you are to be near ovulation as thin mucous allows for easier sperm penetration of the cervix. The thicker it is, the farther from ovulation you are.

Good luck!

Thanks for all the info!

I haven't been tracking my ovulation. Like I said, we just started with this. I was planning to try for 6 months or so and if we didn't conceive, I would be more diligent and start tracking. I'm familiar with the process because my sister in law & brother took 2 full years to conceive so she was trying everything.

I did start taking folic acid and I already follow a healthy diet so at least I'm on track there.

Still no period today but symptoms remain, btw. Very curious.

I've read that if you have enough hormones to get symptoms, you should have enough to test positive on the more sensitive tests (First Response Early Result is one that gets recommended, but for cheap test, look for Wondfos on amazon or ebay).  But it's hard to know if that's actually true.  Sore nipples and extreme exhaustion (for more than just a day, which is what I get for PMS) are two leading symptoms, but of course it varies between women.

If this cycle doesn't work out, I definitely recommend tracking. Fertility Friend is a really good (free) website for tracking, has good explanations, and it can help a lot in figuring out what your body is doing, even if you have very normal cycles.

I actually bought a 2 pack of those tests last weekend. I figured if I'd use them eventually and they were on sale. I don't want to "waste" it if it's too early to detect the hormones. I'd like to wait for at least a month but I'm not sure if I'll make it!

I totally know where you're coming from, cellophane! I was always very irregular - up to 3 months without a period! We went off BC a year ago in September and thought, well, we just won't try not to conceive. Then over the summer I went from late May to early Sept without a period. I took an at home test and it came back negative right away. I'd had the usual PMS symptoms; tender breasts, lower back ache, cramps, bloating, mood swings, mild fatigue, etc, so we just waited it out and I started my period right after Labor Day.

At the end of Sept my husband and I went on vacation. A few days after we got back (Oct 4), I started getting sore breasts, cramps and bloating again so I assumed it had been a month, maybe I was going to have a regular period. When it didn't come, it didn't bother me. The tender breasts continued, but over the next three weeks, I also developed a touch of nausea and massive fatigue - like I was falling asleep at my desk! (I am not a 'nap' type of person at all!) Also, my motivation to cook, clean, work out and do the crafty things I loved went from 110% to nearly 0%. We just associated it with not getting enough sleep. Then over Halloween weekend I couldn't even get off the the couch without wanting to puke, though I never did. And I was peeing constantly. That's when I took another home test and it came up negative again.

My annual physical was in mid-Nov and I tried to get in sooner thinking I was anemic or had a UTI. Well I couldn't. When I went into the appointment, the doc asked about pregnancy and I said a test came back negative so they tested me again in the office. She came running back less than 5 minutes later saying I was definitely prego!

The way my doc explained it to me is if you are irregular (say 3 months like me) that means you may only ovulate about every 3 months. And that unfortunately means I had a 1 in 3 month's chance of conceiving. That depressed me at first, until she told me we were pregnant! And it was only a couple weeks after my last period! Long story (not so) short, just be patient and try not to focus on it. If your irregular period doesn't show up this month it may not be a bad idea to take a test, though those things can still be wrong as they were for me! Lots of the advice given here is excellent and good for you for reaching out! Sorry my reply was so long! I'm still in shock!

Good luck!

in most cases, the "early" pregnancy symptoms people may feel are just progesterone, which raises after you ovulate.  so whether you are trying or not, if you ovulate, you'll get some sort of symptoms due to progesterone.  i've been trying to get pregnant for almost 7 months now and now i notice everything just because i'm paying more attention :)  like right now, my nipples hurt.  but that happened last month too and i got a period.  it's quite annoying ;)

the one time i was pregnant (ended in miscarriage) i didn't even get pregnancy symtpoms until i was 6 weeks along.

i chart and it really helps pinpoint my ovulation date.  our personal problem is just bad timing, lol.  my and my husband's work schedules are completely different so we're never usually even awake or asleep at the same time.

anywho.

you may want to look into the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.  Very informative.  i really enjoyed reading it :)

best of luck to you!!!

I never had sore breasts or sore nipples with my 2 pregnancies (first ended in m/c at 8 weeks, second is my healthy 9 month old ;). My immediate symptoms were crazy weird dreams, nausea, and fatigue. Those all set in within a few days of conception.

Just throwing that out there b/c a couple people had mentioned sore breasts but for me that wasn't an indication.

Tracking w/ Fertility Friend and using a fertility/ovulation test kit are probably good tools for you if your cycle is irregular. Good luck!!

I had no symptoms for either pregnancy other than a delayed period.  But who cares.  Take the darned test already so we can all gush and guffaw if you're pregnant.

I took the test on Wednesday evening and it was negative. So either it's correct or I'll have a surprise coming soon. The symptoms have lessened over the past few days (no period though) but I have been feeling a low grade nauseous that is possibly just food induced. I suppose we'll just have to have more sex...!

Bummer! But I still say that if you don't get your period by January and some of those nauseous feelings are still there, to try the test again. Though be sure to do it in the morning... apparently that's the best time for most accurate results!

Yep, that's the best upside to negative PTs... more nookie! Laughing
(And then you get pregnant and all that nookie goes right out the window...*sigh* LOL) I'm hoping it comes back soon!  

Just relax and have fun - good luck!

Original Post by sonja1980:

Bummer! But I still say that if you don't get your period by January and some of those nauseous feelings are still there, to try the test again. Though be sure to do it in the morning... apparently that's the best time for most accurate results!

Yep, that's the best upside to negative PTs... more nookie!
(And then you get pregnant and all that nookie goes right out the window...*sigh* LOL) I'm hoping it comes back soon!  

Just relax and have fun - good luck!

Man, the hubby and I were doing it like 3-4 times a day when I was pg with our son! I couldn't get enough. Now, its like three times a week, and I feel bad because I know he wants it more often.

Original Post by leronia:

Original Post by sonja1980:

Bummer! But I still say that if you don't get your period by January and some of those nauseous feelings are still there, to try the test again. Though be sure to do it in the morning... apparently that's the best time for most accurate results!

Yep, that's the best upside to negative PTs... more nookie!
(And then you get pregnant and all that nookie goes right out the window...*sigh* LOL) I'm hoping it comes back soon!  

Just relax and have fun - good luck!

Man, the hubby and I were doing it like 3-4 times a day when I was pg with our son! I couldn't get enough. Now, its like three times a week, and I feel bad because I know he wants it more often.

LOL! Lucky! Out of curiousity, how far along were you? We're still early in the pg and we have the added disadvantage that my husband gets severe fatigue due to multiple meds he takes for his skin desease. I'm hoping things pick up a little bit here in the next couple months! ;)

Original Post by sonja1980:

Original Post by leronia:

Original Post by sonja1980:

Bummer! But I still say that if you don't get your period by January and some of those nauseous feelings are still there, to try the test again. Though be sure to do it in the morning... apparently that's the best time for most accurate results!

Yep, that's the best upside to negative PTs... more nookie!
(And then you get pregnant and all that nookie goes right out the window...*sigh* LOL) I'm hoping it comes back soon!  

Just relax and have fun - good luck!

Man, the hubby and I were doing it like 3-4 times a day when I was pg with our son! I couldn't get enough. Now, its like three times a week, and I feel bad because I know he wants it more often.

LOL! Lucky! Out of curiousity, how far along were you? We're still early in the pg and we have the added disadvantage that my husband gets severe fatigue due to multiple meds he takes for his skin desease. I'm hoping things pick up a little bit here in the next couple months! ;)

Honestly, the whole time....Heck, I wanted some the day my son was born, but sadly because of the bleeding and what not, couldn't...and doing it on a hospital bed probably wouldn't have worked anyway.

My drive didn't start to go down hill until I started school full time in 2008. I Know that it was BEST in the 2nd trimester, though.

I've always been very regular and got pregnant the first time we tried with both of our boys. With my first pregnancy I knew u was pregnant just days after conceiving. My breasts were sooo sore and I had feelings/slight cramping like I had never experienced before. But my second pregnancy the only symptom I had was having a hard time sleeping (which i do when I'm pregnant). It was totally different from the first. Everyone is different! Can you feel yourself ovulate? It's a slight cramping sort if nagging feeling on one side of your abdomen (depending on which side the egg is coming out of). That's how I knew it was time to get busy! I can't remember the company, but look online for the ovulation and pregnancy strip tests. They are super cheap and work really well. You can buy a ton of them for what you would pay for a box of 2 at the store. Good luck!!!!

I suppose I should update this post.

I ended up having a period on Dec 21 so I was not pregnant. The period was heavier than usual and lasted 1-2 extra days. So now I'm playing the waiting game again while still trying! I bought an ovulation kit but you're supposed to start it 6 days after the first day bleeding starts. I was a few days off so I have to wait for the next cycle (which will hopefully come this month?)

to be continued.

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