When to take pregnancy test with irregular periods?
Tests & Procedures, Women

When To Take Pregnancy Test With Irregular Periods?

Menstrual disorders are a fairly common problem among women of reproductive age group worldwide. Women experience various menstrual disorders right from menarche to menopause such as dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, amenorrhea, pre-menstrual syndrome and so on.

Almost every woman has experienced one or more of the menstrual disorders throughout the reproductive age group. Researches state that nearly 75% of girls in the late adolescent age experience some problems associated with menstruation.

Menstrual Disorders Are Known To Impact Females in The Following Ways

  • Influences the physical and psychological health of females
  • Absentees in class or hindrance in academics
  • Inability to engage in sports or exercises
  • Disturbed relationships with family members
  • Diminished work output
  • Restricted social and personal activities

Each Normal Menstrual Cycle Occurs as A Result of A Complex yet, Coordinated Interaction of The Following

  • The hypothalamus
  • Pituitary gland
  • Ovaries
  • Endometrium

A normal cycle begins on the first day of menstrual bleeding. The average length of each cycle is 28 (+/- 7 days). The average duration of menses is 3 – 8 days and estimated blood loss is 5 – 80 ml.

What Are Irregular Periods?

Irregular vaginal bleeding is any vaginal bleeding which is not a part of a regular period. In irregular periods, a cycle-to-cycle variation of more than 20 days is present.
Other common forms of irregular periods are:

  • Amenorrhea – Absent menstrual bleeding. Amenorrhea is when a girl does not get periods by the age of 16 years or when a female stops getting periods for at least 3 months and is not pregnant.
  • Oligomenorrhea – Infrequent menstrual periods or menses that occur more than 35 days apart.
  • Menorrhagia – Abnormally heavy or prolonged menstrual periods.
  • Metrorrhagia – Irregular uterine bleeding particularly in between periods and not associated with the normal menstrual bleeding

Causes For Irregular Periods

  1. Primary Ovarian Insufficiency – Depletion of ovarian follicles with cessation of periods before the age of 40 years.
  2. Eating Disorders – Eating Disorders includes anorexia nervosa (maintaining a low weight by either excess exercise or starvation) or bulimia nervosa (periods of excessive eating or binging)
  3. Emotional or mental stress
  4. Excessive Exercise – The incidence of menstrual irregularity is higher in athletes as compared to women with sedentary habits because of hypothalamic inhibition with suppression of frequency of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).
  5. Thyroid Dysfunction – Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
  6. High levels of the hormone prolactin
  7. Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus
  8. Cushing’s Syndrome – Occurs when the body produces too much of the stress hormone, cortisol
  9. Use Of Contraceptives – Oral contraceptive pills and hormone-containing intrauterine devices (IUDs)
  10. Asherman’s Syndrome – Formation of adhesions inside the uterine cavity. It is commonly seen in women who repeatedly undergo dilatation and curettage (D&C) procedure.
  11. Medications – Such as anticoagulants, corticosteroids, and anti-epileptic drugs

Whenever females, especially those who are sexually active, miss their period, the first thought which comes to their mind even before visiting a gynecologist is that of pregnancy. This thought can induce a situation of panic if the pregnancy is unwanted.

When To Take Pregnancy Test with Irregular Periods?

We have already seen how missing periods or irregularities in menstrual cycles can have an impact on any female’s personal, professional, family or even the academic aspect of their lives.

With such a sharp rise in lifestyle disorders due to faulty lifestyle choices such as excess fats or sugar in diet and irregularity in meals, physical inactivity, and poor sleep patterns, increasing levels of stress both at home and workplace; menstrual irregularities are now a common occurrence in women worldwide.

It is therefore important for women to be able to differentiate between irregular periods due to pregnancy or due to other causes. This article will help you understand if the missed periods are due to pregnancy or otherwise.

A Female should Take A Pregnancy Test with Irregular Periods If She Notices The Following Changes in Her Body or Signs and Symptoms

  1. Cessation Of Menses – This is the first and foremost signs of pregnancy. It is wise to wait for 7 days after the expected date of menstruation before considering pregnancy.
  2. Breast Changes – Early symptoms of pregnancy are breast changes which can be one or more of the following:
    • Heaviness of breasts
    • Tenderness or discomfort in the breasts.
    • Breasts enlarge and feel nodular
    • Areola and nipples become more pigmented
    • Tiny lump like protuberances called Montgomery’s tubercles can be seen around the nipples.
    • Veins around the breasts may seem enlarged and bluish prominently as the blood flow to breasts increases
  3. Morning Sickness – Nausea without vomiting is seen in about 70% of women. Nausea is felt mostly during the early hours of the day.
  4. Abdominal Discomfort – Women may complain of feeling bloated or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen
  5. Frequency Of Urination – The progressively enlarging gravid uterus exerts some pressure upon the urinary bladder causing increased frequency of urination.
  6. Fatigue – Tiredness is one of the early symptoms of pregnancy. Some women may also complain of feeling too sleepy or reduced desire to participate in work or perform routine chores.
  7. Feeling Of Warmth – Some women may occasionally complain of feeling feverish or sweating excessively. This may occur as a result of alteration in blood circulation due to pregnancy. This may also be explained as a feeling of “hot flashes” by some women.
  8. Mood Swings – This has been occasionally reported that women during pregnancy experience mood changes owing to the wide variety of hormonal changes taking place inside the body as a result of pregnancy.

The above-mentioned signs and symptoms are those which have been commonly reported by pregnant women. These signs and symptoms or their frequency and intensity can vary in different women.

If A Women Notices any of The above Mentioned Signs of Pregnancy with Irregular Periods, Then She can Undergo The Following Tests for Pregnancy

  1. Immunological Test – For detection of beta-hCG (human gonadotropin hormone) in maternal serum or urine.
  2. Early Icon II Test – Detection of beta-hCG using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique. This test is highly sensitive and can detect pregnancy even before a missed period.
  3. Pregcolor Card Test – This is a home-kit available commercially for detection of pregnancy at home. This test can be reliable and may be found positive by 5 days after a missed period.
  4. Radio-Immunoassay – It is a highly sensitive and specific test to detect early pregnancy since it is based on the detection of the glycoprotein of beta-hCG. This test is often used to detect normalcy and viability o pregnancy.
  5. Ultra-Sonography – It is the most reliable test to detect pregnancy as early as the 5th week of intrauterine life.