A: Many women have menstrual cycles that fall outside the normal 21 to 35 day range. Sometimes this is due to certain medical conditions, such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) or thyroid disease. Occasionally, there is no obvious reason for the longer cycles.
If a woman is menstruating every 3 to 4 months, it is likely that she is ovulating very infrequently, or possibly not at all. If ovulation is occurring, a period will follow within 11 to 14 days. For example, in women that have 28 day cycles (a period occurring every 28 days), we know that ovulation is occurring on day 14. If your menstrual cycle is occurring 3 to 4 times a year, you are likely oligo-ovulatory, which is the fancy medical word for ovulating infrequently. So, can you get pregnant? Yes, you can. But it will be difficult as it is very hard to predict when you will be ovulating.
When women ovulate this infrequently, it is important to see a gynecologist for a few reasons. First, if you have never had an evaluation regarding why your periods are so irregular, now is a good time to do so. This can be checked with a physical exam and a few blood tests. Once this is done, your doctor may suggest different options for trying to conceive, ranging from accupuncture to medication used to induce ovulation.