Is your menstrual cycle irregular? If so, does that affect your fertility?
The information below should answer that question for you.
The Length of Your Menstrual Cycle is Significant
There are three possibilities for the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Your menstrual cycle may be normal, short, or long/irregular. To determine the length of your menstrual cycle, count the number of days from your first day of bleeding to when your next period begins. If you’re not using any form of birth control, the length of your cycle tells you whether you are ovulating regularly. Pregnancy is only possible if you ovulate.
A menstrual cycle that lasts from 21 to 35 days is considered normal in length. If your menstrual cycle is in the normal range, you can be confident that you are ovulating regularly and your hormones are in balance. This is good news for you if you are looking to become pregnant.
A short menstrual cycle is less than 21 days, and it indicates that conception may be more difficult for you. Menopause may occur sooner than you might want it to. This is because your ovaries may contain fewer eggs. As the number of eggs decreases, your brain sends follicle-stimulating hormones. These hormones develop a follicle that causes you to ovulate earlier. Thus, you create cycles that are shortened and conception becomes more difficult.
Long or Irregular Cycle
Any menstrual cycle that lasts more than 35 days is considered to be long. A long cycle indicates that ovulation is not taking place or not happening regularly. The term used to describe a lack of ovulation is anovulation.
There are several causes of anovulation including:
- Thyroid gland irregularities
- A hormonal disorder common to women of reproductive age known as polycystic ovary syndrome. Both prolonged and infrequent menstrual periods are symptoms of PCOS. You may also have an excess of the male hormone androgen. This may cause the ovaries to develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.
- Your brain may not be able to communicate properly with your ovary due to the elevation of the prolactin hormone.
Problems with fertility and ovulation are not only caused by hormonal imbalances, but they also add to a risk of miscarriage.
Symptoms of PCOS
If PCOS is going to be a problem for you, your first symptoms will appear at the time of puberty or your first menstrual period. Sometimes, substantial weight gain will cause this condition to develop.
If you develop at least two of the following symptoms, you can assume you have PCOS.
- Your periods are irregular. The most common symptoms of PCOS are irregular, infrequent or prolonged menstrual cycles. You may have fewer than nine periods a year. The time between your periods may be more than 35 days, and your periods may be abnormally heavy
- An excess of facial and body hair is a sign that you have an excess of the male hormone androgen. Some women may occasionally develop severe acne or male-pattern baldness.
- Enlarged ovaries that contain follicles surrounding your eggs is a sign of polycystic ovaries. The polycystic ovaries indicate your ovaries may not be functioning regularly.
Obese women will find that PCOS symptoms are usually more severe.
If your menstrual cycle is irregular, long or short, you certainly have reason to be concerned. If you are trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant, you should visit your doctor to get his or her recommendations.