- Whether the uterus is receiving adequate circulation
- Whether you are having a timely ovulation
- If the hormones are balanced or imbalance
And, much more; our monthly cycle is, in fact, our best fertility indicator.
Also ascertaining what is ‘normal’ or what is our goal to bring our cycles back on the right track are equally important. While we understand that we cannot fit everyone into just one box, in order to understand the general range of a healthy cycle, let us begin from the starting point.
What is Menstruation?
How does the cycle work?
The menstruation is only a part of the incredibly composite monthly fertility cycle organized by your endocrine system, wherein the endocrine glands begin working in synthesis for sending messages through hormones. This is better known as the feedback loop.
In plain words, the hypothalamus generates Gn-RH (gonadotropin-releasing hormones) which indicates to the pituitary gland to start generating FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormones) to indicate the ovaries to begin releasing estrogen & progesterone, acknowledged by the pituitary.
Right? Simple? Or, Not so. As you observe a healthy cycle is reliant on each and every piece of information that the feedback loop receives and whether it is working appropriately. Imagine it as a band of orchestra, if merely a part of the period is off, it may place the entire cycle out of the track, causing, causing unevenness that may impact your fertility adversely.
Phases of the menstrual cycle
The hypothalamus reacts to the variant estrogen and progesterone levels released from the ovaries. When the estrogen levels fall during your menstruation, the hypothalamus begins secreting Gn-RH which indicates to the pituitary to discharge FSH, which subsequently kicks off the follicular growth in your ovaries.
Nearly 10 to 20 follicles start developing, but just one out of them attains maturity to develop an egg. The developing follicles begin producing estrogen hormone to stimulate the uterine lining in anticipation of receiving and implanting a fertilized egg in the uterus.
As the levels of estrogen increase (released from the growing follicles before the ovulation) the cervical mucus starts changing its consistency like an egg white to make itself as fertile mucus. The higher levels of estrogen subsequently prompt the hypothalamus to release of Gn-RH, which afterwards indicate the rise of FSH and LH which usually normally activates the egg release from the ovaries. Once the ovulation ( if ovulation does not happen, it is known as anovulation) has taken place, the levels of FSH fall swiftly and the LH begins falling gradually.
The Luteal phase begins after the ovulation. While the LH is present, the corpus luteum starts secreting higher quantities of progesterone and moderate levels of estrogen constantly.
The uterine lining is now controlled by progesterone making it to develop in such a manner that it is beneficial and is able to nourish the developing embryo.
In case fertilization does not happen, the hormonal decline causes the uterine lining to shed as its health, maintenance and development is dependent on hormones all the time. As the estrogen levels reach adequately low, the hypothalamus starts releasing the Gn-Rh and the cycle being all over again.
Counting your menstrual cycle days
Day-1 of your menstrual cycle is always the 1st Day of your period. The days between the 1st Day of your period and the ovulation is known as Follicular Phase. Usually, this lasts for 14 days, but may differ from one female to another. After a female ovulates, her luteal phase starts.
The days between the ovulation and your menstruation are of Luteal Phase. Similar to the follicular phase, it also last for 14 days. During this phase, an egg fertilized by a sperm attempts to attach itself in the uterine lining for establishing in the uterus. In case the luteal phase is of less than 12 days, this may make the embryo implantation almost impossible because the egg does not get adequate time for proper implanting and indicating to the cycle that the pregnancy has happened.
Cyclebeads – Standard Days Method developed by the Institute of Reproductive Health of the Goergetown University is a very useful tool for tracking the length of your menstrual cycle and ascertaining when ovulation may happen.
What is an ideal period?
We are often asked what a perfect period is. As we are all born differently, there cannot be one answer applicable to all. An ideal menstrual cycle is of 28 days, as per the textbooks, which may last for 3 to 5 days. How long your period is perhaps the most important information your healthcare provider may ask followed by the consistency and color of your period, besides the pain you experience. Using these pieces of information may help you learning in keeping a healthy and balanced menstrual cycle.
Range of a Healthy Cycle
The general period range of a healthy menstrual cycle is from 21 to 35 days. Several females may experience different menstrual cycles from this usual range, but if there is regularity in pattern and a healthy body, besides the follicular phase running between the range of 12 and 14 days, there should be nothing to worry about.
Ovulation and hormone levels often cause the regularity in your menstrual cycle. Your inability to ovulate affects the levels of hormones and the hormonal imbalance may hold back the discharge of hormones that are necessary for ovulation stimulation.
There are several factors that may affect your ovulation and cause hormonal imbalance. Stress is one of them.
How to make use of these menstrual cycle signs to ascertain your hormonal balance?
Our objective is to help you listen and understand the body signs that may tell you that something is wrong and gone out of balance. Your menstrual cycle is one of the best methods your body may commune and tell about your fertility. The menstrual details may be used as a fertility window informing you what is, in fact, going on within your body, where lays the imbalance and how your reproductive system is working or is there an imbalance in hormones.
- Missing a menstruation
Missing your menstruation just once should not make you worrisome. Hormonal balance is a pretty sensitive and gets affected effortlessly, even by stress. It usually resets itself. Missing a period or two does not necessarily indicate infertility as you may still ovulate without menstruating. This happened to several females coming to our Clinic and yet they got pregnant naturally. Missing your menstruation for continuously for a period of six months is known as amenorrhea.
- Short Cycles
Short menstrual cycles may cause fertility problems because of lack of ovulation such as:
Your luteal phase and follicular phase of your menstrual cycle become too short causing:
- Lacking nutrition,
- Other deficiency
- Low body weight
Vitex is the best herb used correcting the luteal phase defects. According to studies, with the use of Vitex nearly 83 percent females got benefited in correcting the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle.
- Longer Periods
A longer period indicates failure to ovulate or/and the hormonal imbalance. Progesterone released by the body soon after ovulation usually helps in stopping the excessive bleeding in order to preserve the uterine lining. With the increased levels of estrogen or the low progesterone, bleeding may continue for a longer period than the usual.
- Heavy menstruation
The heavy menstruation is experienced by a female with the prostaglandin imbalance or/and when uterine lining is excessively stimulated by the estrogens because of dominance of estrogen.
- Spotting and bleeding between periods
Spotting is a complicated subject as it may get caused by many different reasons. Mostly, it is not something to worry about. Some of the reasons for spotting may be:
- Trouble in hormone balance
- Inability to ovulate
- Presence of Endometriosis
- Ovarian cysts
- Anomalies in the cervix
- Excessive exercise
- Ovulation – Certain females experience spotting at the time of ovulation because of changes of estrogen levels during the middle of the cycle.
- Use of hormonal birth controlling methods
- Poor diet and nutrition