The definition of ‘normal’ can vary greatly when it comes to our period. However, no amount of pain or discomfort is truly normal and these irregularities that can interfere with your ability to conceive, even if they are ‘normal’ for you.
Short menstrual cycles can indicate that ovulation is not occurring or you may have a shortened luteal phase. Both of which, impair your chances of conception.
A short luteal phase is known as luteal phase defect. It is assessed as less than 10 – 12 days. This shortened time frame does not allow sufficient time for full development of the endometrium. This can mean that if an egg is fertilised, it may not properly implant or may miscarry shortly after implantation.
The most common cause of a luteal phase defect is lack of progesterone. Although there is no specific diagnostic test for luteal phase defects, the length of your luteal phase can be assessed using our menstrual charting tools and tracking the days from ovulation to the commencement of your next menstrual cycle. Your doctor may also perform blood tests to assess follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels, luteinising hormone (LH) levels and progesterone levels or in some cases an endometrial biopsy may be performed.
Luteal phase defects can be treated using prescribed medications such as progesterone tablets or injections, human chorionic gonadotropin or clomid. Alternatively vitex-agnus castus is a herb with progesterone stimulating properties, which has been found to be an effective natural treatment especially when combined with vitamin B6.
Long or/heavy periods
Long or heavy periods can be a sign of hormonal imbalance and/or a failure to ovulate. This is generally related to a high estrogen to progesterone balance. Healthy progesterone levels are necessary for ovulation and conception as well as helping to stop excess bleeding during your period. Bleeding which continues longer than normal or is heavier than normal can indicate low progesterone or a low progesterone to estrogen balance (estrogen dominance).
Long and heavy periods may also be related to underlying endometriosis, where the uterine lining grows outside the uterus.
Your Natural Fertility Specialist may prescribe dietary recommendations herbal support to assist natural hormonal balance by supporting the natural clearance of excess estrogen via the liver and correct underlying hormonal imbalance.
Thick, dark, brownish menstrual bleeding or clots
Healthy menstrual flow should be free flowing and bright red in colour. Menstrual flow that is dark or brown in colour or contains clots can be old blood left over from the previous cycle. This can be caused by poor uterine circulation, sluggish menstrual flow or poor uterine tone. Following a healthy diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables, and keeping well hydrated and active will help to improve circulation and blood flow. Your Natural Fertility Specialist may also prescribe herbs to help stimulate circulation and activate healthy blood flow.
Spotting can be a regular occurrence for some women and often times it’s no cause for concern. However in some cases it can be a sign of an underlying condition such as
- Failure to ovulate (or some women also experience spotting at the time of ovulation)
- Hormonal imbalance
- Excessive exercise
- Poor diet/nutrition
- Cervical abnormalities
- Ovarian cysts
Therefore if you do experience spotting and are trying to conceive, you should advise your Health Care Professional.
Amnenorhoea basically means ‘no menstruation’. This is diagnosed when the menstrual cycle ceases after it has already commenced at puberty. It can be quite normal for women to miss a period here and there. However if more than 3 consecutive menstrual cycles are missed, this should be investigated. Amenorrhoea can be cause by a variety of factors including
A deficiency of iron and/or zinc can be a contributing factor as well as lack of vitamin C and B vitamins. You can request a test from your GP to check your nutrient status and correct supplementation has been shown to help correct these deficiencies. Also taking a good multivitamin can help provide a general baseline of important nutrients to help prevent deficiency.
Acute stress can cause a temporary loss of your period or missed cycle. Even positive ‘stress’ such as getting married or going on a overseas holiday can cause you to miss a period. However, if the stress is ongoing and becomes chronic stress, this can lead to a longer-term loss of menstruation.
Being significantly overweight or underweight can cause amenorrhoea. This can also apply to excess or lack of body fat, even if the BMI is within normal range. For example athletes with very high muscle mass and very low body fat can experience amenorrhoea even though their weight on the scales is apparently ‘normal’. These factors can be positively influenced by changes to diet and exercise.
Lack of a menstrual cycle can be a symptom of an underlying condition known as Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome.
An overactive thyroid or hyperthyroid can cause amenorrhoea.
If you are experiencing amenorrhoea or any issues with your menstrual cycle, you should seek the advice of a Health Care Professional trained in this area. Early intervention to help understand the underlying cause of menstrual irregularities can help resolve these issues and improve your fertility health.