How Your Period Can Indicate Fertility Issues
What is a “normal” period? The term “normal” indicates that there’s a standard period experience across all women who have begun to menstruate and have not yet entered menopause. While it’s true that there’s a baseline of what a period can/should entail, differences in symptoms, length, heaviness, and cycle can vary. We wanted to offer information about how you can determine whether their period symptoms fall outside of the standard range, and what this could mean for your fertility.
Of course, we always encourage women with reproductive concerns to consult with their gynecologist.
When is a period not normal?
On average, a woman will have her menstrual cycle take place about every 28 days. Most cycles last around 5-7 days total, with symptoms such as cramping, fatigue, appetite changes, emotional strain, bloating, etc. This is just the baseline of what a period can entail as fluctuations will occur from one woman to another easily. However, when and if your period begins to impact your quality of life and ability to perform everyday tasks, then you may be out of that normal range.
For example, women who experience the following should consider consulting with their gynecologist:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding (using up more than one pad or tampon per hour)
- Severe cramping/pain, fatigue, bloating, or nausea
- Significant mood swings
- Inconsistent period cycles (short, long)
If the above are occurring when you have your period, it is possible that an underlying condition is responsible. Conditions like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) or endometriosis can make life very difficult, if not unbearable for women during their periods (or even generally).
How can my period impact my fertility?
When women are attempting a pregnancy without fertility care they will track their cycles in order to determine when ovulation is occurring. If you have a consistent, standard menstrual cycle, then this process is relatively easy and can be done either via a calendar, an app, or ovulation testing kits. Of course, this does not mean that ideal fertility is a given, but figuring out ovulation should not cause too much stress. In the event that your period is not standard because your cycle is shorter, longer, or inconsistent, then it can be challenging to determine when you’re ovulating -- making conception difficult too.
Additionally, if you have an underlying condition, such as those noted above (PCOS, endometriosis), then your ability to become pregnant and maintain a healthy pregnancy through childbirth may also be affected.
What can I do if my period is not normal?
Women are often under the assumption that a difficult, painful period is just something they have to put up with, but this is not true. There is no reason for your period to negatively impact your life to the degree that you miss school, work, or other activities. Please consider making an appointment with your gynecologist to discuss your symptoms in-depth and make a plan for treatment where possible. Options can include birth control, lifestyle changes, and potentially surgical procedures if an underlying condition is present.