I’m glad you asked! What does happen if your menstrual cycle isn’t 28 days? Following a huge response from my ovulation segment on healthalks – there have been questions flying all about the place about healthy menstrual cycles and some concern from women whose cycles looked a little different.
Know this: Very few women have a perfect menstrual cycle every single month.
This is because there are so many factors that influence ovulation – stress, excess weight loss, grief, lack of appetite, exercise, medication, the list goes on. For this reason, the body simply tries to ovulate until it eventually gets the job done. This may mean it attempts the deed several times until it actually completes the job. To you, this will look like variations of fertile mucus that come and go over a week or two depending on the situation. What this should also do in a healthy situation is push your ovulation out. So where ordinarily you would ovulate on cycle day (CD) 14, you may find yourself ovulating on CD20. For this to be a healthy fertile cycle, we would hope to see the luteal phase (from ovulation to menstruation) be at least 11 days, meaning that we wouldn’t potentially see a period until at least cycle day 31. In this situation, if you did see the period arrive on it’s normal cycle day of 28, your luteal phase would be too short hormonally and inadequate for fertilisation of an embryo. You see – the body has got it all figured out!
But if you are finding you are ovulating later in the month and having a short luteal phase, it’s a good idea to try and figure out exactly what your body is telling you. In every instance, it shows that your progesterone levels are inadequate and can’t maintain a strong luteal phase. How we go about fixing that, however, will differ for everybody – which is why products like vitex may or may not work for you, because it is an individual situation.
But how about those with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)? I’m not finished with you by a long shot! Good news is, the methods I talk about in the healthtalks clip can be applied to anybody trying to conceive. Just remember, if you feel wet cervical mucus – your body is at least trying to ovulate. And if you are trying for a baby, no matter when you see that mucus, go for gold, my friend!
Whether it is PCOS or other ovulatory issues, the same principles apply in terms of diet and lifestyle. They are all outlined in my e-book, Fertilise Yourself (let’s not forget there are also 25 recipes in there too to have you on your fertile way) and are pretty much the same across the board, however, PCOS does require some specific details.
Insulin resistance adds a level of complexity. There is a link between PCO/S and sugar. Whilst the cause of PCO/S is unknown, what is well understood is that by altering your sugar intake, your symptoms of PCOS are decreased dramatically. Thankfully my friend Sarah Wilson has her book all about sugar and quitting with some pretty delicious recipes too – you can check that out here. In short, insulin is produced by your body and is a normal response to rising blood glucose levels. Its main function is to reduce the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucagon is also secreted by the same organ and does the opposite. The secretion of both hormones is controlled by the amount of sugar in the blood. So – to cut a very long story short, insulin acts on the ovary to make testosterone. This is a necessary body function as testosterone is required for the body to go and make the female hormone oestrogen. Characteristically, women with PCO generally have higher blood insulin levels, which have an affect on the ovary, meaning that they overproduce testosterone. High levels of this lead to lots of symptoms including lack of menstruation, facial hair, weight gain and acne. Given this, it is very important to treat women and regulate their hormones. TCM does this very well.
Bottom line: Excess sugar intake increases testosterone production and increases PCO symptoms. Lessening sugar for those of you with PCO is key.
But what happens if you don’t have PCO and you still have irregular cycles. I’d take a guess and say stress in some way is affecting your body and this is simply its way of telling you it’s time to get things right. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine do a wonderful job of addressing and treating stress – as I always say you can’t in every case remove stress, but we can implement ways to assist our body coping with it.
What is your body telling you? What changes may you need to make for better health? I’d love to hear your story, I’m sure it will help create great discussion and inspire other women into action to take charge of their fertility.
Image via @suzisousa17