We all know that menstruation and fertility are interlinked. Riya is one among us, who had her first period when she was too young to understand what it meant. At that tender age, she despised the monthly visitor that caused so much discomfort. In fact, she was quite thrilled when it started getting irregular. On the other hand, her mom was anxious throughout and took her to several doctors to find a solution to this irregularity. It was only later, post-marriage that Riya understood that all her problems were caused by PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Had she known this before, she might have been able to get early treatment and an earlier solution. Fortunately, she was able to conceive naturally, but many might not be so lucky.
In our growing up years as a girl, we are made to understand that menstruation is necessary to procreate. But did you know that merely having your periods every month does not necessarily mean that all’s well with you? To put it simply, even those who have their menstruation cycles regularly could suffer from Infertility. How is that possible? Let me explain.
What is Menstrual Cycle?
It is a series of changes that your body undergoes month after month during which the ovary releases an egg and the uterus prepares for pregnancy. Sounds simple, right? Yet, this extremely simple process can get awfully messed up and throw your fertility off track.
How is Menstruation and Fertility are Inter-linked?
The length of the cycle determines whether the hormones are in balance and ovulation is normal. When there are hormonal imbalances, ovulation is affected and thereby conception becomes difficult. While the normal range is between 21- 35 days, some women have it shorter (in less than 21 days), while for others it gets delayed beyond 35 days. In some women, bleeding could last for over a week.
When young girls experience irregular periods or intense pain during periods, mothers tend to convince them to bear it saying they had it worse during their times. But what is ignored during the earlier years can get complicated over time. When finally after marriage the girl experiences difficulty is getting pregnant, it might get a bit tedious to get it cured.
It is important that all mothers, girls and young women understand what is normal and when it is time to consult a gynecologist. Let’s understand some basics:
Short cycles: It means ovaries have fewer eggs and menopause may be around the corner. Most of us think menopause comes knocking only after 50. This is wrong. When the number of eggs in the ovary decreases, the brains release more FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone) to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. This means early follicle development and early ovulation and therefore early periods too. Sometimes, bleeding may even occur without ovulation.
Longer Cycles: This means ovulation is not occurring in the way it should. If the follicle does not mature and ovulate, progesterone is not released and therefore no bleeding. On the other hand, the uterus wall continuous to get thicker because of estrogen. Finally, the wall gets too thick and eventually breaks and bleeding occurs. In this case, the bleeding may be prolonged. Why does this happen? Problems with the thyroid gland could be one cause while PCOS could be another.
Prolonged Bleeding: This could be because of improper ovulation as already mentioned. It could also be caused by fibroids, cancer or even infection in the uterus. When a woman in such a condition gets pregnant, chances of miscarriage are very high.
It is very essential to be aware and not ignore any early signs of problems with the menstrual cycle. If ignored, these can flare up and lead to bigger problems when it is time to conceive. It is quite common for many women to think that any problems with menstruation can be solved when one gets pregnant. Well, to tell you the truth, menstrual problems will make conception difficult. I have heard many mothers complaining that their young daughters have severe pain and cramping during their periods. But when I suggested that they should probably meet a specialist they laughed it out saying that you can never have a pain-free period. Again, there are young girls who after their first period don’t bleed for several months. Even this is considered normal when actually it is not. And you will be surprised that even when you think everything’s in place and your periods are neither long nor short with no excessive bleeding, you may still experience problems in conceiving just as I did.
The best thing to do is to consult a doctor as soon as you notice something amiss. It is also advisable to consult a specialist before marriage to understand if all your hormones, especially the ones that help you conceive are in balance. Of course, it goes without saying that a healthy balanced diet and lots of water every day, helps you keep fit and problems at bay. Small steps taken early on can prevent bigger problems in future.