Short Menstrual Cycle

Pregnancy Challenges of a Short Menstrual Cycle

Most women look at a short menstrual cycle as a blessing but in truth, in some cases it could be a sign of something wrong.  Most women have a cycle that lasts between five and seven days.  During that time, blood flow is usually heavy for the first three to four days, which then tapers off and on the last day, virtually disappears.  For the entire month, the average woman has a 28-day cycle, which includes the actual period but also ovulation and the time when bleeding does not occur.

While a short menstrual cycle might not seem like a big deal, for the woman who wants to have children it is.  After all, the menstrual plays a key role in hormonal balances so when the schedule is off, conception can be challenging.  Just as a short cycle would make it difficult to get pregnant, long cycles can also cause problems.  To understand how this works, we wanted to provide a little more detailed information.

For starters, a woman’s menstrual cycle consists of the ovulatory phase and the luteal phase.  In the first phase during the 28-day cycle, reproductive hormones start to prepare the body so ovulation can occur, which is when an egg is released.  For the lining of the uterus to create the necessary surface on which a fertilized egg would implant, circulation to the reproductive organs increases.  Once the first phase ends, other hormones are released to help support a warm and safe fertile environment for the egg.

Next, the second phase begins, which serves a very different purpose.  If the egg were not fertilized, hormones released during the luteal phase would subside, at which time endometrium starts, followed by the menstrual cycle.  For two weeks of the 28-day cycle, a hormone called estrogen takes control.  However, after ovulation, production of this hormone diminishes and a different hormone called progesterone starts to be produced.  These two hormones must work hand-in-hand to create the ideal scenario for pregnancy.

Now, if a woman has a hormonal imbalance of these two hormones, then her cycle would be off.  However, when it comes to a short menstrual cycle, the problem would be directly related to the luteal phase.  If production of progesterone were reduced, the normal 28-day cycle would shorten to just 12 to 14 days.  Because of this, the other phase involving release of the egg so a woman could become pregnant would be off schedule.  Therefore, when dealing with a short menstrual cycle, trying to become pregnant would be extremely difficult.

In more severe cases, some women will have a short menstrual cycle in which the luteal phase is 10 days or less.  In his case, a luteal phase defect is likely, also referred to as LPD.  For the woman trying to conceive a child, fertility assistance would be needed to address this problem.  Considering that the cycle in this case would literally be 50% of what it should be, integrity of the endometrium is compromised.  As a result, lining of the uterus is not fully developed to support a fertilized egg and when implantation does occur, risk of miscarriage is greatly increased.

For women who have a short menstrual cycle wanting to get pregnant, it would be essential to work with a highly qualified fertility specialist.  Trying to conceive without assistance would only lead to heartbreak month after month as pregnancy tests come back negative.  Typically, when a woman has a difficult time getting pregnant, the doctor would start the process of screening FSH levels, which confirms if hormone levels are normal or too low.  If the doctor determines progesterone production is low, the next step would involve developing course of action whereby pregnancy would be possible.