Most women experience a cycle that is 21 to 35 days in length. Perfectly normal, right?
Although we may think straying outside of a 28 day cycle length is perfectly fine for fertility, these variations can actually be problematic for healthy conception — and in some cases can decrease your chances of conceiving by up to 50%.
Having a shorter cycle can negatively impact your chance for conception and can even impact your ability to sustain a pregnancy.
Three main consequences of shorter cycles include lower egg quality, inability to sustain a pregnancy, and early ovulation.
1. Lower Egg Quality
Short cycles have been associated with decreased ovarian quality—especially in older women. As you age, your menstrual cycle tends to shorten, particularly during the first part of your cycle before ovulation. During this time, the egg should be maturing and readying itself for ovulation.
If the egg doesn’t have enough time to develop, it may not be fully mature at the time of ovulation. Poor quality eggs lead to poor conception outcomes.
2. Problems Sustaining a Pregnancy
A recent study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that women who had a 30-31 day menstrual cycle were significantly more likely to conceive than those with shorter cycles. Additionally, women who did conceive with shorter cycles were more likely to undergo early pregnancy loss or spontaneous abortion.
The second half of your cycle, also called the luteal phase, is when a fertilized embryo can implant into the uterus. When this part of the cycle is too short, the window for implantation is smaller and the chance for pregnancy diminishes.
3. Early Ovulation
Ovulation day affects your cycle length more than any other factor. Ideally, ovulation should occur on day 14.
Women who ovulate earlier than day 11—even young, otherwise healthy women—may have poor egg quality and follicle function.
Even after ovulation, the follicle has a job to do—produce progesterone. Progesterone is the most important hormone in the second half of your cycle as it allows for implantation to occur and pregnancy to be maintained.
An immature follicle resulting from early ovulation may not produce sufficient progesterone, resulting in early pregnancy loss.
While shorter cycles can seem healthy—especially if they are regular—they can actually be problematic for your fertility. You may experience lower egg quality, issues maintaining a pregnancy, and early ovulation as a result of a cycle less than 28 days in length.
Although these three consequences may seem scary, they can all be remedied by regulating hormone function through lifestyle improvements. Conceivable can help you identify problem areas and establish customized solutions, all the while lengthening your cycle to 28 days and establishing optimal fertility.