Guess what? Over 40 factors can affect your fertility – and one of the biggest predictors of your fertility is your menstrual cycle. If your cycle isn’t regular, then there’s a good chance you have trouble ovulating and your uterine lining isn’t optimal for implantation.
There’s a whole bunch of menstrual cycle characteristics that can affect your fertility.
Here are the 4 I find have the GREATEST impact on your fertility:
- Cycle regularity
- Cycle length
- Quality of menstrual blood
- Symptoms like PMS, cramping
So why do these signs and symptoms matter?
How do they affect your fertility?
Well if your cycle is regular, then you have an increased chance at ovulating regularly. That means you can predict your ovulation and time your intercourse to maximize your fertile potential. According to 1 scientific study, women with irregular cycles had only ¼ the chance of getting pregnant each month as those with normal cycles1.
The length of your cycle allows for enough time for the egg to grow big and strong and mature and for your uterine lining to grow thick enough for implantation. If your cycle is short or long, then this will affect your fertility by 50%2.
The quality of your menstrual blood – like the color and the amount is an indicator of the health of your uterine lining. If you’re producing a lot of clots, or bleeding too much or too little signifies that your uterine lining is not optimal.
Symptoms like PMS and cramping are good indicators of your hormonal health. If you’re experiencing any negative symptoms, and PMS is most certainly a negative symptom, then your hormones are imbalanced. Women with fertility issues report symptoms like PMS and cramping at a higher rate than women who don’t experience symptoms.
Now you understand the importance of having a regular menstrual cycle.
Let’s look at what a regular menstrual cycle SHOULD look like.
Ideal Menstrual Cycle:
- 28 days long
- Ovulation occurring on cycle day 14.
- You should notice abundant, clear, stretchy cervical fluid right around ovulation time.
- Your period should last for 4 days, no more and no less, with enough blood to soak a tampon or pad every 4 hours.
- You shouldn’t experience any PMS, pain, clotting, cramping, or spotting.
If your cycle does not look like this, don’t freak out. This is just something to get close to. Your cycle doesn’t have to look exactly like this to increase your fertility. But the closer you are, the higher your chance of getting pregnant naturally.
In my clinical experience, 70% of women are able to get their cycle to look like this. When your cycle looks like a fertile cycle, you’re basically cheating and stacking the fertility odds in your favor.
So the big question you’re asking yourself right now is, “What can I do to make my cycle look like this?”
That’s a great question.
I’m going to lay out a 2 part solution you can implement to start taking control of your menstrual cycle.
Part 1: Self Care
You have quite a few different areas of your life that you can directly control. The big 4 are how you eat, how much you sleep, how you exercise and lastly, how you manage your stress.
I don’t have enough time to give you every single detail about how to overhaul your entire lifestyle but I can give you some targets to aim for in each specific area.
Eating – How you eat is directly under your control – focus on eating meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. I know this is such a distilled down and simplified look at nutrition (which can be really tricky) but if you focus on the basics – eating the rainbow of veggies, eating a palm sized portion of protein with your meals and limiting your starch…. Then you’re moving in the right direction.
Eating like this helps to control your blood sugar, which in turn helps to regulate your hormonal system.
Sleep – Sleep is easy – you need it and you probably aren’t getting enough of it. So set a bed time and stick to it. Seriously. You need 8-10 hours of sleep, and I promise you that even if you think you do well with just 6…. you don’t. Get this, one single night of poor sleep can make your blood sugar levels look like that of a diabetic3. So there are some serious hormonal impacts to not getting enough sleep. Set a bed time, turn off the phone and tv an hour before bed, dim the lights. Get your sleep!
Exercise – Exercise is another easy one. You need to do it and you probably aren’t doing enough. There is some good news though. You don’t need to work out like Arnold Schwarzeneggeror or The Rock. But you do need to move your body at least 3 times per week. Just think how much time you spend sitting each day, 8 hours minimum at work, then you come home and sit and watch TV, then you lay in bed. Most of your life is spent not moving. So to combat this inactivity you need to move your body!
Shoot for a 30 minute walk as many days a week as you can and 3 days of some kind of strength training. I promise you that strength training 3 times a week will not make you look bulky. But it will help to regulate your hormones. So just do it. Join a gym, or find a trainer or follow a YouTube video with weights. There are plenty of options! We have some great trainers we can recommend.
Stress – Stress can have a HUGE impact on your menstrual cycle and your overall fertility. Trying to grow your family can be really stressful. A study published in Human Reproduction in 2013 showed that perceived stress and anxiety levels were high among all women undergoing in vitro Fertilization (IVF) . The good news is that there is a whole lot that you can do to reduce that stress!
There are 2 things you can do, at home to help manage your stress. The first, exercise, is something I’ve already covered. The second is something called, Mindful Meditation. Now mindful meditation isn’t some hippy weirdo woo woo stuff. It’s actually a really simple and well studied technique to bring you to the present moment. It’s all about being aware of your body and the sensations you are feeling. The best part is, you can download a Free app on your phone that will guide you on a short 10 minute journey that will relax your body and your mind. I recommend you download 2 different apps: Headspace and Oak. See which one works best for you. Just take 10 minutes out of everyday and do it!
So that is my exhaustive list of what you can do at home to help get your body working optimally. But sometimes that just isn’t enough… so let’s talk about another option!
Part 2: Extra Help!
So when self care isn’t enough on it’s own, it’s time to really bring in the big guns. Did you know that Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine has been used for over 2000 years to increase fertility?
In Chinese Medicine, the female menstrual cycle is cherished and used as a key indicator of overall hormonal health.
Well guess what?
Those Chinese literally wrote down 2000 years of written case histories and observation by the brightest medical minds in China.
Even better is that modern medical research has confirmed that Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine are super effective at increasing fertility.
So this second step is actually pretty easy – find an Acupuncturist in your local area (If you’re in Tampa, FL then give me a call at 813-534-0311) and get setup with a treatment plan to regulate your cycle and increase your fertility.
When someone comes to see me for fertility acupuncture I always start with a very in depth health history. I’ll want to know what your cycle currently looks like, how long you’ve been trying to get pregnant, any lab tests you’ve had done and what your goals and timeline are.
Realistically, for about 70% of women we are able to get their cycle looking close to a fertile cycle in about 90 days with our recommended treatment program. If you’re doing things naturally (not currently taking any medications for undergoing IVF or ART procedures) then our recommend program is generally 12 weeks long and includes acupuncture twice a week along with a custom chinese herbal medicine formula.
Our goal is to reduce your stress, regulate your hormones, help you grow a nice strong healthy egg and a good uterine lining. This doesn’t happen overnight which is why we work in 12 week cycles.
Now you have an action plan – get started with the self care section RIGHT NOW and if you need some extra help then do not hesitate to call my clinic at 813-534-0311 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to get setup with a complimentary phone consultation to see if we can help.
1. Kolstad HA, Bonde JP, Hjøllund NH, Jensen TK, Henriksen TB, Ernst E, Giwercman A, Skakkebaek NE, Olsen J. Menstrual cycle pattern and fertility: a prospective follow-up study of pregnancy and early embryonal loss in 295 couples who were planning their first pregnancy. Fertil Steril. 1999 Mar; 71(3):490-6. PubMed PMID: 10065787.
2. Brodin T, Bergh T, Berglund L, Hadziosmanovic N, Holte J. Menstrual cycle length is an age-independent marker of female fertility: results from 6271 treatment cycles of in vitro fertilization. Fertil Steril. 2008 Nov;90(5):1656-61. Epub 2007 Dec 21. PubMed PMID: 18155201
3. Obesity Society. “Insulin sensitivity: One night of poor sleep could equal six months on a high-fat diet, study in dogs suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151104134039.htm>