Hello! I have a question and would appreciate anyone's thoughts... I have rarely had periods. I use to get one every few months when I was a teenager but never anything I could count on. I wonder how this effects my fertility. i have three children and have been pregnant four times. I don't seem to have trouble getting pregnant. Any thoughts on why that is? I thought periods = fertility.
Well, a true period does mean that ovulation preceded it and ovulation is a big part of fertility. So I would agree that periods=fertility. But if you were getting true periods every few months then that means you were also ovulating every few months and apparently several of those eggs resulted in pregnancy! I'd say that's pretty fertile for someone that doesn't have regular cycles!
Infrequent periods mean something is up with your hormones that causes you not to ovulate for long periods of time. This could be caused by too low body fat, strenuous exercise routine, too high body fat, or a medical condition like PCOS. Progesterone and estrogen are stored in fat so too much or too little of it can disrupt your hormonal cycle. Does that fit you? PCOS often has other symptoms like trouble losing weight, acne, and long stretches of fertile cervical fluid. Do any of those sound familiar?
Have you considered charting your cycles to see what's happening? Or going in for some hormone testing? Are you TTC again or just wondering how your irregular cycles might be affecting the rest of your health?
Thanks for the response. I don't remember having a period at all since I was young (teenager) I don't exercise strenuously, my weight is normal. I would have seen a doctor about it by now but I tend to keep away from them and UP/UC. ...I don't have acne and never have... I don't know about cervical fluid and what would be considered normal. I thought charting would be difficult without any bleeding. Mostly, I'm just wondering what is up. My sister is TTC but has so frequent periods it is difficult for her to do so. We joke that she gets my periods for me. I'll look into PCOS...
Huh! That is a real mystery! Do you think your body absorbs the uterine lining instead of shedding it? Obviously you do ovulate at least some time and ovulation is followed by menstruation. I didn't realize you could have one without the other... If I were you I would definitely start charting to see what in the world is happening. It's possible that you won't get a normal pattern b/c of whatever is going on, but it would be very interesting to see! I would suggest your sister do the same. Extremely frequent periods can definitely get in the way of TTC b/c she may ovulate very early in her cycle, which can cause potential issues with her eggs and uterine lining and/or she could have a very short luteal phase, which would cause her to have repeated chemical pregnancies. It's also possible that her bleeding is not menstrual, but hormonal breakthrough bleeding caused by annovulatory cycles.
If you or your sister would like help getting going with charting, just post!
Generally, you start the first day of red blood, which is cycle day 1. But since you're not bleeding, I would just pick a day and go for it. Pick up a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler at the library (or buy it). You don't need to read it cover to cover to get started, but it really is an excellent resource.
You can pick up a basal body thermometer (BBT) at your local drug store. Some are better than others. I prefer ones that take longer than 30 seconds (they seem more accurate to me) and can hold two temperatures in memory (this is especially handy when you wake up, temp, and go back to sleep- you can look at and record the temp later). The Walgreens thermometer gets generally bad reviews. BD gets good reviews.
When temping you want to focus on a few things: taking it at the same time each morning (within 30 minutes); taking it after a solid block of sleep (3 hours is usually recommended); and making sure that you don't get out of bed, sit up, drink water, or fall asleep before or while temping. So basically you just wake up, roll over, temp, and go back to sleep or get up.
Some women are really sensitive to changes in sleep patterns or ambient temperature (like if your room is hot one morning and not the next or you wake up snuggled under a warm blanket and the next are out of the covers). But other women find that they can see their pattern despite numerous night wakings, not getting a 3 hour block of sleep prior to temping, or environmental changes. Other things that can affect temp- pretty much the same things that can delay ovulation: travel, stress, diet changes, injury, illness, and strenuous exercise.
Next, cervical fluid (CF) is something you can observe throughout the day- whenever you feel it, whenever you see it (while wiping, on your panties), etc. Here is my general guide to CF:
Dry: you'll feel dry all day and there is nothing on your panties
Sticky: you'll generally feel dry and there will be a bit of staining- usually yellow- on your panties. It might be a bit crumbly or clumpy.
Creamy: generally you'll feel a little wet, lotiony in texture, could be slippery when you wipe, often it will stand up on your panties
Wet: you'll feel wet and your panties will likely be wet- maybe even soak through, may look like skim milk (I rarely get this)
Eggwhite: you might actually feel it slipping out of you throughout the day and it might fall out of you while using the bathroom, stretchy- it may stretch from you to the TP for several inches- and usually clear or yellow tinted, often quite profuse
Temp and CF are the two basic fertility signs you need to chart. There are other signs you can record like cervical position (CP), but it's not necessary unless your temps and CF are not showing a clear pattern.
So what you're going to see is a group of low temps from the start of AF, which is cycle day 1 (CD 1) until the day after ovulation (O) when you should see a spike in temp or steady climb to a higher group of temps. The days between O and AF are called your luteal phase (LP). Generally it is said that you need at least 10 days to sustain a pregnancy. The average length is 12-14 days. Your LP will not vary much- usually just by one or two days cycle to cycle. But your O day could vary considerably. So when you see O on your chart you can then predict when AF should show based on your average LP length. If you go 3 days past your longest LP length then that is an excellent sign of pregnancy. If you get 18 high temps after O that is 99% accurate- just like an HPT.
Likewise your CF will go from dry just after AF to sticky, to creamy, to EW as O approaches. You may or may not go through all the different types of CF prior to O or you could skip from dry to creamy or dry to EW. You might have many days of creamy and one or two of EW or you might have 3 or 4 days of EW with hardly any creamy. It all depends on the woman and that particular cycle. But after O you will dry up. It could be instantaneous- like the day of the spike you're dry. Or it could decrease slower- EW to creamy to stick to dry. But usually you will dry up within a few days and then may or may not experience a few more days of creamy or even wet/EW later in your LP, just prior to AF.
Anyway, that should get you started! Post if you have questions and use www.fertilityfriend.com to share your chart! Good luck!