Last month I attended the Fertility Show in London, (you may have seen me on the Fertility Massage Therapy stand). I love doing these shows as it is great to hear people’s thoughts and answer questions that they may be too embarrassed to ask other people. It also shows me how many incredible potential parents there are out there who don’t yet have their family and re-affirms the work I do.
At the end of this year’s show, another exhibitor asked me “I get that you can help periods, but I don’t understand what you are doing here, periods have nothing to do with fertility” before walking off and not giving me the opportunity to explain to her the crucial links.
It later occurred to me that if someone working in the fertility field doesn’t know the link between period health and fertility, then people who are just looking into fertility may not either.
I could write a dissertation on this but here are my top 5 crucial points about how periods reflect fertility:
1. The Amount of Blood, Viscosity (Thickness & Stickiness), Colour and Length of Bleed
The blood that is shed is the old endometrium so we can tell a lot about the quality of womb lining from this. This should be bright red, a proper flow and last 3-7 days. If you are bleeding less than three days, then your lining may not be thick enough for implantation and could highlight the need for further investigation.
If you have darker blood, then you could have old impacted endometrium that is not shedding, meaning there is less healthy endometrium for the egg to implant on. Fertility & Womb Massage Therapy can be great for this along with womb steams, yoga and castor oil packs.
Dark purple blood can indicate oestrogen dominance and light pink blood can indicate low oestrogen. There are other period colours that can suggest other issues with your menstrual health.
If you have a very long bleed, this could be a sign of a number of hormonal imbalances that we can refer you on to your doctors for investigation. All of these imbalances can affect fertility from making it hard to get pregnant, stay pregnant or even be a sign of no ovulation.
Learning what a “normal” or “healthy” period looks like is essential for understanding your cycle.
2. No Period At All or Irregular Periods
Unless you are on the pill or in the post partum recovery period, not having a period is a sign of something not quite right with your hormones. It could be that you are making the right hormones and structural restriction is stopping them from travelling around the body, it could also be that you need to give yourself a better chance of making hormones by eating the right foods.
Either way, irregular or no periods are often a sign of sub-fertility and should be looked into for both your health and your pregnancy.
Spotting tends to happen just before a period or around ovulation. In some cases it can be a sign of super fertility, but in other cases, it can be a sign of either an oestrogen issue, either too much or too little or progesterone insufficiency.
It could also be a sign of thyroid issues, and having a healthy, well functioning thyroid is essential for embryo growth in the womb.
4. Painful Periods
There are so many causes of painful periods, but common ones include micronutrient deficiencies (the same ones you need for good egg quality), adhesions and constriction in the pelvic area, which prevents the womb from emptying the old lining properly, and prevents oxygen and nutrients getting to the womb area in the quantities needed for a lining that can nourish an egg.
Pain can also be caused or exacerbated by inflammation. Inflammation can be caused by stress, lack of sleep and nutritional issues.
Despite PMS being considered so normal, that it is socially acceptable to make jokes about it (personally I disagree with making fun of those with hormonal imbalances), it is a sign of a hormonal imbalance (oestrogen dominance) that can make staying pregnant more difficult because it causes a shortened luteal phase (luteal phase defect).
It can also be a sign of certain micronutrient deficiencies such as B6, one of the many B vitamins many people tend to be deficient in along with B9 and B12. PMS isn’t just a mood killer, and can have a big impact on your life but there are things to do which can help it.
I could go on and on with more subtle signs and, there is much to be learnt about the whole menstrual cycle and how it affects your health and fertility. Personally, I think that in a way we are lucky that we have a window in to our health and fertility by having our periods, and learning to interpret what these things are saying means that we can fix the issues before we try for a baby.
If you want to learn about how to understand your menstrual cycle, I have a course you can take here. If you would like some help with your fertility journey or figuring out what you need to do for your pregnancy preparation, you can book in a session with me or visit me at the Guildford Clinic drop me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).