Understanding how endometriosis affects your period

Endometriosis can interfere with your menstrual cycle in a number of ways. Starting right from Day 1 of your cycle, endometriosis on or around your ovary can interfere with your egg production. If you're not planning on getting pregnant, you may say, "So what?" But the whole purpose of the menstrual cycle is the maturation, release, and implantation of an egg. Disrupting the process in any way impacts your periods.

Although the exact reasons aren't clear, endometriosis in and around the ovaries can interfere with your period by

^ Keeping a maturing egg from producing enough hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone. When hormone levels are lower than they should be, your periods may be shorter than normal.

^ Destroying part of or the entire ovary, leading to early menopause, a lack of ovulation, long cycles (more than 35 days apart), or irregular bleeding.

^ Causing inflammation that produces toxins that interfere with egg growth and maturation.

What do short menstrual cycles mean?

What's worse than having periods every four weeks? Having periods every three weeks! When cycles are less than 21 days, a woman is said to have polymenorrhea. Short cycles are more than an inconvenience; they can be a sign of luteal phase defect, or early ovulation. (See the sidebar "Luteal phase defect: Running out of progesterone" and Chapter 7 for more on this condition and pregnancy.)

Women with short menstrual cycles may also be more likely to develop endometriosis if they don't already have it. This connection may exist because of the retrograde menstruation theory (see Chapter 4 for more about this theory). Bleeding more frequently means that more blood spills into the pelvis, giving endometriosis more chances to grow where it doesn't belong.

An occasional short cycle is nothing to worry about, but you may want to be / tested if your cycles are repeatedly short (less than 25 days apart). When f^lllO periods start less than 14 days after ovulation, you have luteal phase defect, xj/y/ which can affect your ability to get pregnant.

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