The menstrual cycle is the backbone of your road to conception. Alterations or problems with even the most basic aspect of your cycle throw everything off kilter. This can decrease your chances of conception or even make it near impossible. There are different types of problems that can occur with your cycle.Amenorrhea
Amenorrhea is the lack of a menstrual cycle. If you have never had a menstrual cycle, it is said that you have primary amenorrhea. If you have previously had regular menstrual cycles but have not had one for more than six months, you are said to be experiencing secondary amenorrhea. You may have had previously irregular cycles but have not had a menstrual cycle for twelve months — that is also known as secondary amenorrhea.
It's important to distinguish between the types of amenorrhea — the causes of the two are very different. And likewise, the testing and treatments for amenorrhea are different depending on whether you are suffering from primary or secondary loss of menstrual cycles.
Secondary amenorrhea is the more likely suspect of your fertility problem. Your amenorrhea can be caused by something as simple as the medication you are on. A complex issue related to your hormone production can also produce secondary amenorrhea. Testing by your practitioner will help determine the cause of your lack of menstrual cycle in about 85 percent of the cases.
Many women complain about lack of periods in the time immediately after they stop taking the pill. This is usually something that will correct itself in time. Generally within the first six months of discontinuation, more than 99 percent of women will find that their periods return.
Hormonal imbalances are the most common cause of secondary amenorrhea. For example, when prolactin levels are elevated, then the other hormones necessary for keeping your cycle regular are thrown off kilter and your periods may stop.
There are other hormonal causes of secondary amenorrhea. These include hypothyroidism and Cushing's disease. In hypothyroidism, your body isn't producing enough of the thyroid hormones which can alter your periods. With Cushing's disease your adrenal glands are overactive causing hormonal fluctuations that prevent your menstrual cycles. Rapid weight loss can also be associated with the loss of your menstrual cycle. Losing a significant amount of weight or body fat in a short time can cause your body to stop ovulating. This is particularly a danger if you suffer from anorexia nervosa. Excessive amounts of exercise — marathon running, for example — can also alter your hormones enough to affect your fertility.
Asherman's syndrome can cause secondary amenorrhea following uterine surgery — a D&C, a myomectomy, or a cesarean section (or anything that requires cutting into the uterus or uterine lining).Luteal Phase Defect (LPD)
A luteal phase defect occurs when the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle is not long enough to allow a pregnancy to occur. It can be recognized through basal body temperature charting. A luteal phase defect may also be suspected if you suffer from inadequate progesterone to maintain the lining of your uterus in the luteal phase of your cycle. The latter may also relate to chronic or habitual early miscarriages.
Once a luteal phase defect is correctly identified treatment is usually quite successful. This can be done usually very easily in the form of progesterone supplementation. Only your practitioner can help you definitively diagnose and treat a luteal phase defect.