How Does a Light Period Affect Fertility? And what to do to fix it
Your body talks to you every day, all day. It’s telling you what it likes, what it doesn’t like, if something’s wrong, if everything’s perfect. You wake up in the morning, you’ve got great energy, you had a good night’s sleep, nothing hurts, you’re feeling great, you have regular bowel movements. These are all signs. And your body’s always talking to you, telling you how you’re doing and what’s going on. One of the most important ways that your body talks to you as a woman is through your menstrual cycle. Yes, and if we don’t pay attention, if we don’t listen, we won’t know what it’s saying and we won’t know what to do about it. How your menstrual cycle is, the length of it, the quality, the discomfort. Do you have PMs? Do you not? Is the pain severe or not? Are there clots or not? These are all ways that your body is talking to you and we need to understand what it all means.
The timing of your period, the amount, the frequency, these are all things that can vary throughout your reproductive life cycle. So as you age, these are all things that can shift and change, and they are all influenced by many, many variables. But what happens when your period is too short? Or too light? Or has too much pain? Or irregular? That means you’re not menstruating or operating at a consistent and predictable time. What does this all mean? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today. So let’s talk about what your body is telling you through your menstruation and through your cycles. And then let’s also talk about what you can do about it.
My name is Dr. Marc Sklar, also known as The Fertility Expert, and welcome to Fertility TV, your YouTube channel dedicated to helping you get pregnant. I’ve been working with couples from all over the world for the last 18 years through my online health coaching program and right here in San Diego at both of my clinics. And before we dive deeper into this topic about irregular cycles or lighter menstrual bleeds, I want to let you know that my Hope Fertility Coaching Program is open for enrollment. So if you want to see if you qualify to work with me and my team to create a personalized plan to help you get pregnant, then all you have to do is use the link in the description below to apply.
So the inspiration for this video was actually all of you. All of you submitted questions or topics I should say for the topics or the information that you want me to cover, and this specific topic about light menstrual periods was one of the big ones that kept getting repeated over and over, which is why I’m talking about it today. Now, before we get into the description of what a light period is, we kind of also need to talk about what a normal, healthy period should look like. So a normal period, a healthy menstrual cycle should be 28 days. You may have heard me say this in other videos, but we’ll reiterate it today for all of you who haven’t heard it before. So your cycle should be 28 days. And anytime someone ever asks you, how long is your menstrual cycle or how long is your cycle? What that means is we’re counting from the first day of bleed to the next first day of bleed. So the first, day one of your bleed, can’t also be the last day of your last cycle. It’s either one or the other.
The other question that gets asked often as well, what happens if I start like midday or in the afternoon or evening? How do I count that? So my rule of thumb, just to keep it easy for everybody is as long as you start sometime before two or three in the afternoon, then that counts as day one. If it’s much later than that, then we shift the next day to day one, so the day that you wake up bleeding is considered day one. If you also start off with just a little bit of spotting or very light bleeding, but then the next day it turns into more of a full flow, that’s considered day one.
And then we count that cycle, the length of that cycle to the next day one of your cycle. And so hopefully what we’re looking for is that is a 28 to 30 day cycle. That is actually what is ideal. And just to also be clear, you ovulate mid cycle, typically somewhere between day 13, 14 or 15, but everybody ovulates a little bit differently. So you do need to track that on your own. And then when you bleed, what we’d like to see is somewhere between a four to seven day bleed. We’d like to see that it maybe has like one day of lighter as you’re starting, or just kind of start slowly in the day, but then picks up as the day goes on. But technically that it starts heavier and more full flow and then tapers off as the days go on. That is what the length of the bleed should look like. And then in terms of color, it should be nice, bright red for all of you. If it does get darker, it should get darker as you taper along throughout your cycle or your bleed.
So what is a light bleed then or a light period? Well, first and foremost, it means you’re bleeding for less than, in this case four days. So if you’re only bleeding for one, two or three days, it’s probably a lighter flow. Now the only exception to this that I will say is that if, and this does count some of those spotting days as you taper, so that length, when we say five day bleed, it means all the days that you’re bleeding for. So the only exception I’ll make to that is if you’re … Those days, those first two, three days are really, really heavy then maybe I wouldn’t consider that a lighter period.
But typically, a lighter period is not just in the amount of days that you’re bleeding for, but also in the quantity that you’re bleeding. So you should be changing your pad. And I’m going to specifically say pad here, because I don’t like it when anyone uses a tampon. But you should be changing your pad or have to empty your cup, if you’re using a cup, about once every three to four hours in the beginning. And then as those days goes on, you should be able to change it much less frequently so that should be able to happen less. Now, if you are only changing it once a day or twice a day, or you only need a liner because you’re not bleeding very heavy, that is what we would consider a very light period or a light period. And those are things that we want to start to investigate a little bit deeper. We want to understand why you’re having a lighter period and then potentially start to make changes to impact that and improve not only the amount of days that you’re bleeding, but also the quantity, the volume of blood that you’re bleeding.
So now that we’ve talked about what a light period is defined as, and what a normal period is defined as, let’s talk about some of the reasons that might contribute to your period changing or just being light to begin with. So the first thing that I want to talk about, or the first reason is stress. Now stress is a common, common thing for all of us in this day and age. We have stress in a myriad of ways. And certainly if you’re going through fertility treatments or trying to conceive, and it’s been taking a little bit longer than you’d like, then certainly stress starts to creep up, starts to impact your daily life and how you feel. And it can absolutely impact your menstrual cycle. Now often the way it impacts your menstrual cycle is actually by making it shorter or a lighter, which is what we’re talking about today, which is why I’m bringing that up. Stress is a very, very big deal. And I don’t expect any of you to get rid of all your stress, but I do think we can manage it better.
The second major reason why you might start to have light periods is because of your thyroid function. Your thyroid function is actually a big part of your endocrine system, and it helps you maintain balance and homeostasis both in how you feel energy-wise and your body temperature. But one of the other things that it can absolutely impact is your hormones and your menstrual cycle. And I’ve often seen that when our thyroid is not functioning properly, that many of you might start to have shorter cycles, shorter bleeds or lighter bleeds. So one of the key things that we need to figure out is how your thyroid is functioning. I’m going to talk about testing in just a little bit, but this will always be part of it. So I want you to all, to make sure that you advocate for more thyroid testing and that you pay close attention to how your thyroid is functioning.
The third big cause for a light period is polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCSOS. Now I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about PCOS or actually even thyroid issues or many of these conditions. I have many other videos already created on these exact topics. So if you want more information on thyroid function or PCOS, you can check out those videos over here or search my YouTube channel after this video is done. But PCOS is and can contribute to light menstrual bleeds. So this is one of the more common, if not the most common female endocrine disorder around. And so this is a condition where our hormones are not functioning properly and a very common reason to have irregular menstrual cycles. But in addition to that, lighter periods as well.
Now I’m going to talk a little bit later about irregular cycles. So again, I’m not going to get into detail about PCOS, but if you do have PCOS, then that’s a common reason why you might have lighter periods. It doesn’t mean that we have to be accepting of those lighter periods. It just means that’s a reason why. And once we start to support your hormones better and regulate and improve the PCOS, then we can often see your menstrual bleed improve as well.
Another cause, but one none of us like to hear or talk about is actually early menopause. Now this can happen for a lot of reasons or the diagnosis can be caused lots of different things. So premature ovarian failure or insufficiency, this is another way of saying menopause or early menopause or pre – menopause. Now, I don’t want any of you to jump to conclusions. I’m not suggesting that any of you have that. I just want you to know that this is a potential cause for light periods, because as you get towards menopause, your cycles change, the regularity of your cycles change and the quality of your bleed changes. So if you’re older and your cycles have started and your bleeds have started to change and become lighter then this could be a contributing factor, certainly one that needs to be addressed, supported so that we can improve and enhance your fertility as long as you want to continue to try.
A condition that doesn’t get a lot of attention or get discussed often is called Asherman’s syndrome. Now, many of you actually posted questions or wanted me to talk about Asherman’s syndrome. And I thought this was a great way to do that is to actually pull it into this topic in this video, because we are talking about lighter periods. Now, what Asherman’s syndrome is, is scarring in the endometrium of the tissue. And that typically happens after you’ve had, what’s called a D&C, which would be as a result of a miscarriage or a pregnancy that’s not able to be maintained. Then many women need to have, what’s called a D&C where they help to get your cycles back started if you’re not able to do that on your own.
And it’s basically scraping the endometrium, the tissue out of your uterus to help get you going in the right direction to help you basically bleed. Now, sometimes we do D&Cs or D&Cs are offered as a means just to help clean out the uterus, doesn’t have to be associated with a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, but that’s typically how that happens. And if you’ve had multiple D&Cs, you are more likely to end up with more scar tissue and potentially Asherman’s syndrome. Now, again, I’m not saying all of these things, these causes can’t be treated. I’m just talking about the potential reasons why you might have a light period. And then we can, most of the time, address these things. Now Asherman’s syndrome can be a little bit more challenging to address, but I do find if it’s caught early enough and with the right approach, that it can be supported as well.
Stick with me, I’ve got a couple more points to talk about. So the first one, and I’ll try to be brief here is birth control pills. That’s right. If you’re on the birth control pill, then you could have a lighter period and that’s very purposeful because the pill does that. I have also found that if you’ve had a long or extended use of birth control pill or birth control for that matter, and you come off of it, very often, it’s hard to get a more normal period to start. And that bleed is not always the same.
And then last, but certainly not least, I’m not going to cover all the potential reasons why you might have a light period, but weight changes. So abrupt changes in your weight either too much or too little, or too much of a weight gain or too much of a weight loss I should say, are contributing factors and potential reasons why you might see a shift in your menstrual cycle and the length and quality of your menstrual bleed as well. So these are things that do need to be assessed and then addressed as well.
Now does having a light period affect your fertility? This is a really important question. Now I probably wouldn’t be talking about it if it wasn’t a big deal and impacted your fertility. And I’m not suggesting that having a light period affects everybody’s fertility or can be an issue for everyone trying to conceive, but it can be for some. So if you’ve already been here having an issue and you have a light period, or you have a light period, and then you start to see or notice that your cycles are, or that it’s taking you longer to get pregnant than you would have hoped, then this might be a contributing factor. Now, why is that the case?
Well, we want your endometrium, your uterine lining, your tissue in your uterus to be nice and thick. And if you’re not pregnant, that lining should be shed out and cleaned out. And then the next cycle, you should be able to start fresh and new, building a new lining to have a nice fertile soil for an embryo to implant. Well, if your lining is too thin, then that could be a problem. And one of the signs of a thin lining would be a lighter period. Also, we talked about scar tissue and we’re talking about Asherman’s syndrome. Well, if you’ve got scar tissue, it can prevent your lining from getting thick enough. It can also prevent implantation. So these are all reasons why we need to address this underlying issue and really start to enhance as much as possible, your menstrual bleed and create a healthy menstrual cycle.
Well, what do we do to fix this? Well, first and foremost, we need to understand what’s going on. So I want all of you to take a step back. Most of us know, or if we take some time to analyze our health, our lifestyle, we can usually pinpoint what’s going on, or if something’s changed and then probably pinpoint well, what’s been different? So I want all of you to take a little bit of time first and foremost, to evaluate yourself, your menstrual cycle and your life. What’s going on? Have you seen a recent change? If so, what have you done in the last, let’s say month or two or three? Whatever that timeframe is that you’ve seen a change in your bleed. What have you done that might be contributing to it? Have you gained too much weight and you’re not eating healthy? Have you lost a lot of weight? Do you not feel well? Are you not sleeping well enough? Has stress creeped up?
Like analyze your overall health. We can usually come up with a short list of things that are bothering us, maybe some contributing factors that we need to take into account. And then you have to talk about that with your healthcare provider. What is it that you see that they can support you with, and bring that up and have a real dialogue and conversation.
After you’ve done your self evaluation, we need to do a more thorough evaluation and that always starts with testing. So we need to do testing. Testing is key to getting the proper understanding of what’s causing these problems for ourselves. And then obviously creating a healthy plan to change those and get the results that we want. So testing is very, very important. First and foremost, we need to do some hormone testing. We need to check FSH, LH, estradiol, DHEA, testosterone, progesterone, a myriad of other hormones, which I talked about in plenty of my other videos. But more importantly today, we also talked about thyroid. I want to make sure you all do thorough thyroid check, not just your TSH and T4, but also look at T3 and both the free T3 and free T4. And the ones that are often ignored and forgotten about or left out are the antibodies for your thyroid. So dig deeper, make sure that you do a thorough evaluation of your thyroid and all your other hormones as well.
Additionally, doing a scan of your uterus is also going to be important. Why? Well, we talked about Asherman’s syndrome, we talked about scar tissue. There could be other blockages going on. So I always like to start with an HSG, which just gives us an understanding for the uterine environment and cavity and the fallopian tubes. An ultrasound is always good. But if we really need to see scar tissue, we’re not going to see it on any of those. We actually need to look inside. That means not you looking inside, your OB-GYN, looking inside and with a camera so that they can see with their own eyes if there’s any obstructions or any issues. And again, this is something you should absolutely bring up if you’ve had multiple D&Cs.
And last but not least, well, what do you do with this information? Well, we create a personalized plan for you. Again, with this information, you’ll have the proper knowledge and understanding of what’s contributing to the problems and then be able to make changes to hopefully improve those. Now you might need some support and guidance to help you make that plan and create a proper plan to achieve the results that you want. Again, if you’re looking for additional support and you want me or my team to look at that and support you and help you create a personalized plan for your needs, you can always apply for a discovery call by using the link in the description below.
That’s a lot of information for one video, but I did want to touch on for just a moment, irregular cycles or no cycles whatsoever. This is really important. If you are not having regular cycles, which means they are coming at the same time or interval every month roughly within a couple of days, or you’re not having any period at all, then this is something that needs further investigation. And this has to start with testing. I know many of you are tracking your cycles right now, but if you’re not having a regular cycle, it’s going to be very difficult to track your cycle with whatever method you’re using. So if that means that you’re not ovulating regularly and you’re not bleeding or having your menstrual cycle regularly, and this is going to make getting pregnant difficult. So if this is happening for you, I want to make sure that you hear me and that you reach out to a healthcare provider to help support you, to get answers and help you create a personalized plan to help you get the results that you need.
If you want, that could be your OB-GYN or somebody else. But the most important thing is, is that you reach out for help. If you’re not bleeding regularly, or not bleeding at all, something is wrong and we need to make changes. You need to make changes, but you need answers first. So if you’re not having a regular period or a regular cycle, then I want to encourage you to get support so that you can get pregnant faster. I want to hear from all of you, I want you to tell me how you found this video. Did you like this video? Comment below and let me know. And if you did, what was valuable? What’s the one or two pieces of information that you didn’t know before that you think is really important for you now, now that we’ve talked about it in this video? Comment below, and let me know.
If your periods are light or you’re irregular, or you’re not having a menstrual cycle at all, then let’s talk, I’m here for you. I want to support you. All you have to do is apply by using the link in the description below to apply for a discovery call to see if my team and I can help you. Did you like this video? If so, give me a thumbs up. If you know someone who is having irregular cycles or has light periods, then share this video with them. Let them know that there are things that they can do, and there is support out there for them as well. If you’re not a subscriber to my YouTube channel, then make sure you subscribe, hit that bell right there to get notified when I put out my next video for all of you. And until the next video, stay fertile.