Long menstrual cycle: why does it last longer?
The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days for menstruating women. However, its length can vary from one woman to another, and even according to the different phases of a person's life. The average of 28 days for a menstrual cycle is, as said, only an average, some women have a much longer cycle.
What is a menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle is made up of four phases. The first is the period, also called menstruation. This is the first part of the female cycle. It is during this period, which lasts an average of 4 to 7 days depending on the woman, that the uterine lining (the endometrium) disintegrates. It is evacuated in the form of bleeding, through the vagina if no fertilization has taken place.
After menstruation, comes the follicular phase. It is during this time that the body prepares for a possible pregnancy. Under the action of estrogen, the endometrium gradually fills with blood, swells and is ready for implantation.
Then the hormone LH comes into play and causes ovulation, which is the third phase of the menstrual cycle. This hormone will create the opening of the ovarian follicle which will release the ovum. The egg then descends through the fallopian tube to nestle in the uterus. Its journey usually takes 3 to 4 days, and it remains in the uterus for 1 day before starting to disintegrate. During these 5 days or so, the egg can be fertilized by a spermatozoon. This is called the window of fertility. We tend to say that ovulation takes place on the 14th day of the cycle, but this time varies from woman to woman. Also, some women will ovulate later.
Then, after ovulation comes the period of the luteal phase. It is during this period that the ovarian follicle transforms into a "corpus luteum". This corpus luteum will release estrogen and progesterone into the bloodstream. This prepares the endometrium for a fertilized egg andsupports the development of nidation at the birth of the baby. If there is no fertilization, on the other hand, the egg breaks down and is evacuated. The luteal phase always lasts 14 days, unlike the follicular phase which can vary in length.
Why is it called a long menstrual cycle?
A menstrual cycle is considered long when it lasts more than 35 days. If your cycle lasts 40, 45 or more days, then it is considered a long menstrual cycle.
In reality, it is only the follicular phase, the period before ovulation, that is longer than average. If you have a long menstrual cycle, it means that your body takes longer to make an egg and that your ovulation will not actually occur untilafter the average14 days .
No matter how long your cycle is, the luteal phase always lasts 14 days.
How long is a typical menstrual cycle?
The length of a menstrual cycle is calculated from the first day of menstruation to the day before the next first day of menstruation. Some women also have irregular cycles, which means that the length will vary from one cycle to another.
A long cycle lasts more than 35 days, while a cycle is considered short when it lasts less than 21 days. You can use a period application to calculate the length of your cycle, and thus determine your menstrual calendar ! This will help you avoid unexpected bleeding!
What are the causes of a long menstrual cycle?
Several causes can be at the origin of long menstrual cycles:
Hormonal changes, such as those that can occur when taking or stopping hormonal contraceptives such as the birth control pill or the IUD. When you stop taking these types of contraceptives, it may take several months for your cycle to regulate and return to normal.
Age and the onset of menopause with all the hormonal disturbances can also be the cause of longer or irregular cycles.
Environmental and lifestyle factors
Your environment and lifestyle also play a considerable role in the length of your cycles. A stressful times or chronic stress during your periodAnxiety, depression, a major change or psychological problems can lead to menstrual problems of varying degrees. It is therefore possible to see the length of your cycle lengthen when you are subject to these types of factors.
Lifestyle also plays a role in cycle length. For example, excessive or intense sports will reduce the level of estrogen. The production of this sex hormone is directly related to body fat, so if you lose weight (body fat), estrogen production can tend to decrease and lead to longer, more irregular cycles and sometimes even a absence of menstruation (also called secondary amenorrhea).
Of course, this does not mean that you should stop playing sports!
Finally, some diseases or disorders can cause longer cycles. This is the case with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): this hormonal disorder is very common, affecting about 10% of women, or one in 10 women of childbearing age. It is the first cause of female infertility. It is characterized by a very high level of testosterone hormones. Symptoms include acne, weight gain, hirsutism (abnormally high hair growth) and irregular cycles (which are often abnormally long).
Thyroid dysfunction can also cause irregular and/or abnormally long cycles. Indeed, if the thyroid is dysfunctional, the production of sex hormones can also be affected and delay ovulation.
What are the effects of a long menstrual cycle on the body?
A long menstrual cycle can have different impacts on your body.
It is possible for a cycle to last a long time without being irregular. Sometimes your cycles can be long, sometimes shorter. Irregular cycles are cycles that vary in length from month to month. When you have irregular cycles, it is more difficult to know when you are ovulating, and therefore to have irregular periods.
Impact on fertility
Having long cycles does indeed have an impact on fertility. When you have long cycles, you ovulate less often. So, it can be statistically more difficult for some women to conceive a child. But some studies show that women with long cycles ovulate less often, but have better quality eggs. The fertility rate is therefore not lower in women with a longer menstrual cycle.
How can a long menstrual cycle be treated?
If you have a long menstrual cycle or a sudden change in your menstrual cycle and its length, you can consult a health professional (doctor, midwife or gynecologist). He or she will be able to help you find the cause of this ovulation disorder or delay by performing several tests (ultrasound, hormonal assessment, etc.).
Sometimes, long cycles are also naturally like this: it is by carrying out various examinations that your health professional will be able to know if your cycle problems come from a pathological or natural cause.
Long menstrual cycle FAQ
Is it possible to have a 45-day menstrual cycle?
Some women can have a 45-day cycle. The follicular phase will then be longer than average.
Is it possible to have a long menstrual cycle of 60 days?
It is possible for some women to have a 60-day menstrual cycle. The luteal phase is always 14 days long, only ovulation is delayed in this case.
Is it serious to have a long menstrual cycle?
Only examinations with health professionals can determine the cause of a long menstrual cycle: the causes can be pathological such as hormonal disorders, PCOS, or psychological causes. But a cycle can also be naturally, without there being pathological causes.
You will also like:
- Follicular phase: everything you need to know about this period of the menstrual cycle
- Luteal phase: everything you need to know about this period of the menstrual cycle