If you’ve got menstrual cycles that are significantly shorter than 28 days, it means two important things:
1. You’re missing out on some seriously great high-estrogen days. That’s because a short cycle means the first half of your cycle is less than 14 days since this is the part of your cycle that varies in length. The second half of your cycle (which starts after ovulation) is usually a stable 14 days.
And this is a key fact to know since your estrogen rises throughout the first half of your cycle–and as the level of this hormone climbs, it brings with it a whole host of positive effects, including boosting your mood, energy, confidence and libido and sharpening your memory, verbal abilities and sense of taste. So, the longer the first half of your cycle lasts, the more of these rising estrogen bonuses you get to enjoy.
2. You could have trouble conceiving. That’s because having a cycle significantly shorter than 28 days can mean that your hormones aren’t reaching the levels they need to in order to sustain a pregnancy.
If you’ve got short cycles, make an appointment to talk with your gynecologist about it since it could be an indicator of an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed.
Then, take a look at the ingredient labels on the beauty products you use and consider switching from shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers and other items that contain parabens–which are preservatives used to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold–to those that are paraben-free.
In a new study in the journal Reproductive Toxicology (full study), researchers who tested the urine of 178 women for exposure to four parabens (methyl parabens, ethyl paraben, propyl paraben and butyl paraben) and followed their menstrual cycles for five months discovered that women who were exposed to the most parabens were significantly more likely to have shorter-than-average cycles than those who had the least exposure.
Parabens from cosmetics enter your system by being absorbed through the skin and scalp. Which means that the women who had the highest exposure were using more beauty products that contained parabens or using them more frequently.
While the study authors aren’t sure why this link exists, they explain that parabens have a weak estrogen-like effect, so this may disrupt your body’s natural estrogen in a way that alters your menstrual cycle length.
Since this is the first study to explore this association, futher studies will be needed to confirm this link.
Till then, if you want to try ditching parabens to see if it has a positive effect on the length of your monthly cycles, you can find paraben-free shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers and other beauty products at your local health food store and drugstore, some supermarkets and on Amazon.com.
Keep in mind that paraben-free products may not last as long on your shelf, so pay attention to their use-by dates and replace them when they pass.