Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between menstrual cycle characteristics in early life and adulthood and fecundability.
Methods: Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO) is an Internet-based preconception cohort study of pregnancy planners from the United States and Canada. During the preconception period, we enrolled 2189 female pregnancy planners aged 21-45 years who had been attempting conception for ≤6 cycles. Women self-reported menstrual cycle characteristics via an online baseline questionnaire, and pregnancy status was ascertained through bimonthly follow-up questionnaires. Proportional probabilities models were used to estimate fecundability ratios (FRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), adjusting for potential confounders.
Results: Compared with usual menstrual cycle lengths of 27-29 days, cycle lengths of <25 (FR = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.54-1.22) and 25-26 days (FR = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.75-1.14) were associated with reduced fecundability. Compared with women who reached menarche at the age of 12-13 years, those who reached menarche at <12 years had reduced fecundability (FR = 0.87, 95% CI: 0.76-0.99). Women whose cycles never regularized after menarche (FR = 0.93, 95% CI: 0.81-1.06) had slightly reduced fecundability compared with women whose cycles regularized within 2 years of menarche. Bleed length and heaviness of bleeding were not appreciably associated with fecundability.
Conclusions: Menstrual cycle characteristics, specifically cycle length and age at menarche, may act as markers of fertility potential among pregnancy planners.
Keywords: Fecundability; Menstrual cycle; Preconception cohort; Time-to-pregnancy.
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