Most women are unaware that ovulating late (day 20 or so) - and having overly long menstrual cycles - can put them at significantly greater risk of having a baby with birth defects. Irregular menstrual cycles and late ovulations are not unusual but are seldom considered dangerous, however a number of studies (1,2) have shown that conceiving on a late ovulation definitely ups the risk of congenital malformations.
Taking steps to pull ovulation to an earlier point in your menstrual cycle may significantly reduce your risks of birth defects by creating a healthier more robust follicle with better hormone levels. Stimulating ovulation to occur at the right time should be a primary focus to create a healthy baby.
When ovulation is late, the menstrual cycle can often be balanced with electro-acupuncture and natural remedies, alternatively medications such as clomid, femara or gonadotropins can be used to time ovulation at a healthy place in your cycle. Acupuncture and natural remedies can of course be combined with ART when necessary.
One study (1) on the connection between birth defects and the timing of ovulation discovered that mothers of malformed infants tended to have a follicular phase measuring approximately 20.6 days compared to the average 16.9 days for mothers with normally formed children.
The whole menstrual cycle tended to be longer in women who gave birth to children with birth defects. Concurrently it took longer (over 3 days) for the basal temperature to rise after ovulation in 45% mothers of malformed infants compared to a slow rise in only 28% of the mothers of children without birth defects. The study authors concluded that:
"The risk for congenital malformations is thus closely related to the length of the hypothermic phase (follicular phase) and to a slow temperature rise in the conceptional cycle."
"Therefore we suggest that the preovulatory oocyte overripeness is one of the mechanisms of congenital malformation."
A separate study (2) showed that mothers of infants with birth defects were more likely to have: a later onset of menses, irregular menstrual cycles (77% versus 40%) and longer menstrual cycles (32.9 versus 30.1 days). Women with children with birth defects were especially likely to have an unusually long follicular phase (21.7 versus 17.6 days) in the cycles prior to conceiving. In the cycle when women conceived children with birth defects, the follicular phase was apt to be even longer, (24.0 vs 18.1 days) and the temperature rise slower. The researchers concluded that:
"...we have been able to show that increased risk of malformation is associated with increase in the length of the follicular phase and the temperature rise of the conception cycle."
If you have late ovulations, consider taking steps to restore a more healthy menstrual cycle before conceiving to minimize your risks. Acupuncture and Chines Medicine can often help.
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1. Relationship between the characteristics of the menstrual cycle and congenital malformations in the human Mayra Troya1, Ondine Bomsel-Helmreich1, Philippe Bertrand2, Emile Papiernik1, Alfred Spira2 Available online 31 March 2004.
Early Human Development
Volume 11, Issues 3-4, September 1985, Pages 307-315
Pattern of menstrual cycles and incidence of congenital malformations, Alfred Spira , Nadine Spira, Emile Papiernik-Berkauer, Daniel Schwartz. Early Human Development. Volume 11, Issues 3-4, September 1985, Pages 317-324