Accounting for length-bias and selection effects in estimating the distribution of menstrual cycle length

Kirsten J. Lum, Rajeshwari Sundaram, Thomas A. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Prospective pregnancy studies are a valuable source of longitudinal data on menstrual cycle length. However, care is needed when making inferences of such renewal processes. For example, accounting for the sampling plan is necessary for unbiased estimation of the menstrual cycle length distribution for the study population. If couples can enroll when they learn of the study as opposed to waiting for the start of a new menstrual cycle, then due to length-bias, the enrollment cycle will be stochastically larger than the general run of cycles, a typical property of prevalent cohort studies. Furthermore, the probability of enrollment can depend on the length of time since a woman's last menstrual period (a backward recurrence time), resulting in selection effects. We focus on accounting for length-bias and selection effects in the likelihood for enrollment menstrual cycle length, using a recursive two-stage approach wherein we first estimate the probability of enrollment as a function of the backward recurrence time and then use it in a likelihood with sampling weights that account for length-bias and selection effects. To broaden the applicability of our methods, we augment our model to incorporate a couple-specific random effect and time-independent covariate. A simulation study quantifies performance for two scenarios of enrollment probability when proper account is taken of sampling plan features. In addition, we estimate the probability of enrollment and the distribution of menstrual cycle length for the study population of the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment Study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-128
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Backward recurrence time
  • Length-bias
  • Menstrual cycle length
  • Renewal process
  • Selection effects
  • Survival analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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