A women’s cycle’s can range from 25-35 days long and just because your period isn’t every 28 days on the dot does not mean something is wrong. There is no such thing as a perfect menstrual cycle. There are two situations that can be cause for concern. If you are experiencing either of these than it may be time for you to dig a little deeper.
On a side note if you are on birth control pills or any other form of synthetic hormonal regulating medication (patch, pills, shots,etc) than your situation may be even more delicate. The side effects associated with taking birth control pills not only include nausea, cramping, irregular bleeding or spotting between periods but also weight gain, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of breast cancer. If you are taking medication to control your cycle I strongly urge you to try natural birth control alternatives instead. The long-term risks of this medication in particular should be cause for concern.
Now lets dig a little deeper into two situations that may be a sign of hormonal imbalance and how to fix them.
You Don’t Get a Period at all or You Are Very Irregular
If you don’t get a period at all or your cycle is so irregular (going 2-3 months without a period) this is NOT normal! When you ‘lose your period’, this is called: amenorrhea (lack of period). It can be caused by a few different reasons but mostly involving your HORMONES. In particular FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (leutinizing hormone) poor Estrogen and Progesterone regulation/production. Keeping these in balance is crucial to the menstrual process. If these are out of whack in any way irregularities can come.
How can I get my cycles back on track?
- EAT more HEALTHY FATS. If you are having irregular periods or no period you are most likely NOT eating enough healthy fats. Hormones are composed of fatty membranes and therefore THRIVE UPON fats. You need fats because they regulate the production of hormones. Be sure you are eating the right kinds of healthy fats like those listed here. Avoid fats such as vegetable oil, peanut oil, canola oil, soybean oil, margarine, shortening, often found in packaged, processed foods (breads, bars, cookies, chips, crackers, dressings, cereals, etc.), as well as many restaurants and fast-food cooking. Unhealthy fats in your diet can lead to hormone problems as well.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Not enough calorie consumption and too low body fat will put your body into survival mode and therefore shut down your period all-together. Without enough body fat a women can’t menstruate. On the opposite end too much body fat and being overweight can also cause major hormonal imbalances especially reproductive hormones. Additionally just eating a poor quality diet in general day to day (fast food, packaged food, excess sugar, unhealthy fats, soda, etc etc) will have a negative impact on your hormones, menstrual cycles, and mood. This can throw your reproductive cycle off by not having the necessary nutrients needed for optimal metabolic function and hormone balance. Cleaning up your diet can improve menstrual health tremendously.
- Choose Organic pastured (raw if possible) dairy products. Conventional dairy is FULL of hormones! At this point we can’t even get the truth about what is being pumped into these animals. Excess hormones from conventional dairy and conventional meat can impact a women’s delicate hormonal balance. It is critical to choose pastured, organic, dairy and minimize dairy consumption if you are already having irregular cycles.
- Exercise with caution! If you are overtraining on a weekly basis with strenuous daily workouts this can throw off your hormones. Overtraining can result in low estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone level and eventually NO PERIOD!
- De-stress and get more sleep! Going to bed and waking up at a set time helps.
2. Your Period is Painful,Heavy and your PMS is Something You Dread Every Month.
PMS is normal and related to fluctuating hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone, that occur in preparation for menstruation. Common PMS symptoms can include cramps, headache, tender breasts, water retention, and moodiness. If you are debilitated, can not leave your bed, sad, depressed, or in significant pain every month this would be cause for concern. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are suffering from severe PMS symptoms.
Severe PMS can be cause by some underlying issues
- Hormonal changes and imbalances
- Chemical changes in the brain
- Poor diet and over consumption of processed food
- Low vitamin and mineral levels
- Depression or anxiety
- Thyroid problems
- Environmental toxins
- Consuming excess alcohol and caffeine which may alter mood and energy level
- Lack of exercise
The solution to an easier monthly cycle may be simply making the necessary lifestyle changes needed to relieve your PMS symptoms.
Lastly, I do want to mention if you have addressed the above and still have any cause for concern talk to your doctor. There are other underlying conditions such as Endometriosis, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea that can contribute to irregular or painful cycles.
BOTTOM LINE: Having a regular, moderately pain-free period each month is a good indication that hormones are in balance and the reproductive system is working properly.
Be Well! 🙂
p.s. If you are feeling the need to make some lifestyle changes my 14 day REAL Food REAL Fitness Reset program is a great start!
Also try essential oils such as lavender or peppermint to help relieve common PMS symptoms!