Coping with an abnormal menstrual cycle? Has your period completely stopped for no clear reason? This article will help you regulate your period by recovering a healthy menstrual cycle through diet and lifestyle changes, without resorting to the use of contraceptive methods that often bring complications later.

How to regulate the period without contraception

Having a normal, healthy period is incredibly important to women’s long-term health.

Some women believe that having a period is an inconvenience or a nuisance. But an irregular or absent period, or one with severe symptoms, is a sure sign that something else is wrong with the body.

That is why addressing the root cause of menstrual dysfunction is often preferable than immediately starting hormonal birth control as a quick fix.

While hormone replacement has its place in supporting women’s health, many doctors are quick to prescribe birth control for women whose menstrual cycle problems could be resolved with a change in diet and lifestyle.

In the West, between 30 and 40 percent of the reproductive female population experiences premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and between 15 and 20 percent of women have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and at least 4 percent of women have secondary amenorrhea: lack of menstruation for at least six months in a woman who was already menstruating.

These statistics would suggest that almost a third of women have some level of menstrual dysfunction.

Fortunately, hormonal disorders such as amenorrhea and polycystic ovary syndrome can not only be controlled through diet and lifestyle changes, but are even reversible in most cases.

These hormonal imbalances are almost always caused by one or more of the following:

  • Blood sugar abnormalities
  • HPA axis dysfunction (“adrenal fatigue syndrome”)
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Impaired liver function / detoxification

10 steps to regulate your period without contraception

In this article, you will learn the 10 most important diet and lifestyle factors that affect your hormonal function. Read on for the following easy-to-implement tips for making changes to move toward a healthy menstrual cycle .

1. Eat a healthy diet that controls blood sugar

As with any chronic health problem, the first step is to make sure you eat a well-balanced diet that provides you with the nutrients you need for optimal physical function. While there are dozens of theories about the “perfect” diet, there really is no “one size fits all” approach.

To improve hormonal function, your goal should be to keep your blood sugar level as stable as possible. The ideal is a “real food” diet made primarily of whole foods, with very limited (or no) amounts of highly refined grains and sugars.

Consume high-quality proteins to improve the cycle

High-quality protein should be consumed at every meal and snack, and plant foods like vegetables and fruits should make up the bulk of the diet. Healthy fats should also be eaten at every meal. A higher intake of fiber from plant foods can help with the excretion of additional hormones in the stool.

Micronutrient-rich foods like liver, eggs, fatty fish, green leafy vegetables, and whole dairy products provide vitamins and minerals that support metabolic function, liver detoxification, and ovarian health. A paleo diet may be recommended.

2. Eat enough to meet your needs

Inadequate calorie and carbohydrate intake could be the most common contributor to a dysfunctional menstrual cycle.

Calorie intake and energy balance are the most important factors affecting the development of hypothalamic amenorrhea ( 1 ). In fact, calorie intake is an even greater predictor of menstrual cycle function than a woman’s body fat percentage.

Adequate calorie intake to regulate your menstrual cycle

“Dietary restriction”, or conscious restriction of calorie intake in an effort to reach or maintain a certain body weight, is a risk factor for menstrual cycle disturbances.

While this is likely due to the unhealthy reduction in caloric intake compared to calorie burn during exercise, I wonder if the excessive dietary restriction that often comes from following an overly strict Paleo diet could contribute to hypothalamic amenorrhea. and other types of stress and related causes of menstrual dysfunction.

Use a calculator to estimate your daily caloric needs based on your current activity levels. You may be surprised to find that you are eating much less than your body needs, which could negatively affect your menstrual function.

Moderate carbohydrate intake to regulate menstruation or period

In addition to adequate calorie intake, for many women, a moderate carbohydrate intake is important for regular menstrual function . A range of 20 to 50 percent of calories from carbohydrates is ideal for improving fertility, depending on your main underlying problem.

If you have PCOS, some evidence indicates that a lower carbohydrate intake (20 to 30 percent of calories) may be beneficial. If you are a very active woman with normal insulin sensitivity, a higher carbohydrate intake of around 40 to 50 percent of calories may work better for you.

3. Maintain a healthy weight

Part of following a healthy, calorie-appropriate diet is that it will allow you to maintain a healthy body weight. Extremes of BMI, whether significantly underweight or overweight, are associated with amenorrhea and menstrual dysfunction.

BMI is a poor measure of health, as athletic women with high muscle mass will generally have a higher BMI, but in general, a good target BMI for fertility is between 18.5 and 30. Less than 18.5 is considered underweight and over 30 is considered obese ( 2 ).

If you are overweight, eating a nutrient-dense and calorically adequate diet and exercising regularly will help you shed unhealthy excess body weight that could negatively impact your hormones.

Studies consistently show a higher prevalence of PCOS in overweight and obese women, which is likely related to the insulin resistance seen in many women who are significantly overweight.

Eating a whole-food diet with limited refined carbohydrates and exercising regularly can help improve insulin sensitivity and shed excess body weight, reducing PCOS symptoms.

Being underweight can cause amenorrhea

If you are underweight, you need to work to gain weight, mainly by eating more food in general. If your BMI is below 18.5 and you are struggling with dysfunctional menstruation or amenorrhea , your goal should be to gain enough weight to return to the 19-25 BMI range.

A low body fat percentage is often correlated with amenorrhea in women; however, there is no strong evidence that identifies an “ideal” body fat percentage for fertility. Body fat percentage does not predict loss of menstrual function in women with eating disorders or in competitive athletes.

The ideal body fat percentage to regain menstrual function varies between individuals. One study found that women in treatment for anorexia nervosa regained their menstrual cycle with around 23 percent body fat ( 3 ).

Some women will lose regular menstrual function with lower body fat levels, while others will not.

Most health professionals agree that the level of “essential” body fat in women is around 12 percent, so if you are shorter than that, you absolutely must increase fat to regain normal body function.

However, a healthy body fat percentage range for women can be more than 16 to 30 percent, and percentages in their 20s and 20s are probably ideal for fertility. Like BMI, there is a wide range and individual differences will determine what is healthy for one person versus another.

4. Exercise properly

Exercise is important for fertility, and the trick is to develop an exercise program that allows enough movement, but not too much.

General exercise guidelines for women with PCOS are 30 to 60 minutes of any type of activity per day. A combination of strength training and aerobic activity works best to improve hormonal imbalances often seen in PCOS and other menstrual disorders ( 4 ).

Avoid exercise styles that make you anxious or overly emotionally stressed, which could exacerbate the physical stress of training. Don’t go to boot camp style classes where the instructor yells at you to push harder and avoids comparing yourself negatively to other women in the class. Your fitness activities should be pleasant and low-stress, and make you feel better about yourself when you leave.

And as you already know, making sure you don’t have an excessive energy deficit is critical to preventing the most common reason for amenorrhea in athletic women. However, some research suggests that there are women who develop abnormal menstrual cycles due to changes in androgen hormones (i.e., testosterone) that come from high levels of exercise, regardless of their calorie intake.

Eating a carbohydrate- and protein-rich meal or snack post-workout can help prevent testosterone spikes after hard workouts.

5. Practice stress management to regulate your period

Many women are known to have missed periods after a major stressful event. So it’s no secret that stress affects your menstrual cycle.

However, while occasional stress can disrupt a single cycle, chronic stress actually changes your hormonal profile and can have a long-term impact on menstrual function. Stress alters the ovarian cycle by activating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which affects the production of ovarian hormones such as estrogen and progesterone ( 5 ).

Many of the symptoms of “adrenal fatigue syndrome,” such as reduced sex drive, worsening PMS, and even stubborn weight gain, are often related to the impact of chronic stress and activation of the HPA axis on the hormonal balance.

Chronic stress causes menstrual abnormalities

Women under chronic stress are at increased risk of menstrual abnormalities and infertility. And your personality and your ability to resist stress can change the amount of stress that affects your menstrual cycle. So if you are someone who tends to feel crushed by stress rather than thriving on it, you may have a higher risk of menstrual dysfunction when faced with chronic stress.

If this sounds familiar, add some regular management techniques stress is a crucial part of your program to regulate the rule . Regular meditation and yoga are two of the easiest mind-body practices that can make you feel better faster.

6. Improve your digestion and elimination if you want to regulate your period

Excess hormones are eliminated through our stools, so having regular bowel movements and a healthy digestive system is crucial for good hormonal function.

Not surprisingly, there is a two-way street between hormonal balance and bowel function. Your ability to eliminate excess hormones through your stool will affect your hormonal profile, and fluctuations in hormones can also affect your bowel function.

Gut microbiome impacts hormonal balance

New research shows that the gut microbiome has a major impact on hormonal balance ( 6 ). The dysbiotic flora in your gut and / or intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”) activates your immune system, raising insulin levels and leading to high levels of androgens. This immune activation also interferes with the development of the ovarian follicle.

To rebalance your intestinal flora, increase your consumption of fermented foods, as well as vegetables of all kinds. Both starchy and non-starchy vegetables contain components that help feed beneficial gut flora, and fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha provide live gut insects that can help increase the diversity of your gut flora.

If you have “leaky gut,” following a gluten-free whole foods (Paleo) diet is the first step in repairing the damage caused by leaky gut.

If you’re struggling with major gut symptoms like constipation, bloating, loose stools, or reflux, your digestive function could be exacerbating your hormonal imbalance. Be sure to work with a professional if you need additional help normalizing your digestive system.

7. Sleep according to a schedule

Sleep disturbances are increasingly recognized as determinants of menstrual function. The underlying cause of this is disruption of circadian rhythms, which drive the cyclical nature of hormone release and are primarily disrupted by inappropriate light and dark signals.

In adolescent girls, girls with erratic sleep schedules who generally stay up late and sleep late have significantly worse PMS symptoms than girls who go to bed early ( 7 ). Women who work at night have a much higher risk of menstrual disturbances than those with normal daytime work hours.

The main hormone responsible for these circadian rhythm-related menstrual disorders is melatonin, also called “sleep hormone.”

Inappropriate light and dark exposure patterns disrupt melatonin secretion, negatively affecting the menstrual cycle.

To keep your circadian rhythms in a normal pattern, avoid bright, artificial light at night and get plenty of sun during the day. Establish a regular sleep schedule and get a good night’s sleep before midnight.

8. Supplement if necessary

There are a handful of supplements that can be helpful in balancing hormones in general, as well as improving the metabolic disturbances that occur in PCOS.

For women with amenorrhea, generally vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium, probiotics and methylated B vitamins are recommended to consume. Optimizing vitamin D status and supplementing with vitamin A if necessary can also be helpful.

A largely unknown B vitamin that has been studied for its effects on the signs and symptoms of PCOS is inositol . There are two main supplemental types of inositol: myoinositol and d-chiro-inositol.

Myoinositol improves insulin sensitivity, reduces androgens, and can even restore ovarian activity in women with PCOS. D-chiro-inositol appears to reduce androgens even better than myo-inositol.

A common herb used for hormonal imbalance, especially low progesterone, is vitex or chasteberry . There is not much research on vitex; a small study found that 10 out of 15 women with amenorrhea regained their periods after taking chasteberry for six months. Talk to your doctor about adding vitex as an additional supplement that stimulates hormones.

9. Avoid environmental toxins

Our modern environment is full of chemical toxins, in our food, in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, and in the cosmetics and hygiene products we put on our bodies.

Many of these chemicals have the ability to affect our hormones and are called endocrine disruptors. These endocrine disruptors are known to have significant effects on your risk of not only polycystic ovary syndrome and menstrual dysfunction , but also thyroid disorders, obesity, and cancer ( 8 ).

Chemicals called xenoestrogens are found everywhere; like BPA in our food, phthalates in our body care products, and atrazine in our garden. While we can’t completely avoid these hormone-damaging toxins, we can significantly reduce our exposure to them.

10. Use acupuncture

While the evidence for the effects of acupuncture on menstrual function is mixed, there is some support for the use of acupuncture to improve menstrual function and reduce PMS symptoms ( 9 ). One study found acupuncture to be as effective as NSAID therapy for dysmenorrhea, a cycle of severe PMS symptoms, especially cramps.

If you’ve already made the changes mentioned above, you may want to try adding regular acupuncture for an extra dose of hormone balancing treatment.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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