Periods are a strange phenomenon. You may hate it when they come and panic when they don’t. However, regular periods are a hallmark of reproductive health. Let us understand what is the cause behind irregular periods and how to get regular periods naturally.
- What is an Irregular Period?
- What Are the Causes of Irregular Periods?
- Can PCOS be the Reason Behind Irregular Periods?
- How to Regularise Your Periods in PCOS by Natural Means?
- Are There Any Home Remedies to Get Periods Regularly?
- Don’t Have Time To Read?
What is an Irregular Period?
In women, menstrual bleeding occurs every 28 days on average and will last for 4 to 7 days. The normal menstrual cycle can range from 21 to 35 days. However, if the gap between your periods keeps changing and is often longer or shorter than usual, your period is termed “irregular”.
If your menstrual cycle is greater than 35 days or you get only between 4 to 9 menstrual cycles in a year, this condition is called oligomenorrhoea.
What Are the Causes of Irregular Periods?
There are many factors that can cause irregular periods. Changes in your body's hormone levels, especially the hormones estrogen and progesterone, can disrupt the regular pattern of your menstrual cycle.
Here are a few reasons for irregular periods in women of reproductive age:
Pregnancy is one of the most common reasons why a woman may miss her period. Once a woman is pregnant, ovulation stops and there is no shedding of the menstrual lining, thus no menstrual bleeding.
Many women who are breastfeeding have irregular periods because prolactin, the hormone that produces breast milk, also stops ovulation and thus your period.
3. Premature Menopause
Premature menopause, also known as premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), is a condition where normal ovarian function is lost in women under the age of 40, which results in menopause-like symptoms, such as stopping of periods.
4. Thyroid Disorder
Your thyroid gland plays a major role in controlling your metabolism and reproductive health. The hormones produced by the thyroid gland interact indirectly with sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that attaches to reproductive hormones so they can move throughout the body.
Thus, if your thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism), it can affect your hormones and cause irregular periods.
Chronic stress can cause fluctuations in your hormonal levels. When under stress, your body makes a hormone called cortisol. Depending on the stress levels and how much cortisol your body produces, the hormonal balance in your body can get disrupted and lead to delayed, light periods, or no period at all.
Stress can also lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices such as inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, and poor dietary choices, leading to sudden weight gain or weight loss. All of this can disrupt your hormonal balance and lead to irregular periods.
Excess body weight can lead to the production of high levels of estrogen, which can affect the regularity of your menstrual cycle. This may not only cause irregular periods but can also completely stop your periods.
7. Too Much Exercise
Excessive exercise can cause irregular periods. When your body burns more calories through exercise than you consume, it results in the shortage of energy required to produce an adequate amount of reproductive hormones to cause ovulation and thus your periods.
8. Nutritional Deficiency
Your body needs sufficient nutrients to function normally. Studies suggest that nutrient deficiency such as that of vitamin D may cause irregular periods. Iron deficiency can cause anaemia, which can also result in irregular periods.
9. Low Body Weight
If you lose too much weight through exercise or not eating enough, it may cause a drop in your estrogen levels, which can prevent ovulation, resulting in irregular periods.
10. Uncontrolled Diabetes
Poorly managed diabetes can result in higher than normal blood sugar levels, which can disrupt your hormonal balance. Diabetes and high blood sugar levels can increase the risk of stopped ovulation and irregular periods due to an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone levels.
Increase in progesterone levels during the second half of the menstrual cycle can also lead to increased insulin resistance.
11. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is considered one of the major causes of irregular periods. Read more about it in the next section.
Can PCOS be the Reason Behind Irregular Periods?
If you have irregular periods, you should consult a doctor at the earliest so that they can diagnose the reason behind your menstrual irregularities.
Yes, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can be the reason behind irregular periods. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance common among women of reproductive age. In individuals with PCOS, the ovaries produce more than the normal amount of male hormones called androgens (specifically testosterone), which are naturally produced in females, although in a smaller amount.
The hormonal imbalance can cause problems with ovulation, which causes irregular menstrual cycles and other PCOS symptoms.
How to Regularise Your Periods in PCOS by Natural Means?
If your periods are irregular due to PCOS, the management of PCOS with medications and/or lifestyle changes should help with getting the periods back on track. Speak to a doctor about what are the best management options in your case.
If you are curious about regularising your periods through natural ways, here are a few basic irregular period solutions to follow.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you have PCOS and are overweight, it is important to lose weight in PCOS as obesity can worsen insulin resistance and irregular periods in PCOS.
It is important to maintain a healthy body mass index to reduce insulin resistance, normalise your hormonal levels, and regularise your menstrual cycles. It is important to remember that extreme weight loss or being underweight can also cause irregular periods.
2. Adopt a Balanced Diet
Diet plays a crucial role in managing the symptoms of PCOS such as irregular periods, weight gain, etc. If you have PCOS and have developed insulin resistance, a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugary foods can make insulin resistance worse and weight loss more difficult to manage.
Insulin resistance and high insulin levels can continue to promote excess androgen production and may worsen the symptoms of PCOS including irregular menstruation.
Having a balanced diet that contains a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates, a good amount of healthy fats, and high levels of fibre and protein can help maintain stable blood glucose levels, control insulin resistance, and help with weight loss. Thus, a balanced diet can help you regularise your menstrual cycles in PCOS.
3. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise can help manage your weight and improve the insulin sensitivity of the cells in your body. Increased utilisation of glucose during exercise improves the insulin sensitivity of the cells and decreases blood glucose levels. Exercise can also help with lowering cholesterol levels and ensure that you get good quality sleep.
All of these factors can contribute to better management of PCOS and regularisation of menstrual cycles. Regular exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, is recommended.
4. Try Yoga for a Healthy Life
Practising yoga is a boon for the body and mind and has multiple health benefits for women with PCOS. Yoga relieves stress and helps to balance the hormones in your body. It helps by reducing insulin resistance and regulating the menstrual cycle.
Practising yoga 30 to 45 minutes a day, 5 times per week, may help maintain a healthy weight, balance hormones, and regulate your menstrual cycle in PCOS.
5. Manage Stress
Experts opine that high levels of stress may lead to irregular periods. Stress can increase levels of the cortisol hormone in the body, which can worsen insulin resistance and lead to excess androgen production, causing PCOS symptoms such as irregular periods.
Hence, finding activities that you enjoy, such as meditation, gardening, walking etc. and getting quality sleep is important to reduce stress. This, in turn, may regulate your menstrual cycle.
Are There Any Home Remedies to Get Periods Regularly?
If you are experiencing irregular periods, treatment after prompt diagnosis should be a priority. With irregular periods, home remedies should not be your first line of treatment. Do not treat yourself without consulting a doctor first and understanding the root cause behind the irregularities in your menstrual cycle.
There are a few natural remedies for period irregularity that may be helpful to you. However, there is not enough evidence about the efficacy of these remedies.
- Studies suggest that low levels of Vitamin D can cause irregular periods. Getting sufficient sunlight and including foods and supplements that contain Vitamin D in your routine may help normalise your menstrual cycle.
- Cinnamon may also help regulate your menstrual cycle. It mimics the action of insulin and reduces blood sugar levels, and is thus believed to lower the androgen levels in your body and help manage PCOS. This may help regularise your periods.
- Some research also indicates that drinking 15 ml of apple cider vinegar every day may help restore regular menstruation in women who have PCOS. However, more research is needed to validate this claim.
- Another popular home remedy for regulating periods is pineapple. Studies state that an enzyme called bromelain, found in pineapple, may have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, and could contribute to its effect on periods. However, there is not enough evidence to support this claim.
If you have irregular periods due to PCOS, maintaining a healthy weight, adopting a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and taking steps to manage stress through activities such as yoga can help regularise your periods.