Your menstrual cycle can be a reflection of your overall health. Regular periods indicate that your womb and hormones are healthy. There are times when your cycle can become irregular but there are some natural ways to regulate your periods and reduce the anxiety that it can create.
To understand this it’s worth addressing what “regular” actually means. It is a common misconception that a regular menstrual cycle should last 28 days. Healthy menstrual cycles can vary from 23- 35 days.
When I first came off contraceptive pill it took 6 months for my periods to return and almost a year to regulate them. They were sporadic and certainly not trackable. They were anywhere between 21 to 48 days and at one stage I think I went 60 days without a cycle with the odd week of spotting. These are classic symptoms of an irregular period. Irregular cycles are hard to predict, there may be long gaps between them or they can come too frequent, or perhaps no period at all, followed by continued bleeding or spotting between periods.
Minor changes in your cycle can be normal and usually due to common things like stress, exercise, diet or travel. It’s also worth mentioning that pregnancy may be a key factor and always worth taking a test to rule it out. The older you get and closer to menopause you become the lighter or more erratic your periods may become. However, if you aren’t reaching menopause, are certain you aren’t pregnant and have experienced irregular patterns for 3 months or more there are some things you can do to regulate your period naturally:
Here are 4 Ways to Regulate your Period Naturally
- Eat a hormone balancing diet – irregular periods may be a sign of hormonal imbalance caused by diet, stress or excessive exercise. Eating a Low GL (Glycemic Load) diet can help to balance blood sugar and regulate the hormone insulin. Choosing complex carbohydrates from vegetables and wholegrains that are high in fibre are ideal in particular broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and wholegrains such as oats and rye are beneficial.
Consuming good quality protein with every meal will also help support hormonal balance such as oily fish, eggs, legumes; beans and lentils, of which the latter are beneficial phytoestrogens that can help reduce toxic oestrogens in the body.
Increasing foods high in omega 3 particularly linseed (flaxseed) which also contain good phytoestogens can he beneficial. I like to add a tablespoon to my porridge in the morning or a shake.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important as oestrogen stores in body fat and excess can lead to further hormone imbalance. However, working with a weight loss expert may be beneficial as chronic dieting, caloric restriction or being underweight can also be a contributor to irregularities in your cycle.
2. Aim for moderate exercise – Aiming for 30-60 minute moderate exercise like cycling, jogging or weight training can be beneficial for hormonal balance. However the emphasis is on moderate as vigorous and extreme exercise can contribute to irregularities in your cycle or cause them to stop completely. In some cases the focus should be on not just the intensity of your workout but the length and quality of your recovery (see point 4).
3. Support digestive health – Your body needs to be able to eliminate used hormones through your stool. Hormones that are not eliminated can re-circulate in the body contributing to imbalances. Consuming fibrous fruits and vegetables as well as increasing water can help support healthy bowel movements and liver function. Alcohol can impact liver function and contribute to blood sugar imbalances, raising insulin and cortisol levels causing further hormone imbalance so reducing this is preferable.
4. Implement relaxation and self care techniques – Whether you are experiencing stress physically, mentally or emotionally the body reacts as if it’s being chased by a tiger. It triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol and excretes glucose for energy to either stay and fight the tiger or run away. In this instance the body shuts down the systems it doesn’t have use for. Unfortunately our reproductive system is probably one of the main system it can live without. This may explain why your period may be late when you are anxious about an interview or worried about an event.
Most of the time your cycle will return to normal after the event has passed but there are times when cortisol can stay high or low for many days, weeks or even months passed the stressful event leading to a knock on effect on the rest of our hormones that control our cycle.
Introducing some relaxation or self care time in your day can be just as beneficial as the meals you eat and the exercise you perform. As little as 10 minutes in a quiet place relaxing can be beneficial to relax the body and return balance to a hectic day. While stress impacts us all differently so too are the relaxation techniques we complete. Find something that relaxes you whether its reading, swimming, spending time with the kids, gardening or walking aim to do something each day.
After a year of changing my diet, improving my relaxation skills and toning down my excessive exercise regime my periods returned to a healthy 28 day cycle. I’m not saying it will take that long for you, we are all different but it’s worth addressing all elements mentioned above. Many people I work with find that after time relaxing, moderating their exercise and being more mindful about their diet their periods come back. It is also worth monitoring them using an app or diary to see if you can notice any patterns.
In any case if your periods have been irregular for 3 cycles or more or have stopped completely you should visit your GP to rule out any other potential underlying issues.