It’s bad enough dealing with the cramps and general annoyances that accompany your period each month, without adding the uncertainty of an irregular cycle to it. Unfortunately, many women live with unpredictable periods that are either not regular or don’t follow the typical cycle length of 28 days (or the average range of 24 to 35 days). If this sounds familiar, and you are looking for ways to make your cycle more regular, natural and alternative remedies could help.
What Counts As Irregular?
Any deviation from the typical or average pattern of a menstrual cycle as described earlier is seen as an irregular period. It could be that you have a shorter or much longer cycle; fewer days of bleeding; or bleeding that’s very heavy or very light. You might even have a period one month and miss one the next.1
Lose Some Weight
Excessive weight gain can make a woman’s cycle irregular. Even if you do not have a diagnosed condition like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which may be linked to being overweight, those extra pounds could cost you heavily when it comes to your period.2 Lose the extra weight through a combination of diet and exercise, and consciously work to improve your fitness – you should see a change in the regularity of your period as well.
Cut Down Intensive Exercise (If You’re Doing Too Much!)
On the other end of the spectrum, as far as causes for irregular periods go, is a habit that is seemingly healthy but can backfire. If you are a fitness buff and constantly push your body to the limit, your endurance training could be causing your periods to go haywire. For instance, some researchers found that 45 percent of all women track athletes or cross country runners they studied, who clocked over 80 miles a week, had irregular periods.3 The solution, in this case, is actually quite simple. Just cut back on the intensity and quantum of exercise you put in and see if it helps your cycle. If it does, you may need to be content with a slightly toned down version of your usual regimen, and your reproductive system will thank you for it.
Restore Normal Function With Acupuncture
Alternative therapy like acupuncture can be useful in helping make your periods more regular. The therapy can help in better regulation and management of your periods, with the added bonus of having a positive effect on your mood as well. Acupuncture works by stimulating blood flow to the affected region, helping normalize your hormone levels, and stimulating organs to ensure normal functioning of your reproductive system.4 One study noted that when women with PCOS were given acupuncture therapy for about 2 or 3 months, 38 percent of them had regular ovulation. A caveat, though: the researchers found that it may not be as effective if obesity and high insulin or testosterone levels accompany the irregular periods.5
Do Some Yoga
One of the causes of irregular periods is excessive stress.6 One study found that practicing yoga can make a significant difference. The researchers tracked women undergoing yoga therapy for 6 months and found that their symptoms of depression and anxiety were alleviated by yoga. Overall health and well-being also improved.7 If other relaxation techniques like meditation work for you, go ahead and do those.
Yoga can also help with associated problems women might face, like painful periods or cramps, while improving their hormonal profile. In one study, women practiced yoga for 35 to 40 minutes at a time, 5 days a week for a 6-month period. At the end of the study, levels of follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, prolactin, and thyroid-stimulating hormone were all down, leading researchers to conclude that those with irregular menstrual cycles could benefit from doing yoga.8
Treat Your Thyroid
Sometimes, an overactive thyroid results in a condition called hyperthyroidism, which can cause irregular, light, or missed periods.9 Changes to your diet – like cutting out consumption of any possible allergens, including common ones like gluten, soy, and dairy, and avoiding preservative or chemical additive-laden processed foods – is a good idea.
Eating plenty of sea vegetables (nori, spirulina, kelp etc.) and fresh vegetables and other foods rich in iron and vitamin B (like greens and whole grains) can help improve symptoms. Stick to lean meat and antioxidant-rich foods like berries, green leafy vegetables, and other fresh produce.
An extract of green tea taken daily (dosage of between 250 and 500 mg as prescribed) and 300–500 mg of lemon balm steeped in a cup of boiling water and taken thrice a day can help an overactive thyroid. As thyroid function normalizes, your period should fall back into a more regular pattern as well.10
Try Ayurvedic Remedies
Ayurvedic and herbal remedies like the bark of Saraca indica or the Ashoka tree found in India can help regulate the menstrual cycle. These ancient remedies often also have allied benefits like helping treat uterine disorders or easing menstrual pain in the abdomen.11 If a delayed or painful period is a common complaint with you, you could also try taking Symplocos racemosa or lodhra.12
|↑1||Irregular periods. NHS.|
|↑2||Irregular Periods-Causes, NHS.|
|↑3||Greenberg, Jerrold S., George B. Dintiman, and Barbee Myers Oakes. Physical fitness and wellness: Changing the way you look, feel, and perform. Human Kinetics, 2004.|
|↑4||Badawy, Ahmed, and Abubaker Elnashar. “Treatment options for polycystic ovary syndrome.” Int J Womens Health 3, no. 1 (2011): 25-35.|
|↑5||STENER‐VICTORIN, E. L. I. S. A. B. E. T., URBAN WALDENSTRÖM, Ulrika Tägnfors, Thomas Lundeberg, Göran Lindstedt, and Per Olof Janson. “Effects of electro‐acupuncture on anovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.” Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica 79, no. 3 (2000): 180-188.|
|↑6||Irregular Periods-Causes, NHS.|
|↑7||Rani, Khushbu, S. C. Tiwari, Uma Singh, G. G. Agrawal, Archana Ghildiyal, and Neena Srivastava. “Impact of Yoga Nidra on psychological general wellbeing in patients with menstrual irregularities: A randomized controlled trial.” International journal of yoga 4, no. 1 (2011): 20.|
|↑8||Rani, Monika, Uma Singh, Girdhar Gopal Agrawal, Shankar Madhav Natu, Sarswati Kala, Archana Ghildiyal, and Neena Srivastava. “Impact of Yoga Nidra on menstrual abnormalities in females of reproductive age.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 19, no. 12 (2013): 925-929.|
|↑9||Hyperthyroidism, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑10||Hyperthyroidism, University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑11||Mishra, Adithya, Anil Kumar, Neelam Rajbhar, and Ashok Kumar. “Phytochemical and pharmacological importance of Saraca indica.” Int. J. Pharm. Chem. Sci 2, no. 2 (2013): 1009-1013.|
|↑12||Jadhav, Atul N., and K. K. Bhutani. “Ayurveda and gynecological disorders.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 97, no. 1 (2005): 151-159.|