Are Irregular Periods Bothering You?
Every woman has a cycle that is unique to her. Although a normal menstrual cycle could be as short as 22 days, others can be as long as 36 days, and hardly anyone has a cycle that lasts exactly 28 days. What’s important is that your normal shifts don’t become abnormal. For some women, that’s skipping an entire month or more without being pregnant. There are a couple of reasons your cycle may be irregular such as stress, dietary deficiencies, low body weight, getting off of birth control pills, hormonal imbalance, perimenopause or other underlying issues.Restoring your menstrual cycle can be done naturally and effectively with herbs, nutrition and exercise.
If your period suddenly starts coming more frequently for a few cycles in a row, or lasting longer, or brings abnormally heavy bleeding that prevents you from doing your usual activities, it’s often a sign that your body is not producing enough progesterone to balance estrogen. So the lining of the uterus keeps thickening until it breaks off and repeatedly sheds in fragmented pieces.
Hormonal shifts that produce significant and frequent cycle disruption are signals to pay closer attention. Healthy menstruation is an indication of a healthy state of mind and body and is step one for boosting your fertility naturally.
Structural problems, such as endometriosis, uterine polyps, and fibroids; low thyroid function; prolonged antibiotic use; and even infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to irregular or even heavier periods.
Secondary amenorrhea is defined as the absence of menstruation for the total of at least 3 previous menstrual cycle lengths, or at least 6 months in a woman who previously had a menstrual cycle and is still in her reproductive years. Reproductive years are defined as menarche when a woman begins her menstrual cycle in puberty until menopause around the ages of 40-55.
Now the question is how to get regular periods and avoid all of the above. Regulating your periods is crucial to prevent deleterious effects to skeletal and reproductive health.
Causes Of Irregular Periods
Here are the causes of irregular periods.
A menstrual cycle that has stopped is not a disease, it may be a sign that there is an underlying imbalance in the body. A regular menstrual cycle is regulated by a complex system of messages and actions orchestrated by the endocrine system. The endocrine glands work together to send messages via hormones. This is called the feedback loop.
A healthy cycle is dependent on each part of the feedback loop functioning properly. Think of it as an orchestra, if just one part of the cycle is off, it will throw the entire cycle off, causing imbalances that can affect regular menstrual cycles.
Sometimes the body is not getting enough nutrition daily to be able to sustain normal functions, including the menstrual cycle. There are many very important nutrients the body requires to maintain a healthy menstrual cycle. Nutritional deficiencies can actually cause menstrual cycle irregularities and eventually may cause the entire cycle to stop.
Being Overweight or Underweight
There is a direct link between anovulation and obesity and those women who are. Body fat cells, called adipocytes produce estrogen. Obese women may have too much estrogen due to too much body fat. Women who are underweight may also have anovulation due to lack of body fat. There may not be enough estrogen or adequate cholesterol levels being maintained to support the menstrual cycle. Studies have shown that women with extreme exercise habits have significantly lower levels of estradiol due to low levels of body fat in key areas of the body, leading to anovulation.
Too Much, Too Little Estrogen
Estrogen is essential for the healthy bone formation, healthy gene expression, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and is vital for a healthy menstrual cycle. Too much estrogen or too little in the body may cause the feedback loop to not function properly and the menstrual cycle may cease. Now you can see why it is so important to have adequate amounts of body fat; not too much and not too little!
Stress may cause the body to stop the menstrual cycle. Stress causes the body to release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin that prevent our fertility hormones from being released at the correct times in the menstrual cycle. This can cause a disruption in the menstrual cycle by affecting how the adrenal glands function. Reducing stress and supporting adrenal health is essential to a healthy menstrual cycle and is a relatively easy fix for healthy fertility. The adrenal glands also directly impact thyroid health.
Poor thyroid function may cause the menstrual cycle to stop. An overactive thyroid that produces too many thyroid hormones is called Hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is underactive and does not produce enough thyroid hormones. An absent menstrual cycle is a sign of hyperthyroidism, where irregular or heavy cycles may be a sign of hypothyroidism.
Premature Ovarian Failure
POF, also known as Ovarian Hypofunction, is defined as a loss of normal ovarian function before the age of 40. The menstrual cycle may cease before the age of 40, or become sporadic.
Perimenopause and Menopause
Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause. As perimenopause progresses toward menopause, it is normal for menstrual cycles to become irregular and for hormone levels to fluctuate. The menstrual cycle may become absent for many cycles and then suddenly come back for a couple cycles, and then come back again, becoming sporadic for some years. As ovarian reserve diminishes and egg health declines, FSH levels rise, the menstrual cycle will become more and more irregular, until eventually, it stops. Menopause is defined as absent menstruation for a year or longer, however, natural therapies cannot bring back the menstrual cycles in a woman who has already gone through, or is going through menopause.
How To Get Regular Periods?
One of the most common ways to treat irregular periods is with the aid of hormonal birth control. The problem with birth control is that it often addresses the symptoms without treating the underlying causes of menstrual irregularities. Most birth control pills are a combination of the derivatives of the hormones estrogen and progestin. They work by mimicking the hormones in your body, essentially fooling your intricate hormonal reproductive system into producing the following effects:
- Preventing your ovaries from releasing eggs
- Thickening your cervical mucus to help block sperm from fertilizing an egg
- Thinning the lining of your uterus, which would make it difficult for an egg to implant, should it become fertilized
All of the above interrupt the natural functioning of a woman’s fertile cycle by suppressing it. Progesterone is a very important hormone in a woman’s body. It plays a major role in maintaining the normal functioning of the menstrual cycle. The Pill leads to progesterone deficiency, which can also be partially diagnosed through a hormone deficiency test questionnaire.
Overall, the risks of birth control outweigh the benefits in restoring balance for irregular menstrual cycles. Natural therapies are not only effective in the long-term but there are no side effects. Employing natural remedies and examining their efficacy can help you identify what’s causing your irregular periods so you can heal the problem and not just treat the symptoms.
1. Healthy Weight
Get to a healthy weight for your age and height. Body fat plays a role in how your hormonal processes work. If you’re overweight or underweight, you can experience hormonal irregularities that cause menstrual irregularities.
2. Manage Stress
Practice stress reduction techniques, such as yoga, meditation, exercise or journaling. Try meditation and practicing gratitude. You can’t feel gratitude and stress at the same time, Excess stress affects your body’s hormonal systems and can contribute to irregular periods.
Rethink your exercise routine. If you exercise too much, you’ll delay or stop your menstrual periods. This type of menstrual irregularity occurs regularly in athletes. If you don’t exercise regularly, add 30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activity, such as swimming, walking, jogging or dancing, to your daily routine. Try yoga. Do supported versions of standing poses like triangle and half-moon to create space and ease in the pelvic region. During your period, restorative yoga postures such as reclining bound-ankle pose can restore energy and relax abdominal organs. The rest of the month, practice seated postures, such as seated wide- angle pose, to tone reproductive organs and relieve abdominal tension; and inversions, such as standing forward bends and supported head or shoulder stand, to stabilize hormonal output and regulate flow.
4. Apply Warm Castor Oil
To stabilize flow, moisten a flannel pack (available at natural products stores; a folded, old T-shirt will do) with warmed castor oil; place oil-side down on your lower abdomen with a hot-water bottle on top; cover with a towel. Do this daily for an hour (but not during your period) for a few months; then gradually reduce frequency to twice a month. This can help clear stagnation from the uterus.
5. Self Fertility Massage
A uterus that is not stimulated to shed the endometrium, or sheds the endometrium inadequately each month, may become atrophied. This means the muscles lose their tone and strength. If the mucosa lining known as the stratum functionale is not stimulated to secrete mucous and build up the endometrium, then the uterus is not lubricated and may become “dry” and weak. You can see why this would not be the best environment to house an embryo. Having a regular menstrual cycle is essential to having a healthy uterus. Self Massage promotes hormonal balance, helps reduce stress hormones, improves circulation to uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes as well as assisting the body in ridding itself of old stagnant blood and tissues.
Eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and lean protein to ensure proper nutrition. Nutritional deficiencies and eating disorders can affect your hormonal systems and lead to irregular periods.
7. Herbs Promote Menstruation
The following herbs may help to bring on a menstrual period. All the herbs in this section will only be effective if the menstrual period is absent due to hormonal imbalance. If the menstrual cycle is absent due to nutritional deficiencies, these herbs may not be as effective. It is very important that diet changes are in place before beginning any herbs to bring back the menstrual cycle.
- Alfalfa (Agrimonia eupatoria)- Alfalfa is a tonic herb, one that supports health by nourishing the body. Alfalfa is of special interest to women because of its estrogenic activity.
- Black Cohosh root (Actaea racemosa)- Black cohosh has been used for hundreds of years to help bring on a menstrual period. Aids in tone, regular function and shedding of the uterine lining. Promotes regulation of the entire menstrual cycle. Helps to calm and support the uterus.
- Black Seed Oil (Nigella sativa)- Black cumin seed oil is used as a healthy dietary supplement. Black seed oil contains fatty acids, vitamins and minerals in a unique cell structure.
- Blue Cohosh Root (Caulophyllum thalictroides)- Blue cohosh is generally used in combination with other herbs, often black cohosh, to treat menstrual disorders. The herb is one of the traditional herbs often used to induce labor.
- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)- Chamomile is an excellent remedy for any emotional disorders that involve stress, anxiety, and tension. The apple-like aroma relaxes and calms and the tea is used home remedies
- Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)- Chasteberry’s normalizing and balancing action is what makes the herb valuable in treating irregular menses and infertility. For chronic problems, it is most effective when taken over a prolonged period of time.
- Dong Quai root (Angelica sinensis)- This is the main herb for this issue. Dong Quai works by promoting blood flow to the pelvis where it will stimulate an absant or scanty period. It also nourishes the blood (it is in nearly all Chinese herbal blood-building formulas). Treats iron deficiency and anemia. One of the best uses is it helps women who are not menstruating to invite there menstruation back. The increased circulation also helps to strengthen and balance the uterus.
- Marjoram,Sweet (Origanum majorana) – Sweet marjoram is a fragrant culinary herb and the sweet, herbaceous essential oil is used in aromatherapy for emotional uplift and soothing nerves. In ancient medicine, Marjoram was used to draw love and fertility.
- Motherwort aerial parts (Leonurus cardiaca)- This herb is very effective at reducing uterine muscle spasm, cramping and improving uterine tone. Motherwort has been found to mildly stimulate the uterus, while also aiding the uterus to work efficiently, which is helpful in bringing on menstruation.
- White Peony (Paeonia officinalis)- This herb is helps build the blood and increase circulation to the reproductive organs. Overall this herb has excellent hormone balancing support. It also aids in pain reduction and relaxation. White peony moves the blood in the pelvic area, good for uterine stagnant conditions including absent period.
- Ylang-Ylang (Cananga adorata)- Ylang-ylang oil is distilled from the early morning, fresh-picked flowers of the cananga tree. Ylang-ylang oil is stimulating, yet relaxing with antiseptic and aphrodisiac properties.
- The following herbs would be used once the first menstrual period comes back or after performing a Fertility Cleanse.
- Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)- Shatavari helps to promote regular menstrual cycles by aiding in regulation of estrogen levels. Shatavari is also an adaptogen that supports endocrine system function for healthy hormonal balance.
- Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris)- This herb has been shown to normalize ovulation in infertile women. Tribulus supports healthy hormone levels, is a known female reproductive system tonic and may increase libido.
- Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)- Vitex is another great herb for amenorrhea due to hormonal imbalance. It helps to balance the hormones while not containing any hormones within the herb. Vitex supports hormonal balance in the body by having an effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis (hormonal feedback loop), correcting the problem at the source. There have been numerous studies showing the effectiveness of vitex for all types of menstrual cycle irregularities when used for many months consistently.
Overall it is extremely important to begin by nourishing the body through good nutrition. Your dietary habits are your foundation, without that it place first, the body is not going to respond to herbs for amenorrhea as well. Reducing stress, exercising regularly and seeking advice on the right herbal program for your needs will get your menstrual cycle back on track. Be patient, the body needs time to establish a cycle. Be gentle with yourself and your body will come back into balance.