Never knowing when your period will come or dealing with spotting and PMS symptoms daily can make you feel disconnected from your body, but thankfully there are natural ways to get back in sync with your cycle.
According to research published in the journal American Family Physician, it’s estimated that around 14 percent of women have irregular periods. Having a healthy menstrual cycle is just like any other vital sign like blood pressure and heart rate. Getting back into a consistent monthly flow starts with examining important lifestyle factors: sleep, stress, diet.
If you struggle with an irregular period but don’t want to get on the pill (or maybe you are irregular because you just got off the pill!), this article is for you. Today, we’re going to dive into the struggles of an irregular cycle and how to regulate your period naturally.
What is an irregular period?
Let’s start with the basics. Normal cycles can be anywhere between 25 and 35 days. Suppose you find that your cycle is repeatedly falling into a pattern much shorter or longer than that. In that case, you may be experiencing abnormalities with the two hormones that regulate your cycle: progesterone and estrogen.
Maybe you experience bloating, mood swings, and cramps, but then your period never comes. Like, hello, you’ve knocked but now won’t come in?!
Another sign of an irregular period is the consistency and color of blood.
Bright red blood should be present at the beginning of your cycle as it indicates recent bleeding. Dark red blood means a slower flow and slightly older blood which might mean that you may also see late periods. Pink or lighter colored blood is common at the beginning or end of the flow, which indicates a light flow.
If you are experiencing clots, that can be a sign of heavy menstrual bleeding. Doctors will sometimes diagnose this as menorrhagia (sometimes happen outside of the cycle as well)—especially if they are larger than one inch in diameter.
If you think that your period is falling outside of a normal pattern, always consult your doctor or a professional about it.
Causes of irregular periods
Lack of sleep
Not getting enough sleep or enough quality sleep can cause irregular periods, recent research shows. That’s because circadian rhythms contribute to the regulation of your menstrual cycle. For tips on how to get a rejuvenating sleep tune into our podcast episode on sleep and check out these other episodes and articles below:
Stress is at the root of many health issues and diseases. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is deeply connected to estrogen and progesterone, and when levels are up it throws your cycle off. If cortisol is too high, it can delete progesterone, which your body needs to finish the second part of your cycle—the part that builds up the uterine lining to either prepare for pregnancy or shed the lining for your bleed.
Unhealthy eating and drinking
Excessive consumption of processed carbohydrates, sugar, and alcohol can have an impact on your hormones. One glass of wine can increase estrogen levels by up to 10 percent! Even more, inflammation that comes with over consumption of sugar and alcohol can mess with the hormones that regulate your cycle. Combine those with the preservatives and dangerous chemicals found in processed foods and you’ve got the perfect recipe for irregularity, cramps, and bloating.
Stopping Birth Control
If you’ve recently stopped birth control, your body may be going through an adjustment period for your cycle. It can take up to a year for your cycle to regulate after you get off of a copper IUD or hormonal birth control.
Maybe you first got on birth control to help regulate your cycle, the thing here is that when you are on birth control you are not technically having a real period. If you experience an irregular period while on birth control, you may be missing days or taking too many. If you want to learn more about natural birth control options, tune into this podcast episode.
A common reason for irregular periods is hormone imbalance. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS is one of the most common hormonal imbalances that cause irregular periods. PCOS happens when the ovaries make too much testosterone, which inhibits ovulation from happening.
Getting a hormone panel is a great way to check your sex hormone levels including progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.
How to Regulate your period naturally
Having a regular period is great for body awareness and connection. While there is no miracle drug or fast-track to make this happen, getting back in sync will be empowering.
Stress, Sleep, and Exercise
Getting into a regular routine for sleep, exercise, and stress management is the simplest way to get started regulating your menses.
We already talked about the importance of sleep for regulation, but other key lifestyle habits are exercise and stress reduction.
Exercise helps to balance blood sugar, reduce cortisol levels, and flush toxins. If you don’t already have one, consider starting a mind-body routine. This can be movement and journaling in the morning to reduce stress. It can also be going to yin yoga during your bleed phase and then picking up something more intense the week after your bleed. Whatever gets you in a better mental and physical state is key to regulating your period.
Add cruciferous veggies into your diet
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and brussels, help to eliminate excess estrogen and balance hormones. The compound found in these veggies called DIM has been shown to metabolize estrogen and decrease the risk of estrogen-sensitive cancers.
Add herbs for womb support
Include herbs in your daily routine for womb support.
Nettle: deeply nourishing for womb care, pre and post cycle, and for fertility. Ingest as tea, food, broths, sauteed dishes
Ginger: improves digestion, is a warming herb, and supports teh body in metabolizing rtoxins and homrones. Powerful remedy for stagnation (late periods) drink in tea or consume in meal
Shatavari: native Indian adaptogen that helps balance sluggish menstruation or heavy flow. Ingest as tea, tincture, capsule, food
Black Cohosh: often used as hormone replacement therapy in women experiencing menopause. Successfully used to treat PCOS. Ingest as tea, tincture, or capsules.
Red Clover Blossom: high in isoflavones, a phytoestrogen that produces estrogen-like effects in teh body which make its great for conception and to mitigate menopause symptoms
Damiana: tones and strengthens the uterus by increasing blood flow to the pelvic region
Visit a homeopathic doctor or acupuncturist
Talking to a homeopathic or acupuncturist can help with your specific symptoms as everyone is of course different. Some may recommend specific homeopathic medicines or herbs while others may practice Mayan abdominal massage (a noninvasive massage for bad periods, cramps, PMS, back pain, infertility, digestion, and more).
Struggling with an irregular cycle can be extremely stressful and upsetting. But you are your own self’s best health advocate. I hope this piece inspired and empowered you to take your health into your own hands.