Imbalances in women’s hormones including irregular periods are one of the main reasons why women seek naturopathic treatment. This is due to the fact that the most common causes of irregular periods are lifestyle induced including stress, weight loss and rigorous exercise.
What is considered irregular?
A cycle longer than 35 days or shorter than 21 days is considered outside of the normal cycle for most women. Or your cycle might fluctuate widely from short to long back to short again, this is also considered irregular.
Main Causes of Irregular Periods
When the body is stressed the brains computer called the hypothalamus may decide that it’s not a good idea for you to ovulate, as its not as safe time for you to become pregnant. Furthermore, when you are stressed you produce a hormone called cortisol. Under normal conditions your body makes cortisol from cholesterol, but when you your cortisol levels are chronically high due to chronic long term stress they take your progesterone (which is a sex hormone) and convert it into cortisol. Having low progesterone can cause your cycle to become shorter.
It is common for your period to become irregular or to stop all together when your body fat drops below 25%. This is likely to happen due to calorie restriction, excessive exercise or both. Furthermore, when dietary intake is largely from carbohydrates and not from an appropriate mix of carbohydrate, fats and proteins your period may also become irregular of become completely absent.
Having a thyroid condition can also cause irregular periods. The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones T4 and T3, which control the general rate of the body’s functions including menstruation. Both hypothyroidism (so slow thyroid function) and hyperthyroidism (fast thyroid function) can cause your period to become irregular.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition that causes problems with ovulating regularly. When you don’t ovulate at a regular time each month which is approximately day 14 your period, that will cause your cycle to become irregular also.
There are a few different causes of PCOS including high sugar diet, lack of exercise, smoking, abdominal fat and inflammation.
When your body is inflamed the communication between your brain and your ovaries becomes disrupted which can cause irregular ovulation leading to irregular cycles.
One of the main causes of inflammation in the body is a diet high in inflammatory foods including sugar, wheat and gluten, alcohol, dairy and foods fried in vegetable oils.
Other causes of inflammation in the body are environmental toxin exposure, which does include herbicides and pesticides in food chain and plastics, cigarette smoking as well as an overgrowth of unwanted gut bacteria, yeast or parasites.
The other main cause is chronic long term stress, which is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response.
My favourite supplements for help regulate periods
Vitex – this is an amazing herb that stimulates ovulation, increasing progesterone production. This herb is very useful to lengthen a short cycle
Magnesium – great for stress as it lower cortisol so it can free up progesterone.
Zinc – a very important mineral for hormones. Zinc is involved in making oestrogen and progesterone and transporting these hormones around the body
Vitamin D – a hormone precursor essential for progesterone production.
Chromium – a mineral that helps to control blood sugar levels as well as the
metabolism of protein and fat. It is useful for PCOS and insulin resistance.
Tumeric – a powerful natural anti-inflammatory herb
Author: Joanne Kennedy
Joanne Kennedy is a degree qualified Naturopath practising in the Sydney CBD. Areas of speciality include: MTHFR, Women’s hormones; stress, fatigue and insomnia; anxiety & depression; gut/digestive health; and histamine intolerance. Jo has helped hundreds of patients with chronic and complicated health issues gain control of their health and finally heal.
Jo is currently seeing patients in the Sydney CBD at Sydney Health & Wellness Centre and via Skype. For appointments call Jo on 0400 658 003 or email firstname.lastname@example.org