Many people Google “Irregular Periods” in hopes of finding out why they are either missing periods altogether or experiencing irregular periods on and off. We recognize that something must be “off” with our hormones when our periods are irregular but because most of us do not understand the complexities that balance our hormones (involving the brain, pituitary, ovarian, adrenal and thyroid glands) we are often at a loss to know what to do or what it means. For some reason, many women also do not report this to their doctors so sometimes serious underlying causes are not discovered.
The predictable pattern of a woman’s ovulation and menstruation is regulated by a cycle of change in certain sex hormones, especially estrogen. There are many kinds of estrogens present in a female body.
The main estrogen, Estradiol, is produced in the ovaries and in the adrenal glands. After about the age of 50, the ovaries produce less estrogen, and it becomes the job of the adrenal glands to supply estrogen or provide the biochemical precursors used to synthesize estrogen. Therefore women naturally go through menopause and stop having their periods after their normal reproductive years and also stop during pregnancy.
For many women who are in their teens to about age 45, low estrogen can cause missed or irregular periods. In fact, amenorrhea (no periods) in young women is one of the clear signs of low estrogen.
With all the sources of abnormal estrogen in the modern world, thanks to things like toxins (xenoestroegens) and a poor diet, it might be hard to imagine that we could ever have a shortage of estrogen, but sometimes we do.
Related Post: Do You Have Estrogen Excess?
Pharmacist and health expert Sherry Torkos tells us where to look for hidden estrogens.
Symptoms of low estrogen may also be caused by low progesterone, especially in younger women with PMS. Taking a Bio-identical (as prescribed by an integrative physician) Natural Progesterone may help with PMS and bring the estrogen/progesterone balance back to normal. You can learn more about BHRT on my web site at www.theerosgroup.com .
Causes & Solutions of Irregular Periods and Amenorrhea
Stress – both psychological and physical stress not managed may cause prolonged high Cortisol levels which in turn affects all our hormones in significant ways. Your body may stop ovulation to protect itself and attempt to lower the cortisol levels. STRESS and the resulting high or low cortisol levels is behind almost all of the listed causes so it is crucial to learn to manage it in order to be healthy! Find ways of coping daily with the on slot of stress that we all experience in modern hectic lives – yoga, breathing deeply, five-ten minutes of daily mediation/reflection, walking, get organized, ensure a healthy diet including cortisol busting supplements such as femMED STRESS which has all the right ingredients to help manage cortisol levels.
- Poor Diet – many of us typically have a poor diet caused by lack of time, energy and/or knowledge of good nutrition. For example, a high intake of sugar, processed foods and artificial additives, or pesticides is linked with thyroid issues and adrenal fatigue that can raise cortisol, which in turn causes a disruption of all the sex hormones (see above). Do your best to incorporate real foods daily, green vegetables and pesticide/hormone free quality protein. Supplement with a good quality multi-vitamin meant for women.
- Low body weight/excess exercise – both contribute to changing the hormones in our body. If your body mass index (BMI) falls below 18 or 19, you can start to miss your period due to having too little body fat. Body fat is important for creating enough estrogen, which is why very thin women or those with serious conditions like anorexia and bulimia can experience absent or missed periods. Increased physical activity and nutritional demands of intensive exercise can sometimes lead to a low body weight that put you at risk for hormonal problems. Try to live a more balanced life with diet and exercise – no extremes! I also like to recommend daily Hormonal Balance as a supplement to support all our hormones to be more balanced and function optimally; we need all the help we can get in the hormone department!
- Thyroid Disorders may contribute to irregular periods. Studies find that as high as 15 % of cases may be due to hypo or hyper thyroid. Do ask your physician to check your levels carefully, especially TSH, T3 and T4.
- Other hormonal disorders such as the very common POCS (see previous article) can cause significant hormonal disruption and the subsequent insulin sensitivity issues. Losing weight will help with this and many symptoms of POCS may stop. Following a low carb, higher healthy fat and protein diet may help with weight loss and incorporating intermittent fasting has been found to also regulate insulin and body fat. A good supplement such as femMED Weight Management will support the body during this process.
The birth control pill may cause irregular or missed periods for months and even years after discontinued use. There has been a lot written about using synthetic hormones for prolonged time in younger women so you may wish to consider alternative forms of birth control that are not hormonally based.
Overall the steps to follow to address irregular and amenorrhea are:
- Make appropriate diet, lifestyle and stress-reduction changes first.
- Use natural herbs and quality supplements when extra support is needed.
- After incorporating the suggestions above and if still experiencing irregular cycles, consider a Consultation with a good Integrative Health Practitioner (trained in Hormones, Nutrition and Supplements) as needed.
As always, it is YOUR body and only you will be your own best health advocate. Live a balanced, happy and healthy lifestyle!