We might think that periods aren’t that important unless we’re trying for a baby, but actually our monthly bleed is a key insight into our ENTIRE inner health!
Not only does our bleeding (or lack of it) tell us a lot, but the duration of our whole cycle and the consistency of ovulation is really important to be aware of.
Ovulating is how we make oestradiol and progesterone, which are our feel- good hormones (side note: the hormones from contraceptive pills are not real…). They’re also pretty important for our energy, metabolism, insulin response, libido, skin, bone and hair health, so if we’re not ovulating or having a period then we definitely want to give our body some attention.
FYI we can actually have a period without ovulating too, which is called an anovulatory cycle.
There are so many reasons why we might not be ovulating and why our periods may be irregular.
Why your periods may be irregular:
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
If your period has decided not to come randomly then pregnancy could be the answer, so it’s always recommended you take a test. On the other side of things, if you’re breastfeeding then your hormones may be suppressing ovulation and should return once you’ve fully weaned.
If you have an under active thyroid then it could really be messing with your cycles. A comprehensive thyroid test is one of the first things I do with clients. Make sure you get a blood test to check your TSH, Free T4, Free T3 AND your thyroid antibodies. I’ve lost count of the number of women I see who have been told that their thyroid is within range but then we find high levels of antibodies!
Not Eating Enough
If you’re not putting enough fuel in the tank, the car won’t go. Simple. Your body is extremely clever and wants to protect you… if it thinks there’s a famine then it can shut down your reproductive system to prevent having a baby in an unsafe world. If you want regular periods, you need to really make sure you’re getting enough food into your body.
Not only do we need to make sure we’re eating enough but we also need to make sure that the food we consume is packed full of vitamins and minerals. If we become low in certain nutrients then our body won’t work effectively. The best place to start is by checking your iron levels, folate, B12 and vitamin D. These are key players in the ovulation / period game.
Certain medications can actually interfere with our ability to ovulate and can disrupt our cycle. Things like mood medications, sleep enhancers and even hay fever products can cause some issues so always speak to your doctor if you’re worried.
When we’re stressed, our body can shut down reproduction. It’s another survival tactic and is pretty impressive really. It’s not something to be overly worried about if it’s a one off but if you’re having lots of late or irregular periods due to stressful circumstances then it might be time to make a change. Adding in extra protein and a good adrenal supplement with magnesium can be key to buffer the physical effects of stress.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Once you’ve ruled out everything above, the next port of call is to assess whether you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This is a condition that can lead to irregular periods and long cycles, and can have 4 main causes: insulin resistance, inflammation, coming off the contraceptive pill, or stress. It’s impossible to diagnose this with just a scan so hormone panels need to be done. When working with clients I use the DUTCH test to really get a clear picture of what is happening and then you can use diets and supplements to support the body.