How to Fix Your Period without Birth Control
HCTP Banner

How to Fix Your Period without Birth Control

by

Last updated on

Dealing with an abnormal menstrual cycle? Has your period stopped completely for no clear reason? This article will help you recover a healthy period using diet and lifestyle changes - without resorting to birth control use.

how to regulate period without birth control
A woman's monthly period can be regulated without birth control. AndreyPopov/iStock/Thinkstock

Having a healthy, normal period is incredibly important for long-term health in women.

Some women believe that having a monthly period is an inconvenience or annoyance. But an irregular or absent period, or one with severe symptoms, is a sure sign that there’s something else going wrong in the body.

That’s why addressing the root cause of the menstrual dysfunction is often preferable to immediately starting hormonal birth control as a quick fix.

While hormonal replacement has its place in supporting women’s health, many doctors are too quick to prescribe birth control to women whose cycle issues could potentially be solved by a change in diet and lifestyle.

In the United States, 30 to 40 percent of the reproductive female population experience pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), and as many as 15 to 20 percent of women have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). At least 4 percent of US women have secondary amenorrhea: a lack of menses for at least six months in a woman who was previously menstruating.

These stats would suggest that nearly a third of women have some level of menstrual dysfunction. I’d bet that most of you ladies reading this article have experienced some disruption in your cycle at some time in your life. (I know I have!)

Fortunately, hormonal disorders like amenorrhea and PCOS are not only manageable using diet and lifestyle changes, but even reversible in most cases.

These hormonal imbalances are almost always caused by one or more of the following:

  • blood sugar abnormalities
  • HPA axis dysfunction (“adrenal fatigue syndrome”)
  • gut disorders
  • impaired liver function/detoxification

In this article, you’ll learn the 10 most important diet and lifestyle factors affecting your hormonal function. Keep reading for my easy-to-implement tips for making changes that put you on the path to a healthy menstrual cycle.

1. Eat a Healthy Diet That Controls Blood Sugar

As with any chronic health issue, the first step is to ensure you’re eating a well-balanced diet that provides you the nutrients you need for optimal physical function. While there are dozens of theories about the “perfect” diet, there truly is no “one-size-fits-all” approach, so I prefer to give general guidelines in this case.

For improved hormonal function, the goal should be to keep blood sugar as steady as possible. A “real food” diet made primarily from whole foods is ideal, with limited amounts of highly refined grains and sugars.

Having period trouble? Here are 10 tips by @AncestralizeMe to fix your cycle before going on birth control.

High-quality protein should be consumed at every meal and snack, and plant foods like vegetables and fruit should make up the bulk of the volume of the diet. Healthy fats should be consumed at each meal as well. A higher fiber intake from plant foods can help with the excretion of extra hormones in the stool.

Micronutrient-dense foods like liver, eggs, fatty fish, leafy greens, and full-fat dairy products provide vitamins and minerals that support metabolic function, detoxification in the liver, and ovarian health.

A balanced Paleo template can be a great fit for women provided they pay attention to the next recommendation listed below.

2. Eat Enough to Meet Your Needs

In my work with patients, inadequate calorie and carbohydrate intake might be the most common contributor to a dysfunctional menstrual cycle. I wrote an article a few months ago describing the common trend of under-eating in the Paleo community. It amazes me how many of my clients fall into this category.

Calorie intake and energy balance are the most important factors affecting the development of hypothalamic amenorrhea. (1, 2, 3) In fact, calorie intake is an even greater predictor of menstrual cycle function than a woman’s body fat percentage.

“Dietary restraint,” or the conscious restriction of calorie intake in an effort to achieve or maintain a certain body weight, is a risk factor for menstrual cycle disturbances. (4) While this is likely due to the unhealthy reduction of caloric intake compared to calorie burn during exercise, I wonder whether or not the excessive dietary restriction that often comes from following an overly strict Paleo diet might contribute to hypothalamic amenorrhea and other stress-related causes of menstrual dysfunction.

Use a calculator to estimate your daily calorie needs based on your current activity levels. You may be surprised to find that you’re eating much less than your body needs, which could be negatively affecting your menstrual function.

On top of adequate calorie intake, for many women, a moderate carbohydrate intake is important for regular menstrual function. A range of 20 to 50 percent of calories from carbs is ideal for improving fertility, depending on your primary underlying issue.

If you have PCOS, some evidence indicates that a lower carbohydrate intake (20 to 30 percent of calories) might be beneficial. If you are a highly active woman with normal insulin sensitivity, a higher carb intake of around 40 to 50 percent of calories could work better for you.

If you need additional assistance identifying an appropriate calorie and macronutrient target for your needs, I’d be happy to help you!

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Part of following a healthy, calorie-appropriate diet is that it will allow you to maintain a healthy body weight. Extremes of BMI, either significantly underweight or overweight, are associated with amenorrhea and menstrual dysfunction. (5)

BMI is a poor measurement of health, as athletic women with high muscle mass will generally have a higher BMI, but generally, a good BMI target for fertility is between 18.5 and 30. Lower than 18.5 is considered underweight, and higher than 30 is considered obese.

If you are overweight, eating a calorically appropriate, nutrient-dense diet and exercising regularly will help you to shed the excess unhealthy body weight that might be negatively impacting your hormones. Studies consistently show a higher prevalence of PCOS in women who are overweight and obese, which is likely related to the insulin resistance seen in many women who are significantly overweight. (6)

Eating a whole foods diet with limited refined carbohydrates and exercising regularly can help improve insulin sensitivity and shed excess body weight, reducing symptoms of PCOS.

If you’re underweight, you need to work on gaining weight, primarily by eating more food in general. If your BMI is below 18.5 and you are struggling with dysfunctional menstruation or amenorrhea, your goal should be to gain enough weight to get back into the 19 to 25 range of BMI.

A low body fat percentage is often correlated with amenorrhea in women; however, there is no solid evidence that identifies an “ideal” body fat percentage for fertility. Body fat percentage is not predictive for the loss of menstrual function in either women with eating disorders or competitive athletes. (7, 8)

The ideal body fat percentage for recovering menstrual function varies among individuals. One study found that women being treated for anorexia nervosa recovered their menstrual cycle at around 23 percent body fat. (9) Some women will lose regular menstrual function at body fat levels lower than that, while others won’t. (As I mentioned before, a big part of that risk is related to overall calorie intake related to calorie expenditure.)

Most health professionals agree that the level of “essential” body fat in women is about 12 percent, so if you are lower than that, you absolutely need to gain fat to recover normal body functioning. However, a healthy body fat percentage range for women may be more like 16 to 30 percent, with percentages in the low to mid-20s likely being ideal for fertility. Much like BMI, there’s a big range, and individual differences will determine what is healthy for one person versus another.

4. Exercise Appropriately

Exercise is important for fertility, and the trick is to develop a workout schedule that allows for enough, but not too much, movement.

General exercise guidelines for women with PCOS are 30 to 60 minutes of any type of activity per day. A combination of strength training and aerobic activity works best for improving the hormonal imbalances often seen in PCOS and other menstrual disturbances. (10, 11)

Avoid exercise styles that make you anxious or overly stressed emotionally, which could exacerbate the physical stress of training. (12) Don’t go to “boot camp”-style classes where the instructor is yelling at you to push harder, and avoid negatively comparing yourself to other women in the class. Your fitness activities should be enjoyable and low stress and make you feel better about yourself when you leave.

And as you know by now, ensuring that you’re not in an excessive energy deficit is crucial to preventing the most common reason for amenorrhea in athletic women. However, some research suggests that there are women who develop abnormal menstrual cycles from the changes in androgenic hormones (i.e., testosterone) that come from high levels of exercise, regardless of their calorie intake. (13, 14) Eating a carbohydrate- and protein-dense meal or snack post-workout can help prevent rises in testosterone after tough workouts. (15)

5. Practice Stress Management

I’d be willing to bet that most of you ladies reading this article have experienced a missed period after a major stressful event. So it’s no secret that stress impacts your menstrual cycle.

However, while occasional stress might throw off a single cycle, chronic stress actually changes your hormonal profile and can have a long-term impact on menstrual function. Stress impairs the ovarian cycle through activation of the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, which affects the output of ovarian hormones like estrogen and progesterone. (16)

Many of the symptoms of “adrenal fatigue syndrome,” such as reduced sex drive, worsened PMS, and even stubborn weight gain, are often related to the impact of chronic stress and HPA axis activation on hormonal balance.

Women under chronic stress are at higher risk for menstrual abnormalities and infertility. (17, 18, 19) And your personality and dispositional resilience to stress may change how much stress affects your menstrual cycle. (20) So if you’re someone who tends to feel crushed by stress rather than thriving in it, you might be at higher risk for menstrual dysfunction when faced with chronic stress.

If this sounds like you, adding in some regular stress management techniques is a crucial part of your period-fixing program. Regular meditation and yoga are two of the easier mind–body practices that can get you feeling better quickly. I recommend Headspace for a convenient guided meditation app and YogaGlo.com for at-home yoga classes if you can’t go to a local studio.

6. Improve Your Digestion and Elimination

Excess hormones are eliminated through our poop, so having regular bowel movements and a healthy digestive system is crucial to good hormonal function.

Not surprisingly, there’s a two-way street between hormonal balance and gut function. Your ability to eliminate excess hormones through your stool will affect your hormonal profile, and fluctuations in hormones can affect your bowel function too. (21)

New research is showing that the gut microbiome has a major impact on hormonal balance. (22) Dysbiotic flora in your gut and/or gut permeability (“leaky gut”) activates your immune system, driving up insulin levels and leading to high levels of androgens. This immune activation also interferes with ovarian follicle development.

To rebalance your gut flora, increase your consumption of fermented foods, as well as vegetables of all kinds. Both starchy and non-starchy veggies contain components that help feed beneficial gut flora, and fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha provide live gut bugs that can help boost the diversity of your gut flora. If you have “leaky gut,” following a gluten-free whole foods (Paleo-esque) diet is the first step to repairing the damage caused by gut permeability.

If you’re struggling with major gut symptoms like constipation, bloating, loose stools, or reflux, your digestive function could be exacerbating your hormonal imbalance. Be sure to work with a professional if you need extra help normalizing your digestive system.

7. Sleep on a Schedule

Sleep and sleep disturbances are increasingly recognized as determinants of menstrual function. (23) The underlying cause for this is the disruption of the circadian rhythms, which drive the cyclical nature of hormone release and are primarily disrupted by inappropriate light and dark signaling. (24)

In teens, girls with erratic sleep schedules who typically stay up late and sleep in late have significantly worse PMS symptoms than girls who go to sleep early. (25) Women who perform night shift work have a much higher risk of menstrual disturbances than those with a normal daytime work schedule. (26)

The primary hormone that is responsible for these circadian rhythm-related menstrual disturbances is melatonin, also called the “sleep hormone.” (27) Inappropriate patterns of light and dark exposure disrupt melatonin secretion, thus negatively impacting the menstrual cycle.

To get your circadian rhythms on a normal pattern, avoid bright and artificial light at night and get plenty of sunshine during the day. Set a regular sleep schedule and go to sleep well before midnight. If you’re dealing with insomnia, check out these great tips for improving your sleep.

8. Supplement If Necessary

There are a handful of supplements that can be helpful for generally balancing hormones, as well as for improving the metabolic disturbances that occur in PCOS.

For women with amenorrhea, I typically recommend supplementing with vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium, probiotics, and methylated B-vitamins. Optimizing vitamin D status and supplementing with vitamin A if necessary can be helpful too. I talk more about supplements for amenorrhea in this article.

One largely unknown B vitamin that has been studied for its effects on PCOS signs and symptoms is inositol. There are two major supplemental types of inositol: myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol. Myo-inositol improves insulin sensitivity, reduces androgens, and can even restore ovarian activity in women with PCOS. (28) D-chiro-inositol appears to reduce androgens even better than myo-inositol. (29)

It’s important to get both myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol in a 40:1 ratio, which is the physiological plasma ratio and the amount found to be most effective for promoting ovulation and healthy hormone balance in PCOS. (30) The best way to get these two forms of inositol in a balanced ratio is in a supplement called Ovasitol, which you can order here. (Use my clinician code to get a discount: 127605)

A common herb used for hormonal imbalance, especially low progesterone, is vitex, or chasteberry. There isn’t a great deal of research on vitex; one small study found that 10 of 15 women with amenorrhea recovered their periods after taking chasteberry for six months. (31) Talk to your doctor about adding in vitex as an additional hormone-boosting supplement.

9. Avoid Environmental Toxins

Our modern environment is full of chemical toxins, in our food, in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, and in the cosmetics and hygiene products we put on our body. Many of these chemicals have the ability to affect our hormones and are called endocrine disruptors. (32) These endocrine disruptors are known to have significant effects on your risk of not only PCOS and menstrual dysfunction, but also thyroid disorders, obesity, and cancer. (33, 34)

Chemicals called xenoestrogens are found everywhere; as BPA in our food, phthalates in our body care products, and atrazine in our landscaping. While we can’t completely avoid these hormone-damaging toxins, we can significantly reduce our exposure to them.

Use the Environmental Working Group’s guide to cosmetics to choose toxin-free body care products, and their food scores guide to avoid eating toxins. Check out Chris’s series on toxic skincare products for a breakdown of the types of products to avoid or replace. And see BeautyCounter for a safe supply of cosmetics, hair care, and beauty products.

10. Get Acupuncture

While the evidence for acupuncture’s effects on menstrual function is mixed, there is some support for the use of acupuncture for improving menstrual function and reducing symptoms of PMS. (35, 36, 37) One study found that acupuncture was as effective as NSAID therapy for dysmenorrhea, a cycle with severe PMS symptoms, especially cramping. (38)

From my own personal experience, I find that acupuncture makes a huge difference in my stress levels, and I noticed reduced PMS symptoms when I was getting acupuncture somewhat regularly.

Acupuncture should be an adjunct to other lifestyle changes due to limited evidence of its efficacy. If you’ve already made the changes discussed above, you might want to try adding regular acupuncture for an extra dose of hormone balancing treatment.

Next Steps

These top ten tips have given you plenty to chew on, and I hope that the majority of you will experience improved hormonal function and a healthy monthly menstrual cycle after implementing these changes to your diet and lifestyle.

However, this shouldn’t be the end of your health journey. While you’re making these changes (especially if you’re not seeing improvements), you should see your doctor for further testing for thyroid issues, pituitary tumors, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, uterine fibroids or scarring, or any other number of metabolic or structural issues that can cause disrupted hormones.

Consider getting hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with a licensed medical practitioner who is trained in the use of oral or topical hormones. Sometimes a little boost can help reset your cycle and get your own hormones producing more normally.

Check your medications and ask your doctor if you need to make a change. Certain medications can affect menstruation, including: antipsychotics, cancer chemotherapy, antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, and allergy medications.

Finally, if you need help identifying the diet and lifestyle issues that are holding you back from healing, I’d love to work with you. I truly enjoy helping women who are experiencing hormonal disturbances make the changes they need to recover a healthy period and start feeling better immediately!

Now its your turn. Did you experience a menstrual cycle disturbance? What diet or lifestyle change made the biggest difference for you to get your period back to normal? Share your story in the comments below.

About Laura: Laura uses her knowledge of traditional and biologically appropriate diets to improve her clients’ health. Growing up with a family that practices Weston A. Price principles of nutrition, she understands the foods and cooking practices that make up a nutrient dense diet.

With her strong educational background in biochemistry, clinical nutrition, and research translation, she blends current scientific evidence with traditional food practices to help her clients determine their ideal diet.

You can find her at AncestralizeMe.com, on Facebook, and Twitter!

  1. A combination of vitamin A and E got rid of very heavy and prolonged periods for me. I have read articles saying vitamin A helps. Other articles that say vitamin E helps. However, I believe you need both. I learned that it is actually the vitamin E that helps, but you need the vitamin A, too. Without the vitamin A, your body uses up vitamin E very quickly.

      • I don’t have the reference. I read that 30 plus years ago. It said that when you don’t have enough vitamin A, the body starts to substitute vitamin E for some of the purposes it would normally use vitamin A for. I distinctly remember reading this because it explained what had happened to me.

        I started taking vitamin E and noticed my periods normalized. However, when I stopped vitamin E, my periods went back to being extremely heavy. Then I tried adding vitamin A. After a month or two of both vitamin A and E, I stopped supplementation and never had the problem again.

        After accidentally stumbling upon this cure for myself, I read an article in Prevention about a French study that said Vitamin E helped most all of the women who had this problem. When it didn’t work, I think they tried biotin and that worked for everyone left in the study. (This was back a long time ago when Prevention had more substantial articles.) Later I read in Melvyn Werbach’s book that vitamin A, bioflavonoids and vitamin C were quite helpful. In his book “Nutritional Influences on Illness”, he writes:

        71 women with menorrhagia were found to have significantly lower serum vitamin A levels than healthy controls. 40 of these women were treated with vitamin A 25,000 IU twice daily for 15 days. Menstruation returned to normal in 57.5% and diminished in an additional 35%. 17-Beta-estradiol production was increased more than 100% (Lithfow DM, Polizer WM. Vitamin A in the treatment of menorrhagia S Afr MedJ 51:191-3, 1977).

        Also, he mentions another small study of women given bioflavonois plus vitamin C, 200 mg of each 3 times daily.
        Supplementation reduced symptoms in 14/16 patients. Of the 2 failing to respond, 1 had endometriosis and the other had metrorrhagia (Cohen JD, Rubin HW. Functional menorrhagia:Treatment with bioflavonoids and vitamin C Curr Ther Res 2:539, 1960.

  2. Could you please substantiate the claim, “Having a healthy, normal period is incredibly important for long-term health in women.” I get that having a “healthy, normal” period is better than having an “unhealthy, abnormal” period, but is there a reason why a woman needs to have a period at all?

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Mirena IUD and the fact that for the last 12 years, I have been in complete control of my fertility AND I have no periods, except when I have removed the IUD to conceive. Periods can be a major inconvenience, especially for mothers with young children, women who travel, women who do shift work and can’t always get to a toilet as needed.

    Is there any health *benefit* to bleeding monthly?

    • I can’t speak to the long term effects of IUD use, but if someone is not menstruating and is NOT on some type of birth control device, then there is definitely something wrong.

      I don’t know if there’s enough evidence to say that using an IUD for years and not menstruating is safe OR unsafe.

  3. I used to have major issues with my period, from its onset into my 30s. In my late 20s I was diagnosed with PMDD so severe that a doctor wanted to put me on SSRIs to manage it. I refused, convinced that there had to be a simpler solution…I even asked the doctor if it could be diet related — that conversation didn’t go well.
    I’m glad I stuck to my premise. 10 years ago, when I was 33, I discovered the paleo diet, and within 3 months of omitting gluten and processed foods I had a normal period for the first time, EVER. No more cramping and bleeding so bad I had to stay home from work, no more PMS for weeks before my period started! In fact, this one change is the biggest reason I’ve stuck to a mostly Paleo diet.
    Recently, I tried adding what I thought was a low-gluten, barley based beer so I could expand my options at bars and social settings (it gets tiresome to have such extreme limits – most wines and mixed drinks are far too sweet, and I am not a fan of hard liquor)…it seemed alrignt at first, but about 6 months later I noticed my period issues returning. I changed to a beer that was tested and confirmed to have a gluten content of less than 10 ppm, and my very next cycle was back to normal!

  4. YES! It’s discouraging when women just say, “I’ll just go on BC to balance my hormones.” I think imbalanced hormones are a SIGN that something isn’t working well, and we need to figure out what’s causing it. I used to lose my period for months when I was under-eating/over-exercising/over-stressed, but I never really saw it as a big issue at the time. EVERY time, acupuncture would prompt it within 2-3 days.

    Years later, I started suffering from TERRIBLE PMS symptoms. This year in particular, I started suffering from multiple panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and insomnia one week before my cycle. Once my period did come, I was totally “normal” again! My doctor put me on progesterone cream and that was a GAME changer. I’m still working on getting off the hormonal cream by being kind to my belly and managing my stress. Learning so much about my body these past few years, and taking all of these setbacks as growing opportunities!

  5. I was seeing lots of flashing lights while reading this. However, I am in a unique situation. Ive has 3 early pregnancy losses, and a 28 week still birth, in addition to a live birth. with the live and still birth I had incidences of undiagnosed placenta accreta which lead to life threatening hemorrhage. Its safe to say my uterine lining has been through war. I am mthfr (homozygous) with 2 copies of the c677t mutation. I know many of the issues above apply to me, however, I am not sure how to differentiate between the environmental/hormonal issues in the article, and the clinical history. Would love to know more.

    • I am 80% paleo. No diary. Sensitive to both gluten and dairy. I started prescript assist and sacramaides bularidee(Sp) which have helped. I have acne (face/back) hyperpigmentation that started as melasma during pregnancy from 5/2009 on. Brain fog, fatigue etc. I just got the paleo code, but haven’t had time to read it (my son just started kindergarten, and I work full time during a stressful merger). Any advise is appreciated more than you know.

  6. Sleep in pitch dark, using a shade if necessary. On the day before, day of, day after the full moon sleep so the moon shines full on you. This will make periods regular and lined up with the moon’s cycles. Many need to avoid gluten. Completely eliminate white flour & HFCS. There is no need for them. Sugar in the diet should be as infrequent as possible.

  7. I’m so glad you mentioned inositol, it has helped me so much! And as you say, it seems like few people have heard of it. I never lost my period except for a few months after stopping birth control, but they were always irregular and I was told by my naturopath that I was not ovulating. I was diagnosed with PCOS and put on an inositol supplement along with a few other supplements. It helped tremendously with bringing my hormones back into balance, making my period more regular and clearing up my hormonal acne.

    I had already been eating a paleo diet and trying to manage stress, sleep, etc. to the best of my ability for ~3 years so I am so grateful to have found inositol – it was the missing piece for me.

  8. I actually had no period for several years (probably due to intense gym workouts). I didn’t experience any negative effects but figured it meant something was ‘off’ and should do something about it. As soon as I started taking Maca… BAM! it came back and I’ve stayed regular ever since. Now that I seem to have hit perimenopause, I’m skipping periods but am otherwise symptom free (no hot flashes or night sweats). LOVE it!! 🙂

  9. Now that I am 45, I am experiencing perimenopause, however I am more tired now, moodier, more stomach problems and Crohns problems during the week of or up to 2 wks before my period.
    I think I have histamine issues, so I’m not sure which probiotics to take, if any.
    Can you suggest a few supplements that may help?
    Thanks nm

    • They have found lots of yeast embedded in the intestinal lining of those with Crohn’s or colitis. (This was discovered only in the last few years.) Estrogen increases the growth of yeast, so perhaps your peri-menopause hormonal imbalance is what is aggravating your Crohn’s Disease. Dr. John Lee has a book you should read — What your Doctor may NOT tell you about Menopause. According to him, perimenopausal symptoms are often a result of high estrogen relative to progesterone. However, the answer isn’t always just adding in progesterone. Sometimes you need thyroid because thyroid helps the body produce progesterone and eliminate estrogen. By the way, thyroid helps get rid of yeast.
      Adding natural progesterone sometimes causes an initial flare of yeast growth, but in general helps get rid of yeast. They did a study with rats. Removed ovaries. Gave them estrogen, they ended up with yeast overgrowth. Gave them progesterone, no yeast overgrowth. So you should not be afraid of natural progesterone. Artificial progesterone can be a problem though.

      • As for probiotics and histamine intolerance, look up what Chris Kresser has to say about bacillus probiotics.

        Also, if you can get your estrogen levels under control, this should help with your histamine problem, since estrogen increases histamine and vice versa. Make sure you have copper that is bound to ceruloplasmin, so the copper can do its job in creating the DAO enzyme to break down histamine. You need boron to create the druloplasmin. You may be low on boron if you have been exposed to aluminum.

      • Ok thanks for the responses
        But now I don’t know where to start…
        How do. I get my hormone levels checked ? My GP says it’s not necessary. Is there someplace online in Canada I can purchase?

        Nm

        • ZRT laboratories in Oregon, USA does saliva and blood spot testing of hormones. There is no prescription necessary in the USA for these tests. However, if you live in California or New York, you have to have some sort of a health professional order these for you. Call and ask. I don’t know about the law in Canada. If you need a professional to order the tests, call ZRT labs. Perhaps they can help you find a naturopath or someone that is familiar with their tests.

          One of the things you can try is Calcium-d-glucarate. It improves the efficiency of estrogen disposal. Sometimes it is quite a dramatic change. Sometimes it doesn’t change things much. (It depends on the bacteria in the intestines.) If you try it, you have to start with just a little bit, and gradually work up to the recommended three pills with each meal. Also, you need to come off of it gradually. Too quick a change in estrogen levels up or down may initiate a migraine.

          • Getting your yeast levels down will help lower the estrogen, too. Yeast make PGE2 that increases the body’s production of estrogen from other hormones. Yeast also make estradiol, the strongest of the human estrogens. There are lots of things that help get yeast levels down. Of course there is antifungal herbs and drugs. There is also things you might not suspect as being helpful. NAD and pantethine are two vitamins that will help get rid of yeast. (That is pantethine, not pantothenic acid.) Borax is a good antifungal. Coconut oil and olive oil help kill yeast. Corn oil and other polyunsaturated oils increase yeast biofilm formation and yeast growth. The polyunsaturated oils also interfere with the release, transport and use of thyroid. So, keep those polyunsaturated oils at a minimum in your diet.

  10. I have been following AIP paleo with many reintroduction for well over a year and a half. I have been on birth control, but quickly noticed an absence of pms symptoms while on strict AIP. These have all returned now, but with no certain food cause, though I suspect maybe the estrogens in seeds though I do not eat much of these. I just turned 40 and am wondering if it is perimenapause causing me to be so irregular or something else. I was recently found to be insulin resistant and have residual inflammation markers despite no signs of leaky gut any more and a BMI of 25. My husband just had a vasectomy and gets checked for effectiveness this month. So I hope to be off the birth control and getting my hormones checked soon. Any idea what I should expect with getting off of birth control after taking it for a really long time?

  11. I had irregular periods for my whole life until I started taking krill oil. It was amazing … I went from completely unpredictable periods, skipping some months, other times very late to having a monthly period like clockwork. It regulated within a month of starting. I still tke krill 10 years later and have been regular ever since.

    It made me wonder what other behind the scenes functions were regulated that I dont even know about.

  12. What if you’re doing all of the above (still working on the stress management, but managing) and still not menstruating? I am not underweight or overweight, if anything gained with age (42). It has been 5 years with no menstruation, OB/GYN says everything is ‘fine’, have had multiple tests, ultrasounds lab work etc. At this point, is progesterone (compounded) a good thing to look into? And yes, I do have gut issues that have been unresolved ie no doctor has figured it out yet. Am Paleo but eat good carbs. Thoughts?

    • It’s possible that you’re still underweight for your body type. I had an irregular period for years due to restrictive eating, and then I lost it completely when I added high intensity exercise into the mix, 6 days a week. I went to the doctor and they said everything was functioning normally, I was just low in vitamins B6 and D3. I started taking those, but it wasn’t until I purposely stopped all exercise except light cardio and ate 3000 calories a day that it came back. I put on a little over 10 pounds and it came right back. I wasn’t underweight to begin with, but my body just needed more fat to function normally. Like the article said, every woman is different!

      • Interesting! That’s encouraging. I’m 5’3″, 110 lbs, but I lost my period at around 120-125 lbs. Hm…..

        • I think my natural set weight is about 117 and I’m 5’4″, but I had to get up to 128 before it came back. I think once your body gets stressed out it wants to have a little more fat then you need before it feels safe to menstrate again.

          • Wow, I wonder if I could get my period back now by gaining a lot of weight………I would think at least 10-20 lbs? But it’s been 10 years without my period and I’m 46 years old now.

      • I wanted to add that this happened to me as well. At an average body weight, I completely lost my period for 5 months when I started doing crossfit 6 times a week. I refused to believe that exercise was the problem (since my weight was completely normal, and the routine felt really good), and chose instead to blame it on lack of sleep and stress. It wasn’t until I sprained my ankle and stopped going to the gym completely for 2.5 weeks and gained a little weight that my period came back. I still do crossfit, but only two times a week and for a shorter amount of time. I think it is all my body can handle of this type of high intensity exercise.

  13. aside from a fortnightly period for three years now inflammation is my biggest issue. Your point about heslthy weight is well made and to be honest I don’t know what else to do. I have been gluten free for three years, paleo for one, exercise regularly meditate and manage my sleep – I cannot get my weight to shift and my stomach is constantly bloated (I genuinely can change a dress size in a day from morning through to evening). Anything else I should be doing?

    • You may want to try the AIP version of the Paleo diet. I’ve been on it the past six months and have had a lot of success with it. Better energy, better mood, reduced digestive issues. I think by cutting out all the grains, nuts, and beans that used to be staples of my diet, my body’s better able to process and absorb the nutrients I need.

  14. Besides the story above, I haven’t had any major problems with my cycle again. However, I watch my cycle like a hawk. If something is a little off, my acupuncturist usually has some Chinese medicine to set it right again.

  15. I usually have regular cycles. However, I didn’t have a cycle for a year once. It is hard to tell, but I think it was stress and diet and gut problems. I had been eating SOY and a semi vegetarian diet which I believe was a factor. I tried following the “Patient Heal Thyself” diet as much as I could on a budget. I saw an endocrinologist, and she recommended a semi long dose of prednisone or birth control or some other drug. I had one sample dose of something strong, but also did the major diet change. My stress also lessened. I started cycling again and have been back to normal again for many years now. It was a strange thing.

  16. Go careful with vitex (chasteberry) if using it. It does work! I guess I had hormonal imbalence because I couldn’t get pregnant until I took this herb, but it needs to be taken for three months before trying for a baby, otherwise, if you are having fertility problems, you may miscarry because you have not been taking the product long enough. Also, and most importantly, you are not meant to continue taking vitex whilst pregnant, to avoid any hormonal effect on the baby. Best not to take my word for it but speak to a professional about it.

  17. Cutting out gluten was a game changer for me – PMS, bloating and pain all went away within ~6 months and never came back.

    • Awesome! I had a client who had a similar situation. Doctors told her she was infertile and now after switching to a gluten-free whole foods diet she’s on her 2nd pregnancy. 🙂

  18. The advice in the article all makes a lot of sense to me. In order to correct my irregular and EXTREMELY painful periods I used magnesium, fermented cod liver oil, biokult probiotics, pure encapsulations nutrient 950 w K, pure encapsulations DIM detox (only for 2 months) and I’ve been on a mostly primal diet with low-moderate exercise. I can’t say if one thing or all the things combined did it…but that’s what worked for me! 🙂 It seems like I especially have to keep up with the magnesium to avoid pain. I am currently pregnant.

  19. When you talk of calories, you have to be specific in types of calories, food is used as building blocks, not necessarily as fuel. A simple calorie calculator could make someone very ill if the proper proportion of high quality fats, protein and carbohydrates (which we need almost none of) if it is used in a simple way like this.

      • In fact 90% of my practice is women and almost all of them correct their menstrual issues with my advice. The problem is not carbohydrates, but, yet again, inflammation.

          • Yeah, this advice is aimed at a little too general of an audience.
            Low-carb (despite being “real” food) immediately stopped my period for 3 years and counting.

            • Katherine,

              this is so weird. LCHF resulted in multiple periods for me. It’s been 18 months now and I have 2 periods every month with a frequent in-between spotting pretty much every month as well.

              Did the blood work, the US, the biopsy and so far the docs could not find anything wrong whatsoever other than to blame the LC diet.

              Prior to LC, my cycle was absolutely regular for 15 years.

              This is so frustrating. LCHF is the only life style where I don’t starve, have plenty of energy, feel good and have no mood swings.

              What’s your carb/calory intake is like?

              • I’m a little confused…- what is frustrating? You said you get your periods.

                I don’t know my calorie or carb intake. I just eat. My diet varies wildly depending on my financial situation and stress level.

                • having 3 periods each and every month is frustrating.
                  That’s a bit too much, don’t you think? I don’t mind 1 normal regular period. It’s the fact that I am bleeding 21 days every month that makes me concern about what is going on.

                • I thought you said you have been doing Low Carb and your period disappeared for 3 years? So, do you mind telling me how many gm of carbs do you aim for to stay LC?

                • @Elle (Sorry, it won’t let me reply to your comment.)
                  Oh, I see.
                  I DID low carb, I have been recovering from the weight loss since the end of 2013. When I was following a low carb diet I would eat somewhere between 0 and 30 gm per day. Again, this varied depending on what blog I was nutritional research I was following at the time, haha.

                • I see. So you went to 30 gm a day and your period disappeared. I went to 30 gm a day and I got 2 extra periods every month. I am so confused. Both my GP and OB/GYN seem to be confused as well.
                  Hope Laura can suggest something.

                  Thank you for sharing.

          • I guess I need to reply again, I do not use low carb diet, I just said we don’t need it. It’s the proper fats that are much more important. The world expert uses my advice and she gets great results (Dr. Natasha Turner), that’s all I’m saying.

  20. Great article! I have been struggling with hypothamic amenorrhea for three years due to ristriction and over exercising. How would you adjust the calculator for gaining weight. My need comes to around 2200, would 2500 be a good amount to increase bmi?