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How to Fix Your Period without Birth Control

by Laura Beth Schoenfeld, RD

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.

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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!

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  1. I would like to add an important note about myo-inositol. There are many sub-types of PCOS and not everyone benefits with MI supplementation.
    There are a lot of reviews from the women , whose menstrual cycle was actually worsed by MI and ovulation was stooped. You can see a lot of these reviews to various MI supplements sold by Amazon for example. For me it was also a disaster – my periods became after 16 and 19 days while taking MI.

    Recently i found this article ” ‘‘Empiric’’ inositol supplementation in normal-weight non insulin
    resistant women with polycystic ovarian disease: from the absence of benefit to the potential adverse effects
    Amerigo Vitagliano • Michela Quaranta •
    Marco Noventa • Salvatore Gizzo
    Received: 21 January 2015 / Accepted: 10 February 2015
    Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015″

    In the article authors suggest that MI can be not so innocent for some of the sub-types of PCOS and that actually IT CAN RUIN normal ovulation.

    So please, if you have normal cycle and ovulation , and you are lean sub-type of PCOS – be carefull with myo-inositol!

  2. No diet change or health diet (tried them all) improved things for me. Supplements like DIM did help but not for long and my chronic Candida never fully went away.
    It did however in pregnancy and came back 3 months after pregnancy. So something pregnancy hormone related must have an effect.

  3. I always had terrible periods heavy painful and irregular. When I was diagnosed with sleep apnea the sleep specialist said he wished everyone with PCOS could be tested for sleep apnea because it so strongly interferes with the whole hormonal cycle: up regulating some sex hormones and downregulating others,interfering with hormone clearance overnight and of course being choked hundreds of times a night throws the HPA axis way into stress mode. While the linked article mentions it this specialist felt it was really fundamental for PCOS. I had no idea I had it and suffered a premenopausal heart attack 10 years before diagnosis.

  4. I am at the tail end of a whole60, the sole purpose of doing was due to hormone imbalance. My PCP has for years routinely said “well you’re getting older and all we can do is put you on the pill”. Which I have always said no. I feel like this is just treating symptoms and that there is more going on since I am only 40. I am at a normal BMI and maintain a paleo diet. The whole60 has helped but minimally. At this point I am unsure what to do and how best to advocate for myself. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

    • Hi Amy I was on the same dilemma as you all are now. Im 41, and I did not have a period for 8 months. I didn’t go to the doctor right away because there was no way I could be pregnant, and I just assumed I was going through menopause. I finally went last month because I felt so bloated and my breasts were very swollen and tender and I had gained weight , I had my hormones checked and everything looked pretty normal, hormones were just a bit off and I was not in menopause. The doctor mentioned probiotics to help with my bloating and wanted to put me on birth control to help me start my period. I decided not to take the b/c abd I tried the probiotics. Within 4 days I started my period, the bloating went away and best of all my boobs stopped hurting and the swelling disappeared! Oh my God I cannot believe the relief I feel! After 8 months of Neverending Pms syptoms and not menstruating I finally feel normal. I didn’t expect the probiotics to help with my hormonal balance, I took it strictly for my bloating issues. I had no idea they went hand in hand with each other.

  5. Several months ago, prompted by what I believed to be hormone imbalances and lack of ability to purge the excess, I tried something that was called ‘seed cycling’: 1T of each per day – sesame & sunflower during the follicular phase and flax & pumpkin during the luteal phase. Supposedly, it helps to level out the hormones. I have been pleased to experience less intense PMS, less pain in menses, etc.

  6. I am contacting you as a known expert on the topic of female athlete triad, that my wife and I are dealing with.
    My wife is Olympic marathon runner, that stopped training in 2014. She didn’t have menstrual periods for around 3 years. Now we are trying to have a baby, but are so far unsuccessful. She is currently finishing 6th cycle of Cyclo Progynova treatment and her menstrual cycle was regular since starting this treatment.
    As doctors in our country are not very familiar with female athlete triad, I studied scientific literature on this topic. In every guideline it is stated, that hormonal treatment is not recommended and that primary cause (i.e. energy deficiency) must be resolved. She gained weight since ceasing the training (from 48 kg to 55 kg, +14%) and is now weight stable at this BMI of 18,6 for at least a year. So I think that energy deficiency is not the problem, or should she still gain a couple of kg? Otherwise our diet is very clean, gluten free, only real foods.
    But my main question is regarding the hormonal replacement treatment. Would it be better if she ceased the treatment? Now her body is lacking the motive to produce hormones as we’re applying endogenous hormones to the system? Although I am more or less convinced that it would be better to conceive without pharmaceuticals, I lack the arguments to convince my wife as well. Therefore I would be very grateful for your opinion and suggestions on our case.
    Bellow is also full medical history of my wife. Again, many thanks in advance for your thoughts!

    Best regards,

    Medical history:
    Age 31
    Height: 1,72 m
    Competition weight: 48 kg (BMI 16,2)
    Current weight: 55 kg (BMI 18,6)

    end of 2011 – start of heavy training (running on average 150 km per week and up to 200 km per week, 9-13 training sessions), before she was in national professional basketball team
    april 2012 – lost menstruation (before it was always regular, without problems)
    end of 2013 – start of gluten free, low(er) carb diet
    end of 2014 – end of heavy training (now runs approx 5 times per week, around 60 km per week, nothing intense)
    March 2015 – hormonal status (LH 0,872 IU/L, FSH 3,71 IU/L, Progesteron 0,64 μg/L, Estradiol < 0,073 μg/L, Prolactin 9,7 μg/L) without menstruation at that point
    -started norethisterone 5mg tablets per day (Primolut Nor) + clomifen 50mg tablets(Klomifen) (for a total of 3 months)
    -first menstruation on hormonal replacement therapy 26.3.2015
    8.5.2015 Ultrasound – endometrium thickness 4,6 mm, small follicles
    29.5.2015 Ultrasound on 12. day of cycle – endometrium thickness 2,5 mm, follicle size 6 – 7,5 mm
    2.6.2015 Ultrasound on 16. day of cycle – endometrium thickness 2,8 mm
    -Started estradiol valerate 2 mg + norgestrel 0,5 mg (Cyclo Progynova)
    18.8.2015 Ultrasound on 14. day of cycle – endometrium thickness 3,8 mm, follicle size up to 9 mm
    27.8.2015 Ultrasound on 25. day of cycle – endometrium thickness 3,8 mm
    4.9.2015 hormonal status on 5. day of cycle
    TSH 1,35 mIU/L
    Estradiol 8,71 μg/L
    Testosterone 0,21 μg/L
    Progesterone 0,459 μg/L
    FSH 0,666 IU/L
    LH 0,328 IU/L
    Prolactin 11,41 μg/L

    Diet: 2013 and before: typical endurance diet, no junk food, a lot of pasta and vegetables, small amounts of meat (mainly poultry and tuna)
    from 2014 gluten free lower carb diet, still above 200 g of carbs per day, a lot of vegetables, small amounts of meat, still mainly tuna and poultry, try to eat liver at least once per 2 weeks, not a lot of eggs, fear of animal products

  7. The article states,
    A. “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.”
    B. “These stats would suggest that nearly a third of women have some level of menstrual dysfunction.”

    I don’t see how looking at those 3 numbers in particular can suggest that a third of women have some level of menstrual dysfunction. It may well be that a third of women, or even more than that in modern times, have some level of menstrual dysfunction, including a number of important issues that are not mentioned in the introduction of this article, but there is no logic in the leap from statement A to statement B.

    I was really surprised to see endometriosis not mentioned as one of the major menstrual dysfunctions. It affects a substantial percentage of American women. And it can cause certain sufferers a great deal of menstrual misery, month after month.
    (I did see at the end of the article where endometriosis was mentioned in passing as something to be checked out for.)

    My understanding of agnus castus (also called vitex, chaste berry, chastetree, and monk’s pepper) is that it’s been studied quite a bit more (for various health issues) than is claimed in this article. It’s been prescribed for quite a long time by allopathic doctors in Germany for several menstrual issues, and it’s even recommended by mainstreamish-slash-alternative doctors such as Dr. Andrew Weil for a couple of medical problems. There are a number of PubMed research articles on it.
    Here is a simple overview of it by naturopath Laura Briden:
    Some good info on it by Dr. Marcelle Pick:

  8. After going off of the Pill after decades of use, a majority of my migraines disappeared – yay! And, painful irregular periods surfaced- boo! Stumbled upon red raspberry leaves (RRL) in capsule form which settled the issue within 2 months by taking 2 capsules per day (I found one a.m. and one p.m. works very for me.) Amazon and others sell it and I never let my supply run out. It also comes in tea form which i never tried. (Women who have had difficulty conceiving have found RRL tea to work for them.) I did not locate peer reviewed studies on RRL, but based on women’s reviews posted on WebMD and various online retailers I decided to give it a go – so very thankful that I did.

  9. I have found the best paradigm for hormone balancing is from NUTRI-SPEC.NET They have a referral list on their site………2nd PROGEST-E is an oral source of progesterone ,the creams are not potent enough Ideally taken on days 14-28 of your cycle, but may need all month at first….3rd get full spine chiropractic care, ideally from an experienced hands on Dr. ( beware of anyone who uses AK or KST to diagnose as these are very subjective and woo-woo) 4th if your bowels are compromised take care of that ( estrogen is removed via the bowel) and the best pro-biotic should contain Saccharomyces boulardii in addition to prebiotics (eg:guar gum/inulin/glucomannan)

  10. CHris, sorry but you spread little quackery here, more important sleep before midnight? why its everything depend of your circadian rhytm and not hours.

  11. After several years of infertility, my acupuncturist finally said, “lets treat you like you have PCOS”, even though I did not present with cyctic ovaries or irregular/missed periods, I had a hormone imbalance that would not change and belly fat. It had been four years and two losses, I figured why not.
    In addition to weekly acupuncture, I switched to a Paleo based diet, reduced my carb, processed food, and sugar intake to about 5-10%, started a regimen of a boat load of supplements including Ovasitol and started to reduce my stress load with walking and spinning…and letting go a little. I started in January of this year (2015). We abstained from trying to get pregnant until May…it worked, everything I was doing worked! I am 17 weeks pregnant and due in February. I 100% believe that it had everything to do with my diet/lifestyle.
    One thing that is important for women to know, especially the ones who have had losses, is that the reason why it is your diet/lifestyle is all because of the insulin resistance/hormones levels. My testosterone was too high and wouldn’t come down. And imbalanced hormones prevent your eggs from maturing. Which means you may conceive, but you an immature egg means you will not carry to term. Knowing that was enlightening and made me feel better about the losses. Now I feel empowered because I changed the outcome! I made my eggs healthy…AND I did this without the assistance of drugs!!! It amazes me everyday.

  12. I feel like this was lacking, for a Kresser article. I’d like to read more about the effects of high testosterone in women with PCOS, but I’d also like to see some info about women with low testosterone and DHEA, and how this is an equally problematic issue.

  13. Hello – can anyone offer any insight as to the cause of ‘premenstrual asthma’? I have spoken to my family doctor about this, and while I’m grateful he believes me, and even says ‘it feels like you’re suffocating’ which describes it perfectly so I imagine he’s got other patients who complain of the same thing, all the help he offers is to write me a scrip for another asthma puffer (the Ventolin doesn’t help with premenstrual asthma)

    I’ve done research on this and see that there have been studies done on this and the researchers can’t even agree as to a possible mechanism for it – bronchoconstriction? Inflammation? Mucus production?

    All I know is for about 6 or 7 days prior to my period I have very bad shortness of breath. I’ve read of a case study where a woman was intubated multiple times for this. This needs to be taken seriously.

    Please if anyone can offer some help on this I would be most grateful! I don’t want to dread my period due to this but it’s an awful feeling. I actually find myself praying for my period to start so this awful shortness of breath can go away!

    P.S. I am 39, not overweight, been following as close as I can a low-carb Paleo style diet. Lost 12 pounds easily which I’m happy with!

  14. I had regular cycles my whole adult life until age 41 — about 6 months after going Paleo. I dropped about 12 lbs of vanity weight, bringing me to 107 lbs at 5’2″ — and my body did not like it! I was eating a nutrient dense diet, organ meats, good fats, but that weight was simply too low for me. I tried acupuncture, but the trick was simply waiting for my body to adjust; the weight returned within 18 months (on the same nutrient dense diet), and my cycles resumed. I’m healthy and strong, but I’m not super lean, and it’s clear I’m not meant to be!

      • Try bio identical natural progesterone cream. It works wonders for basically every hormonal imbalance 😉 I speak from experience 🙂

        • Did another blood test last night. This one shows that I am slightly higher on progesterone and slightly lower on estrogen. Although both are within “normal” range (per my OB/GYN) it is the difference b/w the two that is somewhat unusual.
          Would the progesterone cream still help with too frequent periods? Seeing that I am already high on it (or too low on estrogen in relation to progesteron)?

      • It’s more common than you seem to think. I have very frequent and extremely heavy periods and it is pretty common for perimenopause women. I have been told my options for relief and they aren’t acceptable.

  15. I stopped having my period in 2006 at age 36 due to stress and chronic dieting. I’ve tried everything to get it back to no avail – acupuncture, Chinese herbs, non Chinese herbs, no processed foods, progesterone cream, etc. I have been very hesitant to try BHRT. My hormone levels are always low when I get blood tested. I would still like to get it back without BHRT, but I’m not sure what to do. Maybe I still don’t eat enough…….I don’t know?

    • Jackie,
      After reading the article above, I saw your comment, and felt compelled to offer this bit of information. Being the youngest of 5 children, (4 of them females) I’ve learned all kinds of things from my older siblings. One of them is the importance of hormone replacement therapy, the RIGHT way! (The absence of balanced hormones can be just as damaging to your body as over medicating or not medicating). Synthetic hormones are the ones you want to stay away from. The reason I say this, is one of my sisters had breast cancer and resulted in a double mastectomy. Her surgeon asked her to share with EVERYONE not to take synthetic hormones. So, 20 yrs ago at the young age of 38 after sharing with my gynecologist ‘classic menopause’ symptoms and his prescription recommendations to treat the symptoms, NOT the root of the problem, I found a Compounding Pharmacist who totally understands my concerns of possible cancer since it’s so prevalent in my family. Women produce 3 estrogen’s, and the one that is directly linked to Cancer (sorry I forgot which one that is) is not included in my NHRT. My hormone blood work is taken including my Cortisol at my General Physician’s lab, the results are then fax’d to the Pharmacy, where she creates just for me, my prescription. I feel great, and it’s THE BEST thing I’ve done for my self and my family! I’ll be happy to share the pharmacy information if you or anyone else is interested. There is a questionnaire to fill out of your medical history and symptoms to help her best determine what you need. The good news? it can be shipped ANYWHERE…so no need to worry about how to pick it up from the pharmacy if you live out of the area. I have a sister in another City that has it shipped to her. Just thought I’d share in case you or anyone else would be interested. I get nothing for it, just happier, healthier women, and that makes ME happy! By the way this is the FIRST post I’ve EVER made on any page…just so you’ll know that’s how passionate I am about this subject. THANKS TB :o}

    • I found that a lot of problems could be caused by low progesterone levels. But then that leads to the question why the low progesterone levels. Only within the past 10 years did I find out that it was due to toxins that get into the uterus, following the connective tissue highway that invests and invades all organs.

      However, falling asleep on the couch late at night with the lights on, especially after ovulation, triggered early menstruation, always 2 days after doing this. I discovered an article in the International Journal of Neuroscience back in the 80’s that said that low progesterone can be caused by too much light exposure at night. It’s not sleep that gets the right level of progesterone, but the lack of light between midnight and sunrise. You do not have to sleep at night to regulate light exposure, as long as night lights are never above 8 watts, or you don’t open the refrigerator door, and avoid all flashes of light (computer screen, reading light, too). The mechanism is easily understood when you realize that melatonin enhances progesterone production (from that article). If you inhibit melatonin production with light, you inhibit progesterone production, too.

      I would get severe pain during menstruation, and a very dry uterine lining, although I still bled. That led me to realize that low progesterone could cause that, since you need it to build up the endometrium. At the same time I realized that a flash of light at night during the luteal phase of the ovarian cycle would disrupt the buildup of endometrium and trick the body into thinking that it was time to menstruate (drop in progesterone).

      I also figured out how the herb yarrow worked to regulate menstrual periods. It enhances melatonin directly and progesterone production indirectly. I switched to taking a capsule of yarrow, starting after ovulation (guessed timing by the strong tendency for ovulation to take within 12 days after menstruation, but that could be messed up by endocrine disrupters in the environment) for 14 days. When I stopped taking the pill, I would start my period within 2 days, almost to the hour. I could control when my period started that way, within 3-5 days of the normal cycle time. I had far less pain then during that cycle.

      The only long term effect that taking yarrow had for me was making my breasts a tiny bit bigger, and, of course, making my periods far more tolerable.

      I learned later that I had an enormous amount of toxin stored in my bones from babyhood, when my mother had exposed me to them, just so I would get sick and die. That toxin travels in the hypodermis, following all the loose connective tissue that surrounds and invades all organs. The hypodermal fluid is continuous with that deeper inside, since it will follow the skin epithelium as it travels inside the body, under the vaginal epithelium, into the cervix and uterus. It also travels into the prostate in men the same way. All ducts have a connective tissue layer under the lining of the duct, and that layer is continuous with all c.t. of the body. So toxins could explain a lot of problems that many do not think of when trying to treat them.

  16. I do not get a period without the Pill due to my gut issues, but I have spent 7 years trying to address it. Unfortunately, there is a point where you have to take the hormones especially for your bone density if you suffer from amenorrhea – osteoporosis in my case.

    • If you are on the pill, you are not getting any period. It’s just a hormonal discharge. The pill suppresses ovulation and, by definition, without ovulation you can’t get a period.
      I’m always surprised that doctors don’t explain this to their patients.

  17. I have been lucky and had regular easy periods. Though I have other family members who have not been so lucky. I have been trying to convince them to consume fermented foods and drinks. For over a year now I have really gotten into fermenting and eating and drinking ferments and not only has my mood been more even keel my health appears to have imporved. I have a great recipe for Curtido if anyone would like something easy to ferement and it tastes better than sauerkraut. It has made a world of difference for me. http://www.nanetteachziger.com/curtido/

  18. There is a typo in your article :
    “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.”

    The author is marked as Chris Kresser – who clearly cannot possibly suffer from PMS being a male :).

    • Noted at the top of the article:

      This is a guest post written by staff dietitian, Laura Schoenfeld.

    • Look at the top of the article — it says it’s a guest post by Laura Schoenfeld, staff dietician.

  19. Excellent post, Laura! Lot’s of things to get right to have a regular period.

    Will there be a followup post on the other menstrual problem of being regular, but extremely painful and fatiguing?

    • Yes, I second that question. I described my issue somewhere down the thread but I think it actually may be better to ask Laura directly.


      going 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. Heavier longer periods, no PMS, no pain, no fatigue.

      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 was still while on BC. I stopped BC 6 month ago to get a better idea of what is going on with my hormones. All results came back normal. Now I am off the BC and still multiple (2 or 3) periods every month and frequent spotting i between.

      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.

      do you have any advice for me?