“Taking back control of our menstrual cycles is one of the most powerful steps we can take in looking after our reproductive health” according to Dr Brooke Vandermolen, obstetrics and gynaecology doctor. Getting to know your body is something most women should do but don’t, until they need their body to get into a condition for a particular function. Such practice was once passed from mothers to mothers, but has since been lost due to modernisation.
What are Irregular Periods?
Irregular period is not uncommon, while you should not be alarmed, it does tell you a lot about your body condition. Irregular period is when the gap between the start of one period and the start of the next is always changing. A normal period cycle is between 28 to 35 days, varying a few days each month sometimes. Your period is considered irregular when you are not able to predict reliably when your next period will start. If your cycle lies outside of 21 to 35 days; or your period lasts shorter than 2 days and longer than 7 days; or there is a difference of 20 days between your cycles, these are signs you have irregular period.
What is the Cause of Irregular Periods?
Normal period cycle is regulated by hormones and irregular periods are a result of disruptions to the balance of your hormones.
Natural Hormonal Changes
It is normal to have irregular periods for the first few years after puberty. When you reach perimenopausal years, your periods may become irregular – heavier, more frequent, more infrequent.
Hormonal Changes Caused by Birth Control
Birth control pills and Mirena IUD Coil, both contain progesterone can cause the uterine lining to become thin and your periods to stop or become very light.
With the rise of ‘fitspiration’ on social media, you may be motivated to exercise. While social media has given us amazing access to fitness tips and workout programs, over exercising can cause our brain to slow or stop the release of hormones that control ovulation. When ovulation is not regular, so will your period. Exercise is a great way to stay healthy and fit, but keep it to a healthy schedule and do not overdo it.
Extreme Weight Changes
Some form of exercises associated with low body weight such as long distance running, is likely to cause irregular period or light flow. This is because the body is led to believe it is in a starvation state and the body begins to shut down, including your reproductive system, as it would feel is it not the right time for you to get pregnant. Balance the amount of energy you used with adequate nutritional intake, and allow your body some time to retune itself to a regular cycle.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Causes of Irregular Periods
Besides imbalances in your hormones, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), period irregularity is also caused by a few patterns of imbalance in your body.
Blood and Kidney Yang Deficiency
These deficiencies can cause your period to be irregular and light. Blood deficiency is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as pale complexion, poor memory and insomnia. If you suffer from Kidney deficiency, you may experience sharp cramp pains and watery menstrual blood.
Late Periods Caused by Cold Uterus
If your cycle is longer than 32 days, it can be due to exhaustion and internal cold-damp conditions from Spleen Qi deficiency. Cold uterus and internal cold-damp conditions are often caused by ‘healthy eating’ such as frequent consumption of salads instead of cooked vegetables and consumption of cold drinks.
Problems Caused by Irregular Periods
Difficulty in Conceiving
Irregular periods and irregular ovulation go hand in hand. It is harder to get pregnant as you may not ovulate as frequently. Underlying health conditions such as PCOS may affect your fertility, if you have difficulty conceiving after 6 months, do visit a doctor for advice.
Greater Risk of Early Death
A recent study shows that women with irregular or long period cycles are at a higher risk of dying before the age of 70. While you should not be alarmed about your irregular periods for now, it shows how much we do not know about what our menstrual cycles tell us about our health.
How to Solve Irregular Periods
Changes in diet and lifestyle
Get enough sleep, a minimum of 8 hours (easier said than done). Work on your nutritional intake, ensure you are not over counting calories, and starve your body of the energy it needs. Choosing barrier methods of contraception over hormonal ones will help regulate your period and do more good for your health. Hormonal birth control creates a heavy load on the body, causing Liver Qi Stagnation and affecting your menstrual period.
Pineapple is commonly used as a home remedy for period irregularities. It contains bromelain, an enzyme to soften the lining of the uterus and regulate your periods. Cinnamon helps to regulate period cycles, especially for women with PCOS. Add cinnamon regularly to your diet, such as to your daily cup of coffee. Herbal concoctions such as the Chinese Medicinal “8 Treasure Soup” (Ba Zhen Tang), helps to improve poor blood circulation and irregular periods. You can get the pre-packed soup from any Traditional Chinese Medicinal stores and follow the cooking instructions to prepare yourself a bowl of traditional health food.
You can add to your nutritional intake with a transdermal herbal supplement to balance your hormones naturally. Meditrina Ageless Herbal Cream, with its natural plant-sourced formulation, is an excellent choice. This cream does not contain animal or synthetic hormones that can impact your health. Its natural formulation supports your body in regulating its own hormones to retune its natural cycle over three to six months.