We know that periods occur due to a complex interaction between different hormones, but no two people experience their cycle the same way. A regular menstrual cycle, on average, happens over a period of 28 days, but it can vary from person to person. It is normal for your cycle to be of lengths ranging from 21 days to around 35 days. Due to this varying nature, it is important to keep track of your own cycle to figure out how your menstrual cycle works. After all, a regular menstrual cycle is a sign of good physical health.
Although your dates might shift within these margins occasionally, if you see sustained differences in your period beyond this (erratic, delayed, or missed periods, abnormal bleeding patterns, and so on), you might be experiencing irregular periods.
Some Causes of Irregular Periods:
1. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Consistently irregular periods are one of the most common symptoms of PCOS. PCOS may cause infrequent or very heavy periods, as well as problems with ovulation.
2. Birth Control: Hormonal birth control pills and intrauterine devices can cause spotting and changes in patterns of bleeding in the first few months of use.
3. Thyroid Problems: Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can interfere with menstruation, as the thyroid gland is important to reproductive health.
4. Uterine Fibroids: Non-cancerous growths in the uterus can cause heavy or irregular bleeding.
5. Lifestyle and Other: Stress, dietary habits, and issues with weight can impact your menstruation. Other causes include pregnancy, perimenopause, breastfeeding, and endometriosis.
Food That Can Help You Regulate Your Periods
While you may have heard more about what not to eat during periods in order to avoid exacerbating the symptoms associated with periods—such as too much sugar, salt, or caffeine—there are also some things you can add to your diet that can help you with irregular periods.
1. Ginger: Different studies published in Phytotherapy Research, Pain Medicine, and International Scholarly Research Notices show that ginger can affect the severity of bleeding, reduce pain and other symptoms related to PMS. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and inhibits the production of prostaglandins, which are lipid compounds that can cause uterine cramping. Boil ginger in water and take it with some honey, or simply add ginger to your tea, for an easy way to incorporate it into your diet.
2. Cinnamon: A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology suggests that cinnamon can regulate menstrual cycles and help with PCOS, and a study from the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal shows that it can provide relief from menstrual pain, mitigate bleeding, and reduce the severity of nausea and vomiting. Add some cinnamon powder to a glass of milk for an easy shot of its goodness.
3. Seeds: Nutritionist Shweta Shah recommends the method of seed cycling for hormonal balance. A naturopathic method, seed cycling functions on the basis that particular sorts of seeds such as pumpkin, flax, and chia can help manage the levels of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones. The most common method for seed cycling is to eat 1 tablespoon each of freshly ground flax and pumpkin seeds per day for the first 13–14 days of the menstrual cycle, which is known as the follicular phase. During the second half of the cycle, known as the luteal phase, seed cyclers eat 1 tablespoon each of ground sunflower and sesame seeds per day until the first day of their next period, when their cycle starts again.
4. Shatavari: A herb of the Asparagus family, shatavari is popular in Ayurvedic practices for a range of uses. It is known for its effect on menstrual health. A 2018 study published in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy suggests that shatavari can help with hormonal imbalance, PCOS, and other such reproductive health issues.
5. Chasteberry: This plant, also known as monk’s pepper, is suggested to help with menstrual problems. According to a study in Arzneimittelforschung chasteberry may help inhibit prolactin production, which can cause irregular periods. A review of studies published by the journal Electronic Physician also shows it to be effective with premenstrual, postmenstrual, and fertility disorders.
6. Pineapple: This tangy fruit contains a group of enzymes called bromelain, which can soften the uterine lining and help in its shedding. Use it in your smoothie, or just chop it up for a bowl of freshness and nutrition.