Menstrual Health



Abnormalities in menstruation in women range from not having any menstruation to having heavy frequent menstruation, and everything in between. Although the causes of menstrual problems vary from person to person, lifestyle changes may help to correct them.

 
  • Overview
  • Action Plan
  • Ask The Doctor
  • Success Stories

Overview


Many women (up to 14%1) report irregular menstrual cycles, pain with their period, heavy periods, and other menstrual complaints. Causes of abnormal menstrual bleeding may include:

  • Certain medications
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Diabetes
  • Pituitary gland dysfunction
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Fibroids
  • Endometrial polyps
  • Emotional/physical stress
  • Others

Seeing your physician and undergoing some simple testing may demonstrate hormonal abnormalities contributing to menstrual complaints. However, most often the SAD diet-style and the additional body fat it creates is a major cause of these hormonal changes, and these most often come back to normal with Nutritarian eating and body fat reduction. Both overall estrogen and testosterone can be reduced, and the estrogen progesterone ratio improved with excellent nutrition and regular exercise. Although not all causes of menstrual disorders can be changed with lifestyle changes alone, many women will find that a Nutritarian eating style will help, particularly in those with PCOS, diabetes or fibroids. A Nutritarian eating style causes a shift in the regulation and cyclical pattern of hormones which allows for a more regular and normal menstrual cycle. This transition can sometimes take many months in some women, so be patient.

 
References
  1. Sweet MG, Schmidt-Dalton TA, Weiss PM, Madsen KP. Evaluation and management of abnormal uterine bleeding in premenopausal women. Am Fam Physician 2012, 85:35-43.

Action Plan


Diet

  • A Nutritarian eating style helps to reduce body fat, even difficult to detect visceral fat, moderate hormonal shifts, and reduce blood sugar which can significantly impact the menstrual cycle in a positive way.
  • Many women will notice a gradual shift in their menstrual cycle bleeding pattern as well as pain levels over many months after following a Nutritarian eating style.
  • Some foods further help menstrual disorders by reducing estrogen and can be used regularly, namely:
    • Citrus fruit
    • Green leafy vegetables
    • Mushrooms
    • Apples
    • Cruciferous vegetables (kale, cabbage, broccoli)
    • Beans
    • Sesame seeds
    • Flax seeds
    • Berries
    • Oats
  • Reach your ideal goal weight (BMI 18.5-22.5) via following a Nutritarian eating style and avoiding overeating.
  • Excess body fat causes excess estrogen and excess testosterone production, which can cause abnormal menstruation in some women.

Stress

Physical and emotional stress can cause menstrual cycles to become irregular, heavy or more painful. The following items may help:

  • Get enough quality sleep
  • Do not become underweight or overweight
  • Get regular physical exercise
  • Meditate or find other stress-reducing strategies

Supplements

  • Extra iron may be needed based on blood testing with your doctor in cases where heavy bleeding persists.
  • A diet high in folate from greens, while avoiding folic acid from supplements, is important. Supplement conservatively with adequate vitamin D, B12, iodine, and zinc.
  • A mixed mushroom extract can be helpful to reduce excess estrogen stimulation.
  • Adequate EPA-DHA levels should be assured with supplementation if needed.
 

Ask The Doctor


The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)

Q.

I follow a Nutritarian diet and a very intense workout regimen, and thus have a pretty low, but healthy body fat. I haven’t had my period for about three months. Should I alter my exercise routine or be concerned?

A.

Having less frequent periods is not a health risk, and may actually be a health asset. Having only a few periods a year is sufficient. Many women who follow a Nutritarian diet typically skip many months, especially when they are exercising a lot on top of their excellent diet. Likely your lower body fat and degree of physical fitness interferes with the hormonal surges necessary for periods. That does not mean you are not ovulating or can’t get pregnant. I don’t think you should be concerned about this, as long as you have a few periods each year. If you are not having any periods we could address that issue in the future by reducing exercise a bit and gaining a bit more body weight.