PCOS and Irregular Periods:
Symptoms and Ways to Regulate
According to Everyday Health, up to 14% of women have irregular periods. Every woman's body is different and her menstrual cycle is no exception. The average woman gets her period every 24-38 days.
An irregular period is when your menstrual cycle starts changing more suddenly than what's normal for your body. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) might experience this sensation more often. PCOS and irregular periods tend to go hand in hand.
This guide will discuss how PCOS affects a woman's menstrual cycle and the different ways you can regulate your period.
How Does PCOS Affect the Menstrual Cycle?
Have you been wondering, "does PCOS cause irregular periods?" PCOS is a condition that affects a woman's hormones. Since PCOS is tied to a woman's reproductive hormones, it can have an effect on her menstrual cycle. Each month, an egg matures and gets released by a woman's ovaries. This doesn't always happen when a woman has PCOS.
PCOS also results in women having a higher level of different androgens in their bodies, like testosterone. It can also cause an increased level of luteinizing hormone. This hormone works to support pregnancy and ovulation.
Higher levels of androgens interfere with a woman's menstrual cycle. It can also prevent a woman from ovulating. Because of this hormonal imbalance, the egg won't get released or mature.
Instead, the egg, or follicle, will stay inside of a woman's ovaries. Without normal ovulation, a woman's uterus doesn't get the stimulation it requires to shed its lining. As a result, the woman will have an irregular or skipped period.
This effect can produce different symptoms in women. Some individuals who suffer from PCOS can have regular periods. Other women can have periods every 40 days or no period at all.
Symptoms of PCOS With Irregular Periods
There are a few symptoms of PCOS with irregular periods that you should be aware of. PCOS can affect your period in a variety of ways.
Some people who have PCOS skip their periods for three or more cycles in a row. According to the Mayo Clinic, this condition is called amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is one of the primary causes of fertility problems in women who have PCOS.
If a woman doesn't have a period, then a mature egg isn't being released from her ovaries. Without a mature egg, there's nothing for sperm to fertilize. As a result, the woman will struggle to conceive.
Some women's menstrual cycles operate like clockwork. It's normal to have a period that starts a few days early or late. However, when your menstrual cycle is always sporadic, it might indicate that you have PCOS.
One side effect of PCOS is heavier bleeding during the menstrual cycle. This condition is called menorrhagia. Menorrhagia is caused by low amounts of progesterone and is associated with PCOS.
If you have heavy bleeding that lasts for longer than a week, you might have menorrhagia. The average woman loses around 40ml of blood during her cycle. Women who have menorrhagia can lose around 80 ml or more of blood.
Periods with heavy bleeding also typically come with extreme cramping. Some women can find relief by taking over-the-counter pain medications or by using a heating pad. For others, the cramps can be debilitating.
Extreme cramping is not only a symptom of PCOS but also of endometriosis. If you're experiencing severe pelvic pain between and during your period, you need to find out the cause.
Ways to Help Regulate Periods With PCOS
There are many different ways to regulate periods with PCOS. Let's discuss some of the easiest ways to get your cycle back on track.
Establish an Exercise Routine
Exercise has a variety of benefits for your overall health. Exercising is one of the main recommendations for women with PCOS. Working out will also help you regulate your cycle as well.
Exercising can help women control their weight. Finding what type of exercise you like to do is important. Keeping your body moving will help you avoid PCOS from taking over your life.
Be at a Healthy Weight
Fluctuations in your weight can have an effect on your menstrual cycle. Many women who have PCOS struggle with being overweight or obese. Losing weight might help you regulate your cycle.
Individuals who have periods and are overweight have a higher chance of having irregular periods. They might also experience severe pain and heavy bleeding. That's because of the impact the body's fat cells have on insulin and hormones.
On the flip side, being underweight or losing a large amount of weight quickly can result in irregular periods. It's important to be at a moderate weight that's healthy for your body type.
Work with your doctor to determine what your target weight should be. They'll help you figure out healthy ways to get to your ideal body weight.
Consume Anti-Inflammatory Foods
While there isn't any hard scientific evidence to back up that certain foods help you regulate your cycle, these foods and spices provide you with a variety of healthy benefits. Some of these items that you can add to your kitchen pantry include:
It's always worth adding foods into your diet that give you a good amount of micro and macro-nutrients.
You also want to ensure that you're consuming enough fatty foods, but the good kind of fat. The most common sources of healthy fat include:
- Vegetable oils
- Flax seeds
According to the Cleveland Clinic, around 20-35% of your calories each day should come from fat. 5-10% of your daily calories should be from polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
Get Enough Sleep
Troubles with your menstrual cycle can result in sleeping problems. Lack of sleep can worsen PCOS symptoms and your irregular period.
Do what you can to combat sleep issues. Some steps you can take to improve your sleep habits include:
- Don't nap
- Go to sleep and get up around the same time every day
- Don't watch TV or read in bed
- Exercise regularly before 2 PM
- Don't consume caffeine after 12 PM
Reduce Your Stress Levels
The body's adrenal glands secrete progesterone and cortisol when it's stressed out. The progesterone release might reduce anxiety or tension, but it could also throw off your period.
Explore ways to reduce chronic stress. You can try yoga, deep breathing, or meditation. Practicing various calming techniques might get your cycle back on track.
Oral Birth Control
Many women with either PCOS, irregular periods, or both are often prescribed hormonal birth control. There are different types but they all help keep your hormone levels even.
Oral birth control pills could also provide symptoms from PCOS and regulate your cycle. Your doctor can work with you to determine what birth control pill would be the best option for your body. You might experience some side effects, like headaches or nausea.
There are numerous vitamins and nutrients out there that can help you regulate your menstrual cycle. You should speak with your doctor before you start to incorporate any new supplements into your daily routine.
Inositol occurs naturally in a person's body. You can also find it in different foods, like beans, citrus fruits, and meat.
Inositol helps your body utilize the hormone insulin. It also affects various hormones, such as FSH. Inositol is also important for a woman's ovaries to function properly.
Taking an inositol supplement might improve your ovulation. It could also increase your chances of conceiving if you're attempting to get pregnant.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil contains an omega-6 fatty acid that works to reduce inflammation. It helps with various health issues, including:
- PMS symptoms
- Breast pain
- Hot flashes
Evening primrose oil can also help you regulate your cycle.
Black cohosh is often used to provide relief for menopause symptoms. It can also help regulate a woman's menstrual cycle. It's thought to raise the levels of LH, FSH, and estrogen.
Chasteberry is a common herbal supplement that also helps reduce PMS symptoms. Other names for it include chaste tree and Vitex agnus-castus.
Chasteberry might raise your body's progesterone levels and lower your prolactin. With those two hormones in balance, your cycle might get more regulated.
The Knowell supplement contains many ingredients that can help your irregular cycle get back on track. It can also help decrease PCOS symptoms.
Some of the ingredients included in our supplement are:
- Black pepper
- Vitamin B6
Getting the Right Support for PCOS and Irregular Periods
Women don't have to suffer from PCOS and irregular periods. There are certain steps that you can take to improve your overall and reproductive health.