For Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) cysters, the menstrual cycle can be fraught with unpredictability and stress.
Irregular periods are one of the most common symptoms that women with PCOS experience, caused by hormone imbalances in the body. This includes excess testosterone – a male hormone that’s also produced in the ovaries.
Although some PCOS cysters have regular periods every 28 days, others have inconsistent cycles. And some don’t have periods at all.
While menstrual irregularity is a normal symptom of PCOS, it needs to be treated – especially if you’re experiencing less than four menstrual cycles a year. Not having a regular period can lead to fertility issues and may increase the risk of endometrial cancer.
Thankfully, there are some practical and effective ways to regulate your periods if you have PCOS. There are a host of lifestyle tips, dietary changes and natural remedies that can help to get a fluctuating period back on track.
Please note that these tips do not substitute official medical advice or prescribed treatment from your doctor. You should always consult your doctor before changing your diet or trying a natural remedy in case of side effects, particularly if you are pregnant or nursing, have allergies or intolerances, or if you have any other known medical condition.
How To Regulate Periods With PCOS
Dietary advice for PCOS cysters
Although there is no known cure for PCOS, there’s numerous evidence to suggest that symptoms can be improved by dietary and lifestyle changes, e.g. healthy eating and regular exercise. PCOS women can live symptom free.
Women with PCOS typically have higher than normal insulin levels: the hormone that helps the cells in the body turn sugar (glucose) into energy. This can cause insulin resistance, as the body makes excess insulin but can’t use it effectively, which often results in weight gain. Being overweight can cause menstrual irregularities. Also, high insulin levels can trigger your ovaries to produce more testosterone, also leading to menstrual irregularities and PCOS symptoms.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates, such as sugary and starchy foods, makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight and manage insulin resistance. Oftentimes, a diet that contains gluten and dairy has shown to affect women with PCOS and their ability to lose weight. There are a host of foods you can add to your PCOS diet to aid healthy weight loss. And, consequently, menstrual regularity.
Foods to add to a PCOS diet
- High fiber foods, such as broccoli, green and red peppers, and pumpkin
- Lean protein, like fish, tofu and chicken
- Anti-inflammatory foods, like kale, spinach and walnuts
Foods to limit if you have PCOS
- Seed oils
- Gluten (try it for 30 days to see how you feel!)
- Dairy (try it for 30 days to see how you feel!)
There’s also evidence to suggest that certain ingredients can improve irregular periods and provide a host of health benefits, such as:
According to a study conducted in 2014, cinnamon may be beneficial for a variety of menstrual issues. The research found that cinnamon helped to regulate menstrual cycles and was effective when used by certain women with PCOS. There’s also evidence to suggest that it reduces period pain and bleeding. Sprinkle some on your fruit or oatmeal!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Research from 2013 found that drinking 15ml of apple cider vinegar every day could restore ovulatory menstruation in women managing their PCOS. More research is required to verify these results, as the study only involved 7 participants. Apple cider vinegar has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity after a meal, and since insulin is closely related to your period regularity, this could be helpful.
Apple cider vinegar has a bitter taste, which can make it difficult to taste and swallow. If you struggle with the flavor, try diluting it with water or drizzling it on your salad.
Removing Gluten & Dairy
Gluten and dairy are inflammatory endocrine disruptors, and women with PCOS struggle with inflammation already. Cutting out gluten and dairy can give you an edge in fighting PCOS. Many women have seen incredible results after going gluten and dairy free because reducing inflammation is key for improving insulin sensitivity and ultimately all your PCOS symptoms. Try it for 30 days to see how you feel.
There are some lifestyle changes which can alleviate the symptoms of PCOS and help to restore a regular menstrual cycle. Two of the most significant changes include exercise and daily movement. Combined with a reduced intake of refined carbs, this may reduce insulin resistance in PCOS women.
What’s more, regular exercise and a balanced diet can result in losing weight, which correlates with improved ovulation in women with PCOS.
Take supplements such as Inositol, Folate, and Vitamin D
Lastly, Vitamin D supplements (15% OFF prc code 292660) offer a host of health benefits for PCOS women. Around 67-85% of women with PCOS struggle with Vitamin D deficiency, which can result in moodiness, low energy, and general feelings of sluggishness. Women with PCOS need to top up on their Vitamin D intake as low levels of the nutrient are linked to insulin resistance, inflammation, depression and irregular menstruation.
A serious Vitamin D deficiency can even stop menstruation altogether. Taking a daily Vitamin D supplement may help to regulate your menstrual cycle and improve your overall health.
Speak to your doctor about hormonal birth control
Hormonal birth control can be an effective way to regulate your periods and potentially reduce small follicles remaining in your ovaries. Talk to your doctor to find out if this option is right for you. Just make sure to keep an open mind and remember that everyone’s body is different.
Ah, stress, our arch-nemesis. Not only does it wreak havoc on our emotions, but it can also mess with our menstrual cycles. When it comes to PCOS, stress can lead to those pesky irregular periods, leaving us scratching our heads and wondering when (or if!) our next visit from Aunt Flo will be.
Try incorporating stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, or even just taking some time to unwind and do something you love. Your menstrual cycle will thank you for it!
Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use
Okay, time for some tough love. Smoking and excessive alcohol use? Yeah, not good for anyone, especially those of us with PCOS. These habits can mess with our hormone levels, making it even harder for our ovaries to mature or release an egg. Plus, they can contribute to inflammation in our bodies, which is like throwing gasoline on the PCOS fire (not recommended!).
Get enough sleep
We all know the struggle of counting sheep when we can’t fall asleep at night. But did you know that sleep (or the lack thereof) can play a role in the irregular or absent periods that come with PCOS? It’s true! When we don’t get enough shut-eye, our hormone levels can go haywire, throwing our menstrual cycles off balance.
Establish a bedtime routine, create a cozy sleep environment, and put those screens away (blue light, you’re not invited!). Your well-rested body will thank you with more regular and oh-so-satisfying periods!
Acupuncture has anti-inflammatory properties that can potentially help regulate your menstrual cycle. Plus, it can be a great way to relax and unwind, which is always a good thing when dealing with the frustrating symptoms of PCOS.
The Key Takeaways
There are a variety of ways to help get your menstrual cycle back on track if you have PCOS. Lifestyle and dietary changes can be an effective way to regulate your periods if you’re struggling with PCOS related weight gain. If your symptoms persist, speak with your doctor, who’ll be able to identify the root cause and advise treatment options.
While the above tips can be helpful, finding a combination of natural methods that work for you is key to regulating your menstrual cycle. Increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods, such as leafy greens and berries, can also help. And don’t forget to give yourself plenty of grace and patience as you work to find the best way to manage your PCOS symptoms and regulate your menstrual cycle. You got this girl!
For more information on recommendations for a PCOS diet, check out our podcast here!