There is no one test or symptom that tells a Cyster they have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It’s a complicated hormonal problem that has many side effects, including excess hair growth, acne, weight gain, infertility, irregular periods, and more. However, when you look at all your symptoms together, you and your doctor can usually come to a definitive conclusion about a potential PCOS diagnosis.
One of the earliest and clearest signs of PCOS are those irregular menstrual periods I discussed earlier. PCOS menstrual cycles aren’t just off schedule and frequently skipped, but they can also be painful and heavy. Doctors believe this heavy bleeding comes from imbalances of testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen—the primary sex organs in the body. Usually progesterone is too low, and estrogen and testosterone are both too high.
This imbalance of hormones increases your blood pressure and insulin resistance while thickening the uterine wall. This is thought to spur heavy bleeding, which is also known as menorrhagia. Women usually bleed 2-3 TB of blood during a cycle, but Cysters can bleed almost twice that and experience clotting, too. If you’re a woman with PCOS, this bleeding can potentially even last seven days or longer.
If gone untreated, too much bleeding can cause anemia, which can contribute to PCOS fatigue. Plus, that much bleeding can prevent you from living life to the fullest, while you’re constantly trying to manage that heavy flow. So, today, I’m sharing some tips on how to regulate your periods to reduce menstrual bleeding. Here are my tips:
How To Stop PCOS Period Bleeding
Discuss with your doctor getting tests done.
Before you go too far in the process, it’s a good idea to get some tests done to see what your underlying issues are. Though an imbalance of sex hormones could definitely be your problem, you could also have an iron deficiency, infection, or other complication that may or may not be associated with PCOS, so it’s best to get the facts.
Talk to your doctor about getting a basic physical exam, a blood test, a pap test, an endometrial biopsy, and an ultrasound. This should give you the full scope of the problem. If it doesn’t target the cause, though, your doctor may refer you on to a specialist to get a sonohysterography and/or hysteroscopy.
Consider a gluten- and dairy-free anti-inflammatory diet.
If you do determine that your PCOS hormonal imbalances are causing your heavy bleeding, consider a new diet. A gluten- and dairy-free anti-inflammatory diet calibrated to your carb tolerance can help you lose weight, improve insulin resistance, and lower blood sugar. All of this may help regulate your hormones and alleviate heavy periods.
Eat more fiber.
Our liver is a helpful organ for breaking down excess hormones. To give our liver the boost it needs to ditch extra estrogen and testosterone, try eating more fiber. Research shows that fiber supports our liver in breaking down large hormone concentrations, including estrogen! Some high-fiber foods you can add to your diet include pears, apples, bananas, carrots, beans, chia seeds, and almonds.
Add cinnamon to your diet, too.
According to a 2014 study, cinnamon can be beneficial for a number of menstrual problems, including heavy bleeding. So, sprinkle some on your fruit or oatmeal for a tasty treat that may help you with your irregular periods!
Do the right exercises for your body.
Since it seems higher body weight can contribute to heavy periods, weight loss is also an effective strategy for kicking heavy bleeding to the curb. If you’ve already made strides in your diet, add exercise too!
However, a PCOS body often struggles with high cortisol levels (stress hormones) that can worsen hormonal problems, so sticking to cardio and slow-weighted workouts will probably be better than heart-pounding exercises that increase your cortisol levels further. You can find my recommended PCOS exercises HERE.
Take helpful vitamins and supplements.
Vitamins and supplements can give our bodies the right support by filling nutritional gaps. Even with a great diet, it’s still hard to get everything you need. When you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals, your body can better regulate itself and improve symptoms. Some of the best vitamins and supplements to consider for heavy periods are:
Reduce caffeine and alcohol.
Alcohol and caffeine should both be limited, but for different reasons. Caffeine encourages your adrenal system to produce more cortisol to keep you alert. Cysters’ often already run with higher levels of cortisol, remember, so caffeine can make it worse. This imbalance of hormones can elevate insulin resistance. Both excess hormones and insulin resistance can contribute to heavy period bleeding.
Conversely, alcohol reduces the functioning of your liver and worsens insulin resistance. You need to keep your blood sugars low and your liver working well to keep the proper hormone levels. So, try to reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake, especially near your period.
I’ve said it quite a few times throughout this post, but high stress levels are no good for you. Stress can give you high blood pressure and sugar while throwing your hormones totally off kilter. But, I know, when you’re dealing with the effects of PCOS, staying at peace is hard. So, try to practice self-care wherever you can. Whether you take a hot bath, journal, or do some yoga, prioritize making yourself feel good every day to limit your period bleeding and ease other PCOS symptoms too.
Get better sleep.
Poor sleeping habits can contribute to stress, high insulin levels, anxiety, depression, stress, and irregular menstrual cycles. Though getting real rest may be difficult for you, try your best to get enough sleep. To get better sleep, consider giving yourself time to wind down, taking a melatonin supplement, sticking to a schedule, and getting out in the sun. For more ways to improve your sleep with PCOS, check out this post.
Where Can I Get More PCOS Period Help?
If you are looking for more resources, I’ve got them! Check out these episodes of our podcast A Cyster and Her Mister where we talk with the experts about period regulation:
- Reversing PCOS Irregular Periods with Dr. Nirvana
- Fix Your Period with Author Nicole Jardim!
- 10 Tips to Regulate Your Period with PCOS | Real Advice from a Fellow Cyster
- Period Repair Manual with Author Dr. Lara Briden
There are natural ways to improve your heavy menstrual bleeding.
If you’re dealing with heavy periods, I hope this list will help you find relief. In fact, I hope as you start eating right, exercising often, and sleeping well, you get relief from other PCOS side effects too. It’s totally possible! I did it, and you can too. Join The Cysterhood to get support from our community through your journey, and don’t forget to check back for regular new blog posts and podcast episodes. I’m here to help you heal!