Are Hormonal Imbalances Delaying your Period? Here are Five Natural Ways to Induce it
Sometimes I have long cycles. Like, really long. I’m talking the upwards of *75+ days long. They suck. The build-up of hormones leaves me in a perpetual state of waxing and waning PMS symptoms. It makes me feel helpless, especially when all I want to do is alleviate my discomfort. I have PCOS, so long cycles are a bit of a “norm” for me, as well as many others with this condition. But even if you don’t have a hormonal imbalance, you too may find yourself on the sorry end of a long cycle every once in a while. This can happen because you missed ovulating that month, you’re under a lot of stress, maybe you just got off hormonal birth control, or maybe you’re training for a marathon. There are a ton of **reasons why you may be experiencing a delayed period, but the good news is, you don’t have to suffer. Here are five natural ways to get your hormones, and hopefully your period, flowing again.
I know, I know. It seems like the answer to everything is exercise. Well, that’s because it really is a miracle drug. Exercising regularly (30 minutes 3-5x a week) releases endorphins, increases insulin sensitivity, reduces stress and can help balance your hormones. Try higher impact exercises like running, jogging or aerobics. The higher the impact the more it will rattle your uterus which can encourage your uterine wall to release. High impact exercises not your thing? Then try focusing on activities that contract your abdominal muscles like yoga or pilates.
When we are stressed for extended periods of time, our bodies create hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. When these levels remain high, they can hinder our body’s ability to regulate the production of estrogen and progesterone, the two dominant hormones in the menstrual cycle. If your estrogen is too low, for example, your body can’t ovulate, and if your body doesn’t ovulate, your progesterone levels never spike and thus cannot trigger your period. It’s all relative. So, if you find that you are under more stress lately, try bringing those levels down a bit by doing things that help you relax: take a bath, meditate, read a good book, or spend time with friends, really anything you enjoy.
Get Your Vitamin C
We all know that Vitamin C is good for boosting our immunity, but did you know that it can also boost your menstrual cycle? As it turns out, Vitamin C can help reduce the amount of progesterone production in the uterus. Progesterone is the hormone that is dominant just before you menstruate and if its levels don’t drop, you can't get your period. So, by enjoying a little extra Vitamin C, you can help nudge the process along. A few ways to get more Vitamin C: parsley tea, cranberry juice, citrus fruits, guava, spinach, kale, broccoli, strawberries, kiwi…however you get it, make sure you eat the fruits and veggies raw, cooking them will only lessen their potency.
Warm Things Up
If you’ve ever injured your wrist, ankle, or any other joints in your body, you no doubt know it is highly recommended to put heat on it (after ice, of course). This is because heat promotes blood flow and flowing blood brings healing cells to the injury. You can take that same idea and translate it into jump-starting your period. Warm up your uterus externally by putting a heating pad on your lower abdomen or use a warming compress (like the ones you can buy at the pharmacy). Applying external heat to your lower abdomen is not only relaxing but is a gentle way to help increase the blood flow to the area, triggering menstruation.
Bio-Identical Progesterone Cream
Tried everything above but to no avail? There is a supplemental option that can help create a progesterone spike: bio-identical progesterone cream. Derived from Wild Yam Root, this type of cream mimics progesterone in the body. By applying it to your skin for two weeks, your progesterone levels will naturally increase. After two weeks, you stop using the cream and your progesterone levels will drop, this will bring on your period. There are a lot of over-the-counter options so it is important to know what you are looking for. Always buy from a trusted source like a health food store or your local co-op. Do not use a synthetic progesterone cream, this can cause long-term disruption to your hormonal ecosystem, stick to organic, bio-identical options and always read the ingredients list. If it doesn’t contain Wild Yam Root, find something else.
If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of using this type of product or can’t find an organic option, you can always try to increase your progesterone levels through your diet:
B6-rich foods like walnuts, poultry, and chickpeas
Vitamin E-rich foods like almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds
Vitamin C-rich foods like bell peppers, leafy greens, berries, and citrus fruits
L-arginine-rich foods which include foods high protein like pork, beef, poultry, salmon, halibut, and trout
OK, this works for several reasons, but I must warn you, only implement this option if you are in a monogamous relationship and are using a method of birth control that protects you from pregnancy. Sex can help induce your period for four reasons. First, during sex, blood flow increases in your entire pelvic region, including your uterus. Improved blood flow can help to improve, well, your flow. Second, during the act of sex, your cervix may get jostled, this movement can act like a friendly little “wake-up” tap to your uterus and encourage it to shed its lining. Third, orgasm creates a vacuum like sensation in the uterus that can help draw the menstrual blood down and encourage the uterine lining to shed. Lastly, and this is why it’s very, very important to make sure you are using a reliable form of birth control and have been tested for STIs: sperm contains prostaglandins which soften the cervix and help it dilate. When the cervix becomes dilated, it sends a message to the uterus that it is time to shed.
If none of these options work for you and it has been more than three months since your last period, please see a health care provider, it may be time to consider pharmaceutical options.
*If you consistently experience long cycles, visit your healthcare provider as soon as you can. Undiagnosed hormonal problems can lead to long-term health issues like obesity, infertility, mood disorders, and many more.
**If you missed a period due to pregnancy, these techniques will not induce an abortion and I highly recommended you see your healthcare provider right away.