PCOS and Periods: Five Ways to Cope with an Irregular Cycle
One of the more frustrating symptoms of PCOS to deal with is an irregular menstrual cycle. Usually caused by a hormonal imbalance, it can leave women with unpredictable periods which occur anywhere between 21 and 35 days or more apart.
As well as being difficult to plan for, irregular periods can make it harder to conceive if you’re trying to have a baby. Although ovulation might still be happening, the day may vary every month. There are a few things you can do to help regulate your menstrual cycle, from learning how to deal with stress effectively to making changes to your diet.
Use a Tracking App
The first step to regulating periods when you suffer from polycystic ovaries is to start tracking them. You do this by making a note of when they start, how long they last and how heavy your flow is. There are plenty of great apps that are free to download which allow you to easily log your menstrual cycle, and any other symptoms you might be experiencing.
As well as allowing you to log your menstrual dates, these apps also provide useful predictions about when your most fertile days are, when your ovaries are going to release an egg and when your next period is due to arrive.
Stress is one of the biggest causes of irregular periods, which is why it’s important to try to keep it to a minimum. When you’re feeling particularly anxious, the body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. This in turn affects your oestrogen and progesterone levels, which can leave you with a very irregular cycle.
Trying to reduce stress is a great idea, and can be done in lots of ways:
- Taking up yoga or meditation
- Making sure you’re getting enough sleep - you should be aiming for eight hours
- Making sure you’ve got a great support network available
- Taking warm baths with lavender-based products
- Making time for yourself - read a book or magazine, watch a movie or take a nap
Change your Diet
As well as making lifestyle changes, adjustments to your eating habits can help with an irregular menstrual cycle. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables is important, but adding in or increasing the following could possibly help to regulate your periods:
- Ginger - the vitamin C and magnesium in ginger help the uterus to contract, and start your period
- Cinnamon - this warming spice has a beneficial effect on blood flow in the body, and can help to regulate insulin levels
- Pineapple - this juicy fruit contains an enzyme called bromelain, which is thought to reduce inflammation. If your irregular cycle is caused by inflammation, pineapple could possibly help.
Take your Vitamins
Topping up your healthy diet with vitamins and supplements is another great way to regulate your menstrual cycle if you suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome. If you’re planning on trying for a baby or suffer from any other health conditions, however, it’s important to consult your GP before you start taking anything.
Vitamin D has been shown to help with irregular periods, and also has the added benefit of reducing depression and anxiety. Vitamin B is known for being beneficial to female health. It can help to regulate periods, reduce pre-menstrual symptoms and is often prescribed to women trying to conceive.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Your weight plays a big role in how regular your periods are. Being underweight, overweight or losing weight rapidly can contribute towards an irregular cycle because of how it affects hormone levels. Maintaining a healthy weight is incredibly important if you’re trying to regulate your cycle, especially if you’re also trying to conceive.
You can do this by:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Making sure you eat a good breakfast every day
- Taking enough gentle exercise every week
- Limiting your carb intake
- Getting enough sleep