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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit on April 18, 2022

How To Deal With Your Irregular Periods

Not sure what's causing your irregular periods? Our experts weigh in on internal and external factors that may be to blame and provide management tips for getting your cycle back on track.

Irregular periods min scaled

Irregular periods are normal when you first start your cycle. However, for adult women, they can be unwelcome, problematic, and even an indication of an underlying health condition.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician Lee Shin Wei from Eu Yan Sang clinic says, “Irregular period could be shorter than 21 days or as long as 35 days. Anything between 21 and 35 days is considered a normal cycle. When you first start having periods, it can also take a while before your periods develop a regular pattern.” 

In this article, we’ll take a look at what’s causing your irregular periods and how to remedy them.

What Causes Irregular Periods?

For many women, stress is a contributing factor to irregular periods.

There may be more than one root cause of your period irregularity. Whether you notice it or not, several causes of prolonged or abnormal periods include: 

  • Stress and your lifestyle habits: Gaining or losing weight, traveling, and sickness can impact your menstruation cycle. Research shows that high-stress levels were associated with only menstrual irregularities but not with duration, amount of flow, or period pain
  • Hormone imbalance: Hormone imbalances are common in girls who have just begun menstruating and women approaching menopause. Changes in the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone can change the pattern of your period. Moreover, stress and an unhealthy diet are closely related to hormonal imbalance. 
  • Underlying diseases: For example, thyroid diseases can cause a hormone imbalance that affects your periods.
  • Birth control and medications: Contraceptive methods like birth control pills usually contain a combination of estrogen and progestin, while some only contain progestin. Meanwhile, around 70% of women who consume anticoagulants or blood thinners experience heavy menstrual bleeding. 

Irregular Periods, According To TCM

The human body is a harmonious system with multiple organs and fluids working together. A disturbance within this system can impair bodily functions, including your menstrual cycle. In TCM, irregular periods are prompted by: 

1. Blood deficiency  

Due to insufficient energy intake, a large amount of fat and protein is broken down, resulting in a significant lack of estrogen. “Insufficient nutrients will cause low blood production, and the lack of blood to nourish the womb results in a longer time taken for the blood to accumulate hence a longer period cycle,” physician Lee explains. 

2. Blood stasis  

Consuming too much cold food or drinks, such as cold drinks and ice cream, would constrict the blood vessels in the pelvic cavity. This decreases blood flow to nourish the uterus. 

“This leads to delayed menstruation and even amenorrhea. Cold food will also slow down blood flow and cause blood coagulation, which will result in a lighter period flow. In severe cases, there will be no period in that cycle,” physician Lee says.

3. Qi stagnation  

Long-term mental depression, stress, anger, or suffering from major mental stimulation and psychological trauma can lead to menstrual disorders. Unstable emotions will cause qi stagnation where blood cannot flow freely. Thus, there will be distending pain in the hypochondriac and breast area and period cramps during menstruation. 

4. Qi deficiency 

Staying up late is a bad habit that can easily lead to endocrine disorders, causing irregular menstruation. Irregular sleep patterns will cause qi deficiency with symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness. Furthermore, it will result in decreased energy to transport blood efficiently to the whole body and endometrium. This will cause a delay in the next period as there is not enough blood in the endometrium. 

Home Remedies That Help With Irregular Periods

Depending on the causes, several natural ways may help you regulate your period. 

Eat a healthy diet

Eating balanced meals can help if you are prone to irregular periods.

According to the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, nutrition pattern is one of the important factors predicting menstrual distress, which varies among different cultures and countries.

“Women should have a balanced diet, avoid excessive weight loss, and consume adequate iron to promote more blood production in the body,” physician Lee advises.

Exercise regularly

Exercise is good for overall health because it promotes blood circulation in the body. In addition, regular exercise boosts serotonin production, which can help to stabilize the overall mood. Yoga practice is found to be helpful in patients with hormone imbalances. Other low-impact exercises for you to try are Qigong and Taichi

Acupuncture

Physician Lee says that acupuncture can promote blood flow and overall body energy to restore balance in the body. It can also release stress and hence regulate period blood flow. 

In a case report on Acupuncture in Medicine, a 17-year-old girl with a history of dysfunctional uterine bleeding was treated with Chinese acupuncture. After four weeks, she recovered fully and her period remained normal for at least six months after the treatment was discontinued.

Herbal remedies

You can also consider herbal remedies for irregular periods. Ginger and cinnamon have been known to help ease the condition.

In a 2014 study of the effects of ginger on heavy menstrual bleeding published in Phytotherapy Research, the amount of menstrual blood loss drastically declined during the three intervention cycles in the ginger-receiving group.

Aside from ginger, cinnamon may lessen menstrual bleeding, help relieve cramps, and reduce nausea. 

Physician Lee suggests drinking herbal tea containing goji berry, ginseng, rosebuds, and red dates to help calm the mind and reduce any menstrual pain. “Bazhen soup could also be consumed every week after your period to nourish the blood in your body if you have cold limbs on normal days.” 

Additionally, TCM has a classic remedy for regulating periods. Youth Bak Foong capsules work to nourish the body and improve weak body constitution. 

Do not be shy if you have irregular periods. Your family, friends, and healthcare professionals can give you helpful suggestions. Make it a priority to get enough rest and practice relaxation techniques. If the condition persists, consult a medical professional for a diagnosis.

References

  1. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. 2015. To evaluate the effect of perceived stress on menstrual function.  
  2. Journal of Innovations in Pharmaceuticals and Biological Sciences. 2015. Hormonal imbalance and its causes in young females. 
  3. Hematology. 2020. Management of heavy menstrual bleeding on anticoagulation.
  4. Endotext. 2018. The Normal Menstrual Cycle and the Control of Ovulation.  
  5. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research. 2015. The relationship between food frequency and menstrual distress in high school females.  
  6. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2013. Impact of Yoga Nidra on menstrual abnormalities in females of reproductive age. 
  7. Open Access. 2018. Acupuncture treatment for dysfunctional uterine bleeding in an adolescent.   
  8. Phytotherapy Research. 2014. Effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on heavy menstrual bleeding: a placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. 

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