Is there anything I can do to make my period more predictable?
January 22, 2013 11:48 AM   Subscribe

I have always had a very irregular menstrual cycle. I am interested in learning about any natural ways to make it more regular.

I go very long (35-55 days) between periods and skip some months. She. I do have one, it is normal and fine. I have spoken about it with my doctor and he says I am fine, I am just one of those people who is not like clockwork and that is that. it though? Is there anything I can do naturally (diet, alternative medicine and so on) to get things working a little more smoothly? I would like to be able to predict things a little better for possible baby planning.
posted by JoannaC to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Birth control pill.
Typically when I am off the pill I go about 40ish days between periods. I used to skip. But once I am on the pill, it comes really regularly.
posted by xtine at 11:51 AM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a great resource for learning how to predict your body's cycle. For baby planning, it's the go-to book.
posted by ambrosia at 11:51 AM on January 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

I've heard of the herb vitex/chasteberry being used for this, but I have not researched either its safety or efficacy. I think there's also some evidence about exposure to light at particulat times regulating the menstrual cycle (google "Dewan effect") but I'm not sure whether it holds water.

Anecdotally--I'm not sure how old you are but my periods used to be closer to that but have settled down more as I got into my late 20s.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:02 PM on January 22, 2013

My period tends to be more regular when I am exercising regularly. But I really can't say whether it correlates as cause and effect, or if it's just coincidence.
posted by DoubleLune at 12:08 PM on January 22, 2013

DEFINITELY start charting your cycles now (see Taking Charge of Your Fertility) so you can know what's going on. Until you know when (or if) you're ovulating in your cycle, you can't know how to make that happen more regularly.
posted by KathrynT at 12:11 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Age is certainly a factor, as cycles tend to get more regular as you get out of your teens.

Intense physical training can lead to irregular periods, but it has to be quite intense - running for a couple of hours daily, that sort of thing. I would expect that to have been picked up by your doctor though.
posted by Coobeastie at 12:13 PM on January 22, 2013

I have the same issue, usually with less than 20 days inbetween periods. I've been using the app P Tracker which needs a few months to a half a year of data to predict my period accurately. It's not a quick fix, but I recommend using it to become more familiar with your cycle.

Also, the message boards, while sometimes juvenile, can actually have some helpful Q&A's to look through about acne, bloating, insomnia, and several other symptoms that plague many of us.
posted by DisreputableDog at 12:16 PM on January 22, 2013

Response by poster: Fwiw I am 35. Vegetarian, but I take a multi as per doctor's orders (I have always been low iron) and in pretty good health. Just had bloodwork done and they said there is nothing wrong hormonally or anything. I just have a weird cycle and always have.
posted by JoannaC at 12:18 PM on January 22, 2013

You may want to make a bulk purchase of ovulation test strips if getting pregnant is your ultimate goal. They can be found pretty cheaply via Amazon.
posted by trunk muffins at 12:25 PM on January 22, 2013

I used to go a couple of months without a period from the time I first got my period. Then I was put on the pill. When I stopped taking it, I went back to irregular periods. The only thing that put me on the 30 day cycle was when I stopped breastfeeding. Once that happened, I went to a normal cycle. Are you able to map out your cycle to see even if it goes long, if its regular? I totally agree with the ovulation kit thing. Also some women can tell their body is ovulating by their secretions or lower back aches.
posted by lasamana at 12:40 PM on January 22, 2013

My friend is an ER doc. She resorted to acupuncture after nothing worked (she basically didn't get one for 5 years), including different hbc. It's weird but she said she got it and has been regular since.

I was also reading about maca being helpful to hormonal balance, but I only learned about it this morning and have never tried it and don't know enough about it (other than Mandy Ingber (yoga instructor to the stars who did the rap on Teen Witch when she was younger) tweeted a picture of a yummy looking smoothie with vitamineral green powder and maca in it).
posted by discopolo at 12:41 PM on January 22, 2013

Seconding (thirding) Taking Charge of Your Fertility, perhaps combined with the OvuView period-tracking app (which is far more detailed than P Tracker).
posted by tapir-whorf at 12:42 PM on January 22, 2013

You cold check if your thyroid hormone levels (TSH, t4, t3) and PCOS-related hormone levels were included in the tests. Long, irregular cycles can be caused by these being off.
posted by meijusa at 12:58 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had irregular (long, sometimes anovulatory) cycles after having a miscarriage early last year and after a few months of weekly acupuncture they became regular and ovulatory. And now I'm pregnant. :)

I definitely also recommend charting and temping. You can, and probably should, read Taking Charge of Your Fertility, but there are also free tutorials on Fertility Friend. Charting and temping will help you determine if you are ovulating or not, tell you how long your luteal phase is, and give you other information that will help you when you're ready to conceive. It will also help you know early on if there are any problems that a doctor can help you with, like a short luteal phase.
posted by apricot at 1:49 PM on January 22, 2013

Even if you have no plans to start TTC, start charting now (I def nth Taking Charge of Your Fertility - it should be required reading for every teenage girl), and insist that your dr. do the various blood tests to check your hormone levels. We were TTC for several months, and then had to start bloodwork... I'll spare the details but it would have saved us a lot of time if we'd done the bloodwork to begin with. Oh, and start taking your additional folic acid.

Otherwise, keep your iron intake up, your good fats up, lots of water, limit caffeine and sugar... All of those things can affect your cycle.
posted by vignettist at 2:17 PM on January 22, 2013

I have always been low iron

Being low on iron (which I tend to as well) is the biggest thing that's made me miss periods or have super-light periods in the past. I wasn't complaining at the time :) But I did notice that when my iron was low, light-to-no period, and when it was normal again (after iron supplements and adding meat back into my diet -- so normal range, not on the low side of normal), it was back to my normal heavy bleeding.

Do you take just a multi-vit, or do you take iron supplements as well? Is your iron normal with what you take, or still on the low side?
posted by DoubleLune at 2:26 PM on January 22, 2013

Seconding vitex/chasteberry and n-thing charting/temping. Vitex is supposed to help with progesterone production, and progesterone is needed to prepare the endometrium for the nidation of the egg, so it might help with fertility problems. It's also useful against PMS, which is the reason why I've been taking it for 1,5 years now. My cycle was a little longish (30-35 days) before, now it's like clockwork and 28 days long.
posted by akrasia at 3:37 PM on January 22, 2013

Disclaimer -- I have PCOS

My understanding is that anything over 35 days is . . . not quite right. Like some people are every 28 days and some people are 26-35 days, and some people are every 35 days . . . but being over 35 days regularly is an indicator that something is off.

Also, PCOS typically results in a pregnancy prior to 25 and then fertility problems trying to have child #2+ -- so fertility is fine, and then somewhere after 25 things go wonky. It's unknown if PCOS causes insulin resistance or vice versa, but it is known that getting one's blood sugar into their personal 'good range' will result in regular periods again. For me, I went to the doc after a 365+ day cycle and was started on the lowest dose of Metformin (a dose considered not effective for PCOS) and got my period 15 days later, and have been regular at 35 days every since.

A lot of people with PCOS have made progress when they've reduced their carb intake -- I'm not sure how easy/hard that would be for a vegetarian, but it's an easy enough 'fix' to throw into the mix, if you have any reason to think PCOS could possibly be relevant.
posted by MeiraV at 4:12 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I once tried to use the Billings Method for birth control. Not only this but I tuned both of my sisters into it. Well, there are three cousins who were all born in the same year.

However, it was very useful for tuning me in to when I was ovulating - there are various symptoms that I hadn't noticed until I saw them tabulated - mucous symptom, ovary pain etc. This is without going as far as taking a temperature.

In summary: if you're irregular you can still have a fair idea of when your period is going to arrive. Just don't try to use this knowledge for BC if you have any libido at all.

On preview: I see I got the question wrong, I though it was about anticipating when your period is coming. Yes, you should get checked out for PCOS of whatever. But if you find out nothing is malfunctioning, you can still get some awareness of when your period is due. Start out by charting: I discovered I had a long cycle (35 days) where previously I had thought I was irregular.
posted by glasseyes at 5:43 PM on January 22, 2013

I found that the best thing that worked for me was exercising regularly (as already stated above), and uh ... "sex"-ercizing regularly. Not necessarily with a partner, but definitely making use of the equipment one way or another. Unless you are of a persuasion or mindset that precludes those activities, of course.
posted by Temeraria at 9:35 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing "Taking Charge of Your Fertility". It doesn't regulate your cycles, but you learn to see the signs so you know when they're coming. (FWIW, I used the knowledge gained from it to get pregnant on the very first try.)

Another tip, from the weird-but-true department: a friend had troubles with her cycle, and the doctor's recommendation was to hang around (female) horses. Apparently it has something to do with their pheromones.

On preview: seconding having regular sex. It made my reproductive system run like clockwork!
posted by gakiko at 10:32 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

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