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First, don’t freak out. Though the average menstrual cycle is 28 days, anything from 24 to 38 days is considered normal. There’s also a wide range of normal periods, from 2-day flows to week-long visits.
Sometimes it’s possible to get your periods back on track with a few lifestyle tweaks. Home remedies aren’t a substitute for checking in with your doctor, but these science based solutions are a good place to start.
Sometimes period problems indicate a bigger health issue like having obesity or an underlying problem that’s causing obesity.
In a 2017 study, researchers found that women with overweight are more likely to have irregular periods, heavy bleeding, and fertility problems.
Too much body fat impacts your body’s hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian system (the HPA axis), which controls your reproductive hormones. Specifically, excess fat causes leptin resistance, interrupting the hormone that triggers your period.
Since healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes, it’s impossible to recommend a perfect weight for regulating your periods.
To lose weight healthily, cut back on white sugar and refined flours. Swapping out empty carbs for protein and fiber will keep you feeling full for longer, helping you lose excess weight without a hangry “hangover.”
Exercise and health go together like avocado and toast. Cardiovascular movements — the kinds that get your heart racing — are great for improving PMS, cramps, and heavy bleeding.
In a small clinical trial, women who did 30 minutes of cardio three times per week for 8 weeks reported less intense period pain. What’s not to love?
There are a few reasons why it works to run, dance, or cycle your way to less painful periods:
- Exercise releases endorphins (hello, runner’s high!).
- Improving blood flow relieves cramps.
- Getting your blood pumping during your period literally speeds up the flow of blood from your uterus (periods, be gone!).
Focus on flexing your abs and other muscles near your pelvis to get the most bang for your buck when you’re exercising to relieve period cramps.
Ginger is good for more than stir-fry and treating hangovers. It’s been a home remedy for period problems for generations, and now there are studies to support its potency. Here are the deets:
- In one small study of 92 women with super heavy flows, daily ginger doses seemed to reduce the amount of blood loss.
- Another clinical trial in 2014 showed ginger supplements can help with mood swings and general PMS woes.
- In a study from 2015, women who downed between 750 and 2000 milligrams of ginger powder during their period had fewer cramps than usual.
The jury’s still out on how much ginger can help improve irregular periods. But we do know this spicy little number can relieve pain and PMS symptoms when Aunt Flo finally arrives.
Ginger comes in many forms: pills, powder, tea, or fresh ginger root. Get creative in the kitchen and add it to smoothies, sprinkle it into your tea, or mix it into your next veggie stir-fry.
Like ginger, cinnamon packs a healthy punch. Research is still in the works, but one promising study suggested that taking daily cinnamon supplements (1.5 grams) can regulate your monthly cycle. It even worked for women with PCOS, which is notorious for messing with menstruation.
According to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine, you can take between 1.5 and 4 grams of dried cinnamon bark daily. The study seemed to suggest 2.5 grams per day is the perfect dose to regulate periods without added side effects.
If you haven’t already seen 10 lists touting the benefits of apple cider vinegar, are you even on Pinterest?
ACV achieved superfood and Google trend status in 2017 for good reason. It can lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and it can help with weight loss. So it’s no surprise ACV can also help get your monthly flow running on time.
In a 2013 study, women with PCOS were able to reboot their ovulation by drinking just over half an ounce (15 ml) of ACV each day.
Save the shots for the bar and drink your ACV diluted. A 10-to-1 (water to ACV) ratio is best.
Pineapple is full of an enzyme called bromelain, which might have the power to soften your uterus and regulate your periods. It’s not scientifically proven yet, but bromelain has a reputation for soothing period pain too.
To maximize the health benefits of fresh pineapple, eat at least 1 cup per day (it adds up to one of your five recommended daily servings of fruits).
Food is the best medicine, but it’s also normal if you have a few vitamin and mineral gaps. With chewables and gummies in all the colors of the rainbow, is there any excuse not to take your daily vitamins?
Here are two vitamins known for getting an irregular cycle back on track.
That good (vitamin) D
A 2015 study showed a clear relationship between low levels of vitamin D and irregular periods. The gist? The D depletion seems to make your cycles sporadic, not necessarily super long or short.
Regardless of the exact ways vitamin D can regulate your flow, it’s also great for other health boosts:
You can get more vitamin D by spending daily time in the sun, eating more fatty fish (a serving of canned tuna roughly equals half your daily recommended vitamin D), and consuming mushrooms on the regular.
Though more research is needed to recommend B vitamins for irregular periods, studies prove it definitely helps with PMS.
A small 2011 clinical study revealed that your risk of PMS goes down when you eat foods high in B12. Five years later, another study showed that women who regularly take calcium and B6 vitamins have fewer PMS symptoms.
Try eating organ meats to get that B12! A serving of liver — lamb, beef, or veal — is between 900 percent and 1,500 percent of your recommended daily intake. Not a fan of organ meat? Nosh on some clams or sardines instead.
Did you know a daily yoga flow can be good for your monthly flow?
While hot yoga and spin classes are all the rage, a 2013 study showed one of the best flows for Aunt Flo is yogi meditation, aka yoga nidra. Yoga nidra is low-key sleep disguised as exercise, and your reproductive hormones are here for it.
Making it a regular practice can help with the following.
- hormone imbalance
- irregular periods
To get results, practice yoga nidra 35 to 40 minutes per day, 5 days a week. It might take a few months to see significant change.
Or more accurately, a bunch of tiny needles. If you’ve never tried acupuncture, it might seem a little scary. But this pain therapy has been going strong for 3,000 years.
Do your research and find a quality, certified acupuncturist in your area.
Your doctor might suggest hormonal birth control to regularize your wonky periods. Birth control works by keeping hormone levels steady. Some birth control methods regulate your flow, while others stop your periods altogether.
There are dozens of options, from pills to patches to implants. Your doctor can help you choose the best birth control method for you
Smoking can increase your risk of birth control-related blood clots, so let your doctor know how often you light up!
When stress keeps you up at night, you don’t get enough sleep. And when you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones fall out of sync and your PMS gets worse.
- Sleep mode. Turn off your phone or put it into sleep mode to avoid untimely interruptions.
- Try to hit the sack and rise and shine around the same times every day.
- Just say no to Netflix in bed.
- Avoid caffeine after lunch.
- Aim to keep your regular workouts in the morning or afternoon (before 2 p.m. is best).
Some of you didn’t grow up with grandma pushing remedies and tinctures for all that ails you… and it shows.
The thing is, though supplements have been used to alleviate cramps and regulate periods for generations, they aren’t regulated by the FDA. So do your due diligence by chatting up your doctor and researching the best sources.
This little flowering beauty is said to relieve menopause symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Some health professionals recommend it for helping with low levels of estrogen, LH, and FHS. Between 20 and 40 milligrams per day is best.
Never mind the old-fashioned name. This Mediterranean plant — which is also known as Vitex agnus-castus and chaste tree — has a reputation for making all those PMS symptoms ease up.
Chasteberry doses vary wildly depending on how the product is prepared. Be sure to read the product label.
Mugwort goes way, way back. In ancient texts, it’s suggested as an herb to kickstart missed or late periods. That means it’s potent, so don’t use it if there’s any chance you have a bun in the oven.
Most mugwort fans dose up through tea or supplements, so the optimal dose isn’t a precise science.
It’s always best to talk to your doctor before treating your irregular periods with herbal remedies. Some herbs and meds don’t play nice with each other.
Irregular periods are nothing to freak out about. In fact, between 5 and 35 percent of menstruating women have irregular months once in a while.
These are the times you should loop your doctor into the conversation:
- Your period has gone MIA for 3 months.
- Your red tide’s rocking and rolling more than once every 21 days or less than once every 35.
- Your regular flow has gotten super heavy or painful.
- “That time of the month” lasts more than a week each time.
If you’re experiencing any of those symptoms, your healthcare provider might suggest a new medication or other treatment. Here are some of the possible causes:
- puberty or menopause
- thyroid problems
- eating disorder
Heading to the doctor to discuss your irregular flow? You’ll probably chat about some of these treatment options.
When you’re missing periods left and right…
- birth control pills
- cyclic progestin
- meds for underlying health issues
When you have heavy or super long periods…
- anti-inflammatory meds
- medications with progestin or tranexamic acid
It’s also possible that surgical treatments from polyp removal to a hysterectomy will be on the table.
It’s possible to get your periods back on track with a few home remedies or lifestyle changes. Remember that some remedies are more science-backed than others.
Some of the best treatments are signs of a healthy lifestyle. You know the drill: eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about your irregular cycles.