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Ask a Nutritionist: How Do I Get My Period Back?
12.09.15

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In this month’s edition of Ask a Nutritionist, registered dietician McKel Hil of Nutrition Stripped, answers the question: how do I get my period back?

Though there are a number of reasons a woman might lose her period (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, thyroid issues, weight loss or gain and changes in birth control and other medications), the two most prominent reasons many of my clients lose their periods are nutritional malnourishment (often as a result of being underweight and not consuming enough nutrient and energy-dense foods) and severe stress. Here is what I recommend:

1. Nutrition is key. 

Taking birth control increases your body’s chance of having low levels of important nutrients like folic acid, vitamins B2, B6, B12, vitamin C and E and the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc. If you’re on birth control now or have recently stopped, be mindful of these nutrients in your food. While taking vitamin supplements may help give you a boost to replenish what you’re lacking, eating enough protein, healthy fats, fiber, dark leafy green vegetables, carbohydrates and drinking enough water is key for optimal hormone function.

5 foods to incorporate on a daily basis:

a) Healthy fats like coconut oil and milk, avocado, seeds, nut butters and grass-fed butter are crucial for keeping hormones healthy. Do not fear the fat.
b) Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower support your body in detoxing excess estrogen. Beets are great too.
c) Proteins like wild caught fish, chicken, eggs and organic, fermented tofu.
d) Brazil nuts — consume 1 a day for a boost of selenium, which helps boosts immune systems and the aids the detoxification of hormones.
e) Organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible. The fewer pesticides, the fewer toxins your body will be forced to clear.
f) Supplements that show promise: vitamin C, chasteberry for increasing progesterone, adaptogenic herbs like holy basil and medicinal mushrooms, turmeric, DIM, omega-3 fatty acid  and zinc.

2. Stress management (i.e. letting that shit go).

Stress robs our bodies of energy and completely throws our hormones out of whack. So many of my clients regain their periods by addressing this step alone through daily meditation, talking about their stress and seeking help. It’s a very important piece of the puzzle.

3. Eat enough — plain and simple.

Restrictive diets and excessive exercising set you up for poor metabolic tendencies, unattainable weight management and possible mental/emotional stress fractures, but it also sets you up for hormonal disaster. Eat enough calories to refuel, sustain and nourish your body; I recommend women not to dip below 2000 calories a day in order to see hormonal status improvement. This is subject to change depending on where you’re currently at with your health. For example, if you’re underweight you’d be consuming more than 2000 calories a day. Make an appointment with a nutritionist or doctor if you’re unsure as to how many calories you should be consuming. Every body is different.

4. Sleep.

Sleep is crucial to general health, but it’s especially crucial when it comes to managing stress and hormone-balance. Sleep is like a janitor that clears our minds on a nightly basis. Opt for at least 7 hours a night; 9 is ideal.

5. Move your body, but go easy on the cardio.

Strength training is an important part of maintaining hormone levels. Doing too much cardio further depletes our body of energy and can cause stress in the body — something we’re trying to manage when getting our period back. Instead, try a body weight resistance class like barre3, The Class, or Leandra’s ridiculous exercise-at-your-desk routine? For cardio, try short bursts of sprints and keep it minimal. Also! Take a walk outside. Every single day. Nature is just as healing as gentle walking.

6. Be patient.

These things take time. If you have no idea where to begin with these steps for your situation, I recommend working one-on-one with a health practitioner or dietitian who can help coach you along the way with diet, supplements and your exercise routine. Do also talk to your gynecologist.

I’m sure that before you know it, you’ll be complaining about cramps again.

Follow McKel Hill on Instagram and Twitter; feature photograph by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • Ajiviji

    Hey thanks for such a nice writeup! I really appreciate your help. But I think, you can improve over some points. Anyways nice going! Also checkout our article : SP Flash Tool

  • Chris from Denmark

    The only thing that worked for me after 5 years of more or less no periods: eating after the KISS concept!

    • Leandra Medine

      whats thatttttttttttttt

  • Avery

    Yes, poor nutrition due to severe Crohn’s disease and recent pulling all 28 teeth with temporary dentures in until implants so diet is very poor. Yes weight loss due to the above. Had right ovary removed 2004 and endometrial ablation in 2011 so periods ended. Left ovary has cyst but decision was to keep and not force medical induced menopause. Question: at 49 how/when will I know that I am in true menopause? Haven’t been to GYN yet to ask. Thank you.

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  • Sara

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  • Ally

    Agree. The BEST thing to do is eat your veggies! If you hate salads, puree your veggies and make a soup out of it! I didn’t get my period for a YEAR! YES, a freakin’ year. I changed the way I ate and I got my period back-and its been regular ever since. Incorporate Flax Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower seeds to your salads.

    • carolyn

      Did you do sed cycling? It’s been 9 months since I had a period and am about to start seed cycling tomorrow.

      • Ally

        I only had flax seeds in the morning with my breakfast. But, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds I incorporated into my lunch and dinner.

        Its also very…and I mean, VERY important to have protein in every meal with your veggies. Also, there are some fruits to stay away from (the really, really sweet ones) Green apples, Lemon, all the berries, banana are great for regulating hormones!

        Last but not least, don’t stress. Stressing out about it will create stress hormones.

        Let me know how it goes!

  • cryptdang

    Er, you can also be perfectly healthy and not get your period every month. There is no medical need to have a monthly period. Those seem like important points that should have been included.

  • I do all of this but sometimes I don’t have my period for over 5 months…

  • I know this article was likely written up because of Leandra’s experiences, but is this a common problem that women have? In the fashion world? From restrictive diets? Is this speaking to a greater sociological problem? Of course excepting irregular periods due to serious longterm illnesses.

    The only time I had an irregular period was when I was moderately athletic in high school (this has since longggg changed).

  • Kriso

    Eating gives you a period. So you need to choose between size 0 and a period. Period.

  • Well, I went to my doctor because of my lack of period and he said “eat”.

  • Kate

    I didn’t get my period for two years when I was super stressed + too skinny for my body type (I was around 115 as a 5’6 woman.) Working on my disordered eating + some weight gain worked for me. Health > being skinny. Just sayin.

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