Does Your Period Affect Your Weight?

It is not clear whether the menstrual period can directly affect the scale of the weight of your body. But it seems that the menstrual cycle in a woman is associated with her weight. In fact, changes of weight (either weight gain or weight loss) are one of risk factors behind some menstrual disorders.

The balance of your hormones is the key

Your period can be affected if you have an imbalance of your hormones, especially your progesterone and oestrogen [1]. It also can be influenced if you take any change on the method of your contraception. How about with weight?

Changes in weight can affect the balance of hormones. Other common lifestyle factors that can affect a woman’s menstruation are strenuous exercise and uncontrolled stress.

If the major cause behind your irregular periods is lifestyle factors, this can be reversed. Once you addressed the problem of the cause, your period should return normal.

However, you should also concern about the cause of your weight changes. If the problem is triggered by a certain health condition such as thyroid disorder, medical intervention is needed.

How likely are you to have menstrual disorders?

Weight is not the single factor that can increase the risk of developing disorders associated with menstrual cycle. For instance, age also can play a key role.

In fact, women who are in the phase of their pre-menopause (a phase of where they are approaching menopause) can begin to notice irregular cycles or may skip their menstrual cycles. Sometime, they may also experience heavy bleeding.

Young women who begin their menstruation at the age of 11 years-old or younger are relatively at greater risk to have longer menstrual cycle, or longer menstruation. Sometime an absence menstruation (medically called amenorrhea) in adolescents also can occur in the time of when the ovulation cycles is progressing to become regular.

image_illustration82Other risk factors can include [2]:

  1. Your own pregnancy history. A condition called dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) is more likely to occur in those who never given birth, and it is less likely to occur in those who delivered their first baby at young age. And a condition called menorrhagia (heavy bleeding) tends to affect those with a higher number of pregnancies.
  2. Stress. The body’s reaction during stressful period can inhibit the production of hormone called luteinizing hormone. This may cause an amenorrhea that is typically only temporary.
  3. How long your menstrual cycles also can affect the chance of how painful your menstruation.
  4. Some lifestyle factors such as smoking also can have an effect.

Overweight in women with PCOS is a bad thing

Not all cases of irregular periods or menstrual disorders are serious. But if the problem is triggered by serious health condition, PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is one of common causes. It is a kind of hormonal disorder that typically affects women of reproductive age.

Menstrual abnormality is one of common symptoms of PCOS – even it is the most common characteristic of this hormonal disorder. Women with PCOS often experience menstrual interval longer than normal (about 36 days or longer – even some can have the menstruation only once in 4 months).

PCOS is not common, it only affects about 5-10 % of women in their childbearing age. Both insulin sensitivity and healthy weight are very crucial for women with PCOS.

Unfortunately, many women and teens with PCOS are overweight and obese [3]. For this reason, losing weight in those with overweight is very important. Some studies are continuously learning the effectiveness of losing weight to treat PCOS.

The exact cause of PCOS is still not known. But there are some theories and one of them is about the excess insulin (a condition that is closely associated with overweight or obesity).

When the body has insulin resistance, the body cannot effectively use insulin released by pancreas for glucose metabolism. This can make the pancreas work harder and cause excess insulin released in the bloodstream.

The excess insulin can be potential to trigger the ovaries to make and release more androgen. And this can affect the menstrual periods.

Like in diabetes (the common health condition associated with insulin resistance), controlling the weight is very crucial in treating PCOS. Weight loss (especially for those who are not being at their healthy weight) can decrease the release insulin in the blood stream and reduce androgen levels [4].

There is no specific formula of diet that works best for all women with PCOS. But if you have PCOS and being overweight, losing weight can be done by reducing your total calories intake per day and boost your calories output through moderate exercise.

Restoring a healthy weight is one of keys to treat absent periods

While PCOS is often associated with overweight, absent periods or called amenorrhea is commonly associated with underweight.

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