Have you recently begun supporting your reproductive wellness and fertility naturally? Has your cycle shifted and made you worry? Are you now wondering about your menstrual cycle health, or if you’re doing the right thing? It’s important for you to know that when starting herbs, nutritional supplements and natural therapies to help with any major fertility issue and help the body heal, what you want to see is a cycle shift.
Common Causes of Menstrual Cycle Shifts
When beginning natural therapies, shifts in the cycle are the body’s way of showing you that it’s listening and trying! What the shifts look like will differ from woman to woman depending on her fertility health status/issues, although is often only temporary. Menstrual cycle shifts often look like the length of the cycle becoming shorter or longer, or the timing of ovulation shifting to a few days earlier or later than you might be used to. Below are several very common causes of menstrual cycle shifts women see when first beginning their natural fertility programs.
- Starting new herbs that support hormone balance – Some women experience cycle shifts when they first begin using herbs and nutritional supplements that nourish and support the healthy function of the endocrine system. A shift is a sign that what you’re taking is working. We see these shifts work themselves out within 1-3 cycles of being on a natural fertility program. So, stick with it!
- Fertility Cleansing – Liver cleansing and proper detoxification of excess hormones often results in a temporary cycle shift. One way some have shared that they know the cleanse is working is that they see a shift in their menstrual cycle. Cycle shifts from Fertility Cleansing often work themselves out during the cycle after completing the cleanse.
- The body attempting to achieve hormone balance – Often women with fertility health issues think they have a “normal” cycle prior to beginning natural therapies, when in reality, to be healthy, the cycle needs to shift a bit to a “new normal”. Cycles should shift as the hormones work to balance out. This is perfectly normal!
- Dietary changes – It is rare, but when making rapid or radical dietary changes, in particular, those that contribute to rapid weight loss, the cycle can shift. It is important to ensure you’re eating equal proportions of protein to carbohydrates in each meal and eating quality healthy fats, while also getting enough B vitamins daily.
- Changes in exercise routines – Too little or too much exercise can impact reproductive wellness and cycle regularity. Being sedentary limits circulation and is often associated with being overweight which can lead to increased estrogen levels, disrupting hormonal balance and increasing insulin levels. Extreme exercise, often equated with being too thin, can cause hormonal disruption, problems with ovulation, reduced estrogen stores and reduced progesterone production, making the uterus inhospitable to an embryo wanting to implant.
- Periods of extreme stress – Chronic stress boosts levels of stress hormones, one of which is cortisol, which inhibits the body’s main sex hormones GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone), in turn suppressing ovulation and sexual desire/libido.
Stress tasks the adrenal glands as well, without proper function of which we cannot have balanced hormones in order to have a regular menstrual cycle. Any shift in levels of stress can alter menstrual cycle timing.
- Weight loss or gain – Women who experience rapid weight loss or who are underweight may experience anovulation, which can cause cycle shifts or menstruation to stop. Gaining too much weight can cause women to have elevated estrogen, insulin, and androgen (male hormones) levels, interfering with ovulation and menstrual cycle timing. Be sure you work to have a normal body mass index for your height and weight and around 22% body fat for optimal fertility.
- Disrupted Sleep – Some women who wake often at night or who work night shifts may have irregular menstrual cycles because frequent waking disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm and hormone production. Disrupted sleep also impacts adrenal gland health, basal body temperature (making it too low) and can suppress ovulation, all of which can be causes for cycle shifts.
- Travel – While often fun, travel can be temporarily stressful, often resulting in decreased immunity and sleep (disrupted circadian rhythms). Your diet may temporarily change while traveling too, all of which as you have read up until now can impact menstrual cycle timing.
So what do you do about a cycle shift?
Stick with your program! Continue to work to support hormonal balance where your body needs it. The body will adjust and shift as it needs to; remember you want to see that your program is working, so shifts are okay. It is important to know that the menstrual cycle may shift over a few cycles as the body relearns hormonal balance. If you are concerned about your cycle shift, reach out to us. Our herbalists on staff can try to help you pinpoint what may be causing the shift to happen.