Do you suffer from heavy or spotty bleeding?
What are the symptoms of irregular periods?
Because irregular periods are often a result of estrogen dominance, symptoms can be similar to what’s seen in that condition (see Estrogen Dominance). The woman often has unpredictable menstrual cycles and endures heavy vaginal bleeding and clots. Infertility is common as well as symptoms of PMS.
What are the causes of irregular periods?
Irregular periods are almost always a result of estrogen dominance and hormonal imbalance. Estrogen builds the endometrial lining and, if it impairs ovulation, no progesterone is made by the corpus luteum of the ovaries and the lining of the uterus never matures and gets much thicker than it’s supposed to be. At some point, usually just prior to the onset of bleeding the estrogen level drops to a point where bleeding occurs. The bleeding is often extremely heavy and sometimes contains blood clots. A lot of times the endometrial tissue does not get sloughed off each month so the following month it becomes much thicker and the heavy bleeding and clotting stems from this mechanism. The cycle length can be as short as approximately 21 days or, if there is continued estrogen dominance, the cycle length can be longer than 28 days.
Estrogen dominance often comes from xenohormones, which are hormones a woman takes in from outside the body. Xenohormones come from hormone-tainted meats and from heavily processed carbohydrates and trans-fats. In addition, environmental toxins like dioxin can mimic estrogen in the body, leading to estrogen dominance and irregular periods. Vigorous exercise can also cause irregular cycles or stop the cycle completely.
Other common causes include perimenopause, PCOS, and stress. The adrenal glands are responsible for responding to our bodies' stressors. When the body undergoes stress, the adrenal glands increase cortisol production in response to the stress. The abnormal cortisol imbalance leads to unnatural fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone during your menstrual cycle.
Testing and balancing the adrenal glands is essential for regaining the hormonal balance necessary for regular periods. Women suffer from chronic stress that overburdens the adrenals, which can lead to adrenal dysfunction or adrenal fatigue.
Traditional Medical Approach:
The birth control pill is one option that is commonly utilized for irregular periods especially in young teens. Although, birth control pills this may decrease the symptoms, it does not get to the underlying root of the problem. Once you are taken off the pill, the symptoms usually will return because the hormones are even further out of balance, since the amount of estrogen has been increased. There are many side effects to this method..
Functional Medicine Approach:
The functional medicine approach includes proper testing such as a eFHP or ePMP and correcting the hormonal imbalance. It is very important to get a baseline on your hormone levels. It’s possible to naturally restore your hormonal balance and it is beneficial to regulate your menstrual cycle. The beauty of doing an expanded female hormone panel (eFHP) on cycling women is because we are able to collect 11 eleven saliva samples over a period of one the month over your cycle. This will then be graphed out so we can see exactly when the hormones are out of sync or in excess in relationship to one another. This is much better than taking a blood test of your hormones on one particular day out of the month. The females saliva panel is much more detailed and will also assess the feedback loops that help regulate your hormones. A blood test cannot give you this breadth of information.