Dieting, Exercise & Your Period.

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

Growing up when it came to my period I hated everything about it. I got extremely bad cramps, would miss school almost every month when it came, I would cry not from the PMS but just the pain of it and I really couldn’t stand having to do any physical activity. For the longest I remember using my period as an excuse to not have to do PE in high school until I got that one teacher who just had to hit me with the, physical activity is good for your period and will help relieve your cramps. Later down the line I found out she was right but during my moment of complete torture I didn’t want to hear any of that shit.

Even now, as a grown ass woman, when it comes to getting a period, which has been extremely rare, I still have to force myself to workout and when I do it has to be light activity; no squatting, kicking or any thing that has to deal with my moving my lower body. The thought of it alone is gross.

Now, you may be wondering why I rarely get a period? This is because I’m on birth control, which has pretty much eliminated my period for 2 years now. But one thing I did begin to notice was when I began to change my eating habits, like reducing my carb intake to 30 or less most of the week and started exercising almost everyday, it started to come back (either for a few days or twice in a month). For other people, they get the opposite effects of dieting & exercise, which is losing their periods. This may sound like a dream to some but it actually isn’t the healthiest and can let you know something is off with your lifestyle.

So Is it Normal To Lose Your Period Due To Exercise?

It happens BUT it is far from normal. Women who exercise excessively, especially athletes tend to experience a syndrome called Amenorrhea (when women stop having a monthly period. When the body begins to enter into starvation it is common to experience amenorrhea. Its not due to only the extreme amount of exercise but also the lack of nutritional intake. The body will begin to shut down organ systems that are essential for survival including the reproductive system. Exercise induced amenorrhea also has long-term effects on the body, which includes an estrogen deficiency.  When the body produces too little estrogen risks include infertility, atrophy of the vagina and breast, osteoporosis (which can lead to fractures of the spine, hip, and other areas) and women can even experience heart attacks later in life.

Can Amenorrhea Be Treated?

If you been diagnosed or think you are experiencing amenorrhea, do not panic. You can treat this by increasing your calorie intake, which will stop your body from thinking it is starving. For those women who don’t want to change their eating habits there are birth control pills/patches that can provide you with the estrogen needed but this might not be the best fix, as birth control has different effects for different women.

NOW, For Those Who Hate Working Out When Menstruating...

Push through it because there are some benefits that could actually help you hate your period a little less and that includes:

  • Improving mood swings and PMS – The endorphins released during and after an exercise triggers a positive feeling in the body.
  • Reduce cramping – Exercising also reduces endorphins that also help reduce pain. This is also linked to reducing stress and anxiety, which is linked to menstrual pain as well.
  • Regulate an Irregular Period – Pairing your activity with a healthy diet can put your period back to a regular schedule. Try adding pineapples, papaya and parsley to what you eat.

Another thing to consider is adding magnesium-rich foods such as peanut butter, cashews, almonds, brown rice, sunflower seeds and beans to your diet. These can help with the fatigue women feel during their periods due to losing magnesium.


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