The Essence of Women: Cycles That Don't Cycle


Many women can't rely on their period arriving at the same time each month.  In fact, many women don't even realize that it should!  Sometimes this can be simply the result of stress or trauma.  My sister experienced an earthquake while living temporarily in California and didn't have a period for six months.  Your period is suppressed during breastfeeding to prevent another pregnancy from occurring.  But when this becomes the norm instead of the exception, your fertility can be compromised.  This is one of the strongest signals that you may have trouble conceiving down the road. The normal menstrual cycle is 28 days, so your cycle should be close to that and the same every month.  Let's look at the reasons why your cycle may not be cycling at all!

Amenorrhea, the missing of a period, is usually caused by a condition of less than optimal health. There are a variety of things that can cause this normal process to cease or to become irregular. A diet extremely low in fat contains insufficient quantities of cholesterol to produce the hormones needed to activate the menstrual cycle. Many women may follow low-fat or no fat diets for long periods of time which may make their bodies look great, but it removes the very building blocks for your reproductive hormones.

This can also be the case if your body weight is too low, and your body fat percentage is too low.  Remember that your body's most basic instinct is to preserve itself.  This means that pregnancy is secondary.  If pregnancy would put too much stress on the body systems, then the body will reduce or eliminate the chance that you could become pregnant.

Other issues to consider are glandular insufficiency (pituitary, thyroid, adrenal), chronic sustained stress and low blood quality.  These factors can strongly affect your hormonal triggers for your cycle, as well as controlling the various ingredients of your blood that would permit you to bleed.   One of the most important hormone groupings to consider is FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Luteinizing Hormone).  These are key to the regular progression of the female cycle through each month, leading to menstruation. When FSH is low, we suggest 2-4 Tribulus per day, which also regulates DHEA, increases anabolic activity and intensifies protein synethesis. By increasing FSH, it increases levels of estradiol. If the follicle does not respond to FSH, we try adding 2-3 Ovatrophin PMG per day to make the follicle produce estrogen. To help the Corpus Luteum make progesterone, we give 6-9 Ovex per day.

Another unrecognized factor is testosterone.  Many women don't even realize that they have testosterone, but it does exist and plays an important role in follicular health. Excess levels of testosterone can decrease the amount of bound hormones in women, while higher levels of testosterone generally indicate cyst formation in the follicles.

The real core of the glandular system in working with menstrual regularity is the hypothalamus.  If you have experienced menstrual symptoms that are dominated by emotions, then the hypothalamus is a key component.  We start with Chaste Tree and Blue Cohosh to correct any hypothalamic malfunction, St. John's Wort for a history of depression (this actually works on neural inflammation), and treating the effects of stress and low energy with Withania and Panax Ginseng. We add Dong Quai where amenorrhea has followed periods of excessive bleeding with anemia.

Often, women may not have lost their period, but instead have a habit of excessive bleeding, longer periods or longer time between periods.  This can often be the case in women who have fibroids or endometriosis.   First and foremost here is maintaining normal iron levels, which are lost in excess with the heavy bleeding. Fe-Max Iron Tonic and Ferrofood are the key products for this, providing everything women need to maintain healthy levels of iron and red blood cells.

Reducing the excessive bleeding is important to help restore a normal cycle, aside from the fibroids and endometriosis (which by the way are estrogen dominant and thyroid related issues).  Chaste Tree combined with  antihemorrhagic herbs such as Tienchi ginseng and Horsetail, and uterine formulas such as Capsella or Shepherd's Purse can really help mennorhagia.

One of the most common irregularities in menstruation is dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation. There are two types: spasmodic dysmenorrhea in which the pain is directly related to the onset of menstruation, based in the uterus and congestive dysmenorrhea which occurs before or late in menstruation and can arise in other organs as well as the uterus. Chaste Tree can only be used for congestive dysmenorrhea. Estrogen function must be supported with Wild Yam over the long term. For short-term treatment, we use uterine spasmolytics which decrease prostaglandin production such as Dong Quai, Cramp Bark and Ginger if there is also excessive bleeding. Black Cohosh is an anti-inflammatory which is useful and Corydalis helps as an analgesic.

Women do not need to suffer with their period, nor get ambushed on the T when their period comes a week early or two weeks late.  Bringing the cycle back to balance is important not just for fertility, but for the entire body's balance.