4 Habits That Can Disrupt Your Menstrual Cycle Timing
For many women, their menstrual comes like clockwork. This can be helpful as you prepare for those “special” days each month. However, there are times in which the timing of your period may surprise you, as it can occasionally show up early or arrive later than usual. While there may not always be a clear-cut explanation as to why your cycle seems out of sync, there are some specific lifestyle habits that are known to disrupt your monthly flow.
Traveling Across Time Zones
A day trip or even a long car ride won’t necessarily affect your menstrual cycle timing. However, if you fly in a plane and travel through time zones, your body’s circadian rhythm can be affected. Your circadian rhythm is responsible for your sleep/wake cycles as well as the release of hormones like cortisol and melatonin. If this gets out of whack, your menstrual cycle rhythm can also be impacted. Studies have shown that flight attendants commonly experience menstrual irregularities. If you frequently fly between continents and can’t seem to find a consistent day of the month to plan for your period, this could be the culprit.
High, Acute Stress
Many of us live under some level of chronic stress. When stress levels are excessive or you experience a sudden traumatic event, such as a death, divorce or job loss, your menstrual cycle can temporarily get off track. The stress hormone cortisol helps your body cope with the extra pressure, but this hormone can also cause lower estrogen and LH levels, which are key hormones in determining when your period starts.
Studies have shown that drinking more than 10 drinks per week could influence a woman’s reproductive hormones, causing disruption in menstrual flow and even threats to fertility. Excessive alcohol consumption puts the entire body at risk.
Extreme Dieting and Exercising
A woman’s body fat is closely linked to hormone production. When there is a rapid gain or loss in weight, the menstrual cycle is almost always affected in some way. Menstrual irregularity or absence is frequently associated with marathon runners, as the rigorous exercise combined with low body fat puts stress on the body. In response, the body tells the brain to stop producing reproductive hormones. When the body is not nourished or rested enough to support a pregnancy, the natural response is often shutting down the menstrual cycle. This can be in the form of limited ovulation or missed/absent/longer periods.
When to See Your Gynecologist
If you experience disturbances in your menstrual cycle for 1-2 months, this isn’t typically cause for alarm. However, if you suffer from consistent irregularity and can’t find a culprit, it is time to see your doctor. At North Point OB/GYN, we can help you get your monthly cycle back to a predictable and healthy pattern, which is not only easier to deal with but also important if you plan to become pregnant in the near future.