Your period may be a pain, but is it toxic? A number of “health” bloggers are making outrageous claims about your monthly cycle – saying that heavy periods are caused by too many toxins in the body. By following a certain diet, they say, you can achieve light, unnoticeable, and worry-free periods (or no periods at all).
At The Woman’s Health Pavilion on Long Island, our OBGYNs and gynecologists know this isn’t true. We understand the real causes of menorrhagia, which is the medical term for heavy periods, and it’s not what you ate for dinner. The misinformation these bloggers are spreading is careless at best, and dangerous at worst. Here’s why:
- Your period is not made of toxins.
Bloggers claim that your period is made of toxins that come from the foods you eat: The more toxic your diet, the heavier your period will be. Thus, they emphasize a super-clean, “toxic free” diet to control menstruation.This is completely inaccurate. First, your monthly flow is made up of tissue and blood from the lining of your uterus – not toxins. Additionally, toxic substances are not processed through the uterus (this is the role of the liver and kidneys). And if it were true that toxins accumulate in the uterine lining, healthy pregnancy and childbirth would be impossible, since an embryo can’t survive in toxic conditions. This is a clear misunderstanding of basic biology.
- It’s totally normal to have your period.
Some of the blogs claim that menstruation is “toxicity leaving your body” – as if having your period is an unnatural, unhealthy process that comes from eating too many candy bars. Nothing could be further from the truth: Having your period is normal, healthy, and completely natural. In fact, a normal monthly cycle is actually a marker of good health.
- Your diet can’t fix your flow.
Despite the bloggers’ claims, eating super-clean won’t make heavy periods any lighter. Heavy periods are simply not caused by a poor diet. Many healthy women with great eating habits have very heavy or painful periods, just as women with unhealthy eating habits may have completely normal periods.Excessive periods are usually caused by an underlying condition such as uterine fibroids, polyps, adenomyosis, or hormonal imbalances. Proper treatment thus requires an accurate diagnosis to identify the true cause of your heavy period, and then a treatment plan to address it.
- An absent or very light period is not healthy either.
Some bloggers say that after following a strict diet, their periods became either very light or were absent completely. Most likely, these women were restricting their diet so severely that they did not ingest enough calories to keep their body functioning. They lost too much weight, became deficient in estrogen, and therefore lost their periods. This is called amenorrhea. We occasionally see conditioned athletes (particularly long-distance runners) who lose their periods, but it’s certainly not something to aspire to: Losing your period because of starvation or over-exertion signals a deficiency in estrogen. For reproductive-aged women, a lack of estrogen is generally not healthy.
In gynecology, we offer many treatments for women with excessive periods, including:
In women treated with these medications, devices, and procedures, a light period is an expected consequence and is not unhealthy.
What You Can Do for Heavy Periods
If you struggle with heavy periods, there is hope. Depending on the exact cause of your excessive flow, you may benefit from one of the following:
- Birth control (pills, intrauterine devices)
- Prescription medication
- Surgical procedures
If you suffer from heavy periods, we can offer you a better solution than a starvation diet. Call or request an appointment today!