Before we get on to that, let’s explore why women with PCOS have an irregular cycle. What is going on with that?
Why do Women with PCOS have an Irregular Menstrual Cycle?
To understand how to kick start a period, we need to understand what is actually happening in our bodies to cause an irregular menstrual cycle.
In the diagram below, you can see that just before ovulation, there is a spike in levels of luteinizing hormone (LH). The problem is that many women with PCOS have high levels of LH throughout their cycle. That means that you aren’t getting that spike of LH so no ovulation is being triggered.
Now, the next problem is that you’ll see that progesterone levels go up after ovulation. This is because progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum (the left over follicle, after the egg has been released. It is the sharp fall of progesterone that causes a bleed.
If we are not ovulating, we won’t have a corpus luteum to produce the progesterone. If we have no progesterone, we are not going to have a period.
We have one more thing that we need to consider. ANDROGENS or testosterone, The American Congress of Obstetricans and Gynecologists suggest that high levels of testosterone also impact on ovulation and may prevent an egg from being released (1).
So, what can we do about this?
How can we kick start a period with PCOS?
1. Be Patient
Unfortunately when it comes to kickstarting a period, we need to be patient. You see, it takes a while for hormones to balance, for the egg to develop before ovulation. Then, once you have ovulated, it still takes 2 weeks to have a bleed.
So, although you can put everything I suggest into place, you still need to be patient with it and give your body time to balance and produce that egg (2).
2. It is a combined approach
As you’ll see, there are a number of things you can do to balance your hormones with PCOS. I would suggest that you combine the approaches. Just focusing on one thing may help but you’ll probably have better success if you combine a number of these things.
3. Change the way that you eat
As you move through this site, you’ll notice that I am passionate about using food to manage my PCOS and I am firm believer that this is always the first thing that you can do. Now, I have spoken about the PCOS Diet in many places and many times. But, in this article, I’m going to explain how each element of the PCOS Diet will help to balance your hormones and hopefully kickstart your period with PCOS.
I recommend eliminating gluten. Gluten tends to cause generalised inflammation in the body (something women with PCOS are already prone to). Inflammation also makes insulin resistance worse. Remember, the more insulin you have, the more testosterone is being produced by your ovaries. This is going disrupt ovulation and hinder your period.
One more thing to consider: If you suffer from really painful periods, you may want to consider giving up gluten. Painful periods have been associated with chronic inflammation. The more you can manage your general inflammation, the less painful your periods are likely to be (3).
My main concern with dairy is that it contains IGF-1 which mimics insulin in our bodies. High levels or IGF-1 are associated with higher testosterone levels. It is the testosterone component that can inhibit the menstrual cycle.
Low Glycemic Load
One of the biggest issues in PCOS is insulin processing. Women with PCOS tend to release too much insulin or are insulin resistant. To get PCOS under control and regulate the menstrual cycle, we must manage insulin and testosterone levels. Eating foods with a low glycemic load is a good way to go about this.
4. Take supplements
There are a number of supplements that you can take to not only manage your general PCOS symptoms, but to also kick start your period.
Ovasitol is a combination of myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol in a 40:1 ratio. I feel that the combination of both inositols make Ovasitol a great supplement and it is my number 1 supplement for women with PCOS. Not only will Inositol help with your general PCOS symptoms, research has also shown that Inositol supplementation:
- Restores normal ovulatory activity
- Lowers free testosterone
- Lowers LH (remember we tend to have consistently high levels of LH)
- Increases peak progesterone (remember that a drop in progesterone after ovulation will result in a period.
Did you know that 85% of women with PCOS are deficient in Vitamin D (4). That is HUGE. Recent research has also found that Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with an irregular menstrual cycle (5). If you aren’t already taking a Vitamin D supplement, I really suggest that you do!
5. Time your Calories
For this blog post, we’re not going to go into how many calories we should be having and how to break them down between carbs, protein and fat. Instead, we’re going to look at WHEN in the day we should be having those calories.
A recent research study conducted by Dr Daniela Jakubowicz found that women with lean PCOS who had most of their calories at breakfast (980 calories) had improved insulin sensitivity and improved ovulation rate (6).
That means that by increasing your calories in the morning, having a regular lunch and a lower calorie meal in the evening can help to kick start your period.
6. Consider Acupuncture
- It works on the neuroendocrine system to lower levels of luteinzing hormone.
- It decreases the amount of testosterone being produced by the ovaries.
- It helps to improve insulin sensitivity which will lead to a decrease in testosterone.
So, acupuncture can help to kickstart your period and help to make your menstrual cycle more regular (7).
7. Lose weight
Now I know that this is often easier said than done. Many women with PCOS struggle to lose weight (but it’s not impossible! There are some things you can do.)
The good news is that if you are able to lose even 10-15 pounds, you are likely to have a more regular menstrual cycle.
8. Use Natural Progesterone Cream
Natural progesterone cream is a synthetic progesterone that you can rub onto your skin. The theory is that if you are not ovulating, you don’t have the corpus luteum to produce progesterone. Remember that if you don’t have that progesterone, your uterine lining isn’t building up and without the fall in progesterone after ovulation, you won’t have a bleed.
Using natural progesterone cream for the last two weeks of your cycle can help to produce a period. I have written about Natural Progesterone cream before here but if you have any questions about using natural progesterone cream, please speak to your doctor.
9. Consider From The Inside Out
Now, this is one that you may not have considered. As I mentioned in point 2, you need to use a combined approach. And you may be feeling stuck or not sure where to start. From The Inside Out is my 10 week course that takes you by the hand and helps you to implement most of these ways. I have had wonderful feedback from the over 800 women who have been through the course. Kick starting your period is just one of the results that you could see, not to mention weight loss, improved skin, and improved fertility.
You can find out more about From The Inside Out here.
Well, I think that about covers it. Just to summarise, here are the 8 Ways to Kickstart your Period with PCOS:
- Be patient
- Use a combined approach
- Change the way that you eat
- Take supplements
- Time your calories
- Consider acupuncture
- Lose weight
- Consider From The Inside Out
I would love to hear from you! Have I left anything out or have you had any success in kick starting your period? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Tarryn is the founder of PCOS Diet Support, the top ranked PCOS diet & lifestyle site with over 160,000 users per month. As a fellow cyster there are no empty promises here, just facts