Tag Archives: irregular periods

Dr. Laura Briden Describes How To Regulate Your Period Naturally – By Holly Grigg-Spall

 Dr. Lara Briden is a naturopathic doctor. She currently practices at Sensible-Alternative Hormone Clinic in Sydney, Australia. She is also the author of the popular troubleshooting guide, “Period Repair Manual.”

Dear Menstruation Mechanic, Lara Briden:

Erin: I fear that because sometimes I miss my period for a month or two, I will not be able to use Daysy with confidence. For example, I will have several months when my period is normal and then I will miss a month or two out of nowhere. I am 21 years old, and height 5′ and weight 105 lbs (BMI 20.5), and I’ve never had an eating disorder. My hormone levels were tested in high school and they are normal.  How can I regulate my cycle?

Dear Erin,

First the good news: Daysy  would never give you a “green day” (a non-fertile “safe” day, if you’re wanting to avoid pregnancy) unless she is very certain that you’re not fertile that day. Therefore, you can rely on Daysy even when you have somewhat irregular cycles.

Now the bad news: With your long cycles (3 months between bleeds), you may not see any green days. Why not? Because a cycle that long is not likely to be ovulatory, which means that ovulation does not occur. And remember, Daysy works by detecting the temperature shift after ovulation. So no ovulation = no green days.

Tip: A healthy ovulatory cycle ranges anywhere from  21 to 35 days. Teens have longer cycles because they are still “growing into” ovulatory cycles.

To regulate your cycle to at least every 35 days, you must encourage your body to ovulate more often, and that means figuring out why it’s not ovulating in the first place.

You say your hormones were tested a few years ago and were “normal”, but you don’t know that your doctor tested everything, and besides, things might be different now. It’s common for teens with irregular cycles to eventually develop an anovulatory condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. I encourage you to see your doctor again, especially if you have any other PCOS symptoms such as facial hair or acne.

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When you’re with your doctor, ask her: “Why do I not ovulate every month? Do you think I could have PCOS, coeliac disease, or a thyroid problem?” Also, please tell your doctor if you’re vegetarian, because vegetarians are often deficient in iron and zinc, and that can cause irregular periods. To be able to assess everything properly, your doctor will need to order blood tests.

Tip: Please don’t let your doctor prescribe the Pill to “regulate” your periods, because pill bleeds are not real periods.

After testing, your doctor should be able to offer you a diagnosis, and then you can start looking for the right treatment. For example, if you’re deficient in zinc, then supplementing zinc is all you need to do, and your periods should improve. If you have PCOS, then you can look at natural PCOS treatments such as inositol and the herbal medicine peony and licorice. See my previous Menstruation Mechanic post about PCOS.

If everything is normal on the blood test, then stress might be the cause of your irregular cycles. In that case, please consider a magnesium supplement for stress relief, as well as the herbal medicine Vitex.

Please see my book “Period Repair Manual” for more treatment ideas.


Holly Grigg-Spall

Marketing Consultant and Blog Editor – When she came off the birth control pill after 10 years in 2009, Holly decided to write a blog about the experience. That blog became a series of articles, and then book, “Sweetening the Pill,” which then inspired a feature documentary, currently in production and executive produced by Ricki Lake. She is a fertility awareness and body literacy advocate and educator, a Daysy enthusiast, and excited to help more women come off the birth control pill and find a natural, effective alternative. holly.grigg-spall@valley-electronics.com

How To Stop Premenstrual Spotting With Dr. Lara Briden By Holly Grigg-Spall

In honor of May 28 Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day, SuzyKnew! shares an article by Holly Grigg-Spall with Dr. Lara Briden, known as the “Menstruation Mechanic”

Dear Menstruation Mechanic, Lara Briden,

“I’ve had 7-9 days of premenstrual spotting since some stress a few months ago. My cycle also shortened to 23 days. I tried magnesium, which reduced the spotting and brought my cycle back out to 26 days, but now on my third cycle with magnesium the spotting is back. What’s causing this? Should I be more patient with the magnesium or try something else like vitex or bio-identical progesterone? … Cathrine”


Dear Cathrine,

Great question about premenstrual spotting.

First I’ll discuss spotting in general, or as your gynecologist likes to call it: Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding (DUB).

Bleeding between periods can occur for a number of different reasons. Light bleeding with ovulation is the result of a slight drop in estrogen, and is normal. Bleeding throughout the month and after sex can be due to an infection or a condition called endometriosis. It’s something to see your doctor about, especially if you also notice pain with sex. Bleeding throughout the month can occur with a hormonal condition called polycystic hormone syndrome (PCOS), and is also something to get checked out. Finally, spotting can be an early sign of a pregnancy or miscarriage.

Spotting between pill bleeds is called “breakthrough bleeding” and is something completely different. It’s nothing to do with your own hormones (remember, hormonal birth control switches off your body’s own hormones). Instead, breakthrough bleeding is the result of an incorrect dosage of whichever synthetic steroid combination your doctor gave you, and may need to be adjusted. Bleeding is also common during the few months after the insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD).

But Cathrine, your question is about premenstrual spotting, which is none of those things.

From the perspective of conventional medicine, a few days of premenstrual spotting is normal, and is viewed simply as a gradual start to a menstrual bleed. From a functional medicine (optimal health) perspective, premenstrual spotting is not ideal. It means your uterine lining is shedding early because there  has not been enough progesterone to hold it all the way to the end of your luteal phase (post-ovulation phase).

You also noticed a shortened cycle. It would be interesting to know if it was your luteal phase that had shortened, and furthermore, if your basal body temperatures dipped in your luteal phase. Those things, and the fact that you spot for so long (7-9 days), are all further evidence of a progesterone deficiency.

Progesterone deficiency can be the result of stress, as you found. It happens because 1) stress impairs the quality of ovulation (remember, ovulation is how you make progesterone), and 2) stress causes your body to “steal” progesterone to make more stress hormone cortisol.

The solution is to reduce stress as much as possible and to take magnesium to regulate your stress regulatory system (also called the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal or HPA axis). You had some results from that, which is great.

The fact that your spotting improved, but then returned suggests that something else might be going on. One of the most common reasons for progesterone deficiency and protracted premenstrual spotting is underactive thyroid. I discuss underactive thyroid as a cause of premenstrual spotting in Rachel’s patient story in Chapter 5 of my book. It would be worth asking your doctor for a thyroid test, especially if you’ve noticed any other symptoms of underactive thyroid such as hair loss and dry skin.

If your thyroid is normal, then Yes, you could consider the herbal medicine Vitex to boost progesterone, or even a few months on a natural progesterone cream. Please speak to your doctor or naturopathic doctor before using progesterone. (More about progesterone cream in a future installment!)


Holly Grigg-Spall

Marketing Consultant and Blog Editor

When she came off the birth control pill after 10 years in 2009, Holly decided to write a blog about the experience. That blog became a series of articles, and then book, “Sweetening the Pill,” which then inspired a feature documentary, currently in production and executive produced by Ricki Lake. She is a fertility awareness and body literacy advocate and educator, a Daysy enthusiast, and excited to help more women come off the birth control pill and find a natural, effective alternative.


Photo Credit: 360nobs.com, Tracthetrailher.com

ASK AN OBGYN: Will My Irregular Periods Prevent Me From Getting Pregnant?

Dear SuzyKnew, 

I am a 27 year old woman and I’ve been trying to get pregnant for some time now, but it’s all in vain. I can miss my periods for  six months or more.  Please, do you have any advice?  

Thank you,



Dear Stellah,

I’m so glad you wrote.  You sound concerned about what’s going on with your body.   The best way (and the only way) to know what’s going on in there is to see a doctor or nurse-practitioner for a physical exam.  Make an appointment today to be seen as soon as possible.

If you are not under the care of someone, there are several places you can go that offer low cost exams.   Planned Parenthood has been my go-to for many years.  Here is their website- http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-center/  to locate a clinic near you.   International Planned Parenthood Federation supports clinics around the world.  This website has an interactive map of clinics that offer women’s heath services-  http://www.ippf.org/our-work.  Health department clinics provide women’s health exams in the US and in countries around the world.  Community health Centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers in the US also offer high quality services on a sliding fee scale.

Here is what to expect when you see the doctor of nurse:

She will ask you many detailed questions about your health history, menstrual cycle, as well as past and current sexual and reproductive history.  She will also ask you about all medications you are taking (prescribed by a doctor, bought at a pharmacy and herbals) and any treatments and surgeries you have had.

She will also ask about your family history.  Before your visit, speak to your female relatives (mother, sisters, aunts) and ask if they have had any problems missing periods or if they have ever seen a doctor with the same symptoms you are experiencing.

She will give you a physical exam in order to detect anything out of the ordinary.   She will give you a breast and pelvic exam.  In the pelvic exam, she will take a small sample of your cervical tissue to test for cervical cancer.  She will feel the position of your uterus and check the size and position of your ovaries.   She may conduct additional tests to look at your general health and nutritional status.   She will also offer you an HIV test, and give vaccinations to protect you from many diseases.

After your visit:

This is very important, my dear.   Make sure you return to the doctor’s office for the results of your tests.  If you are scared, bring a friend or sister with you for support and to have someone write down what the doctor says while you are talking.  The doctor’s office can be overwhelming and a lot of important stuff is happening at a fast pace.  I always bring someone with me if I can.  Another way to remember everything is to bring a notebook and pen.  You can ask the doctor or nurse to write down information in your book so you can remember or share with others.

Finally, If you are worried about the cost of all this, tell your doctor or nurse.   I have directed you to clinics that offer discounted rates.   They will work with you so that cost is not a barrier to care.

Take good care.

S. Brockman, RN, MPh.


ASK AN OBGYN is not meant to be a substitute for your doctor or health care provider. Contact your provider with any health issues you may have.