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?
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.
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.