5 Exercises For Those With Irregular Menstrual cycles
- Irregular periods (less than 21 days or above 35 days) are often caused by lifestyle factors like stress, weight fluctuations, and sicknesses or medical issues like PCOS and thyroid, to name a few.
- Performing various low to moderate-intensity exercises for irregular periods is a great way to tackle these causes as physical fitness helps alleviate stress, maintain a healthy weight, and boost metabolism.
- Consult a healthcare professional or a physical therapist to develop a tailored irregular period exercise routine that can include yoga, kegel exercises, cardio, and strength training.
We all have a love-hate relationship with our periods! When it's that time of the month, we can’t wait for the period pain, bloating, and mood swings to go away. But, dealing with irregular periods is a lot more stressful, and once again, we wait in anticipation of our next menstrual cycle.
However, for some of us, periods can pop up like uninvited guests at the most despicable times. Like when you're getting ready for a party or about to run a marathon. Don't you hate when that happens? Especially if you are unprepared and nowhere near your date. However, if this happens often to you, there might be a problem, and you might need to know about exercises for regular menstruation.
Unfortunately, irregular period cycles are becoming more and more of a reality. A normal cycle has 28 days between each period, with slight variations in this duration. Irregular periods, on the other hand, occur when there is a gap of less than 21 days or more than 35 days, or if the intervals keep changing.
The stress of daily life, sudden weight gain, and unhealthy eating habits coupled with issues like PCOS, uterine fibroid, and thyroid are some causes of irregular menstruation, and the solution can vary based on your doctor’s instructions. But, along with diet, one of the most common instructions given is to have a fixed exercise schedule.
Let’s explore how exercises for irregular periods can help those with uneven menstrual cycles, and how to streamline your cycle so you won’t be caught off-guard all the time.
Menstrual cycle: What's a normal one like?
Every woman is unique in her own way. Even the length of a menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman.
The average cycle is around 28 days; however, a regular cycle anywhere between 21 to 40 days is considered normal as long as you can predict the dates.
Here’s what happens in a menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones. In the first half of the cycle, an increase in estrogen levels leads to the development and release of the egg from the ovary, meanwhile, the womb lining also begins to thicken.
In the second half, the hormone progesterone begins to prepare the womb for conceiving. If the womb doesn’t receive an embryo, the hormone levels fall, and the womb lining sheds away along with blood in the form of our periods.
What does an irregular period mean?
Periods can last for a few days longer or shorter, but after puberty, they mostly arrive at the same time each month. An early or late period once in a while is not always an issue.
But if the length of your cycle keeps changing, you have irregular periods. In some cases, it is advisable to see your doctor.
Why are my periods irregular?
Irregular periods could be caused by a lot of reasons. These include:
- If you have just started getting periods. During puberty, it is possible to have irregular periods for the first year or two after which they usually get streamlined.
- If you're nearing menopause. Most women undergo menopause between the ages of 45 to 55, beyond which they stop having periods completely. A few months before a phase known as perimenopause, you may experience irregular periods.
- You could be pregnant. You can take a pregnancy test to rule this out.
- Your birth control. Hormonal birth control pills can cause irregularities in your period. So can Intrauterine systems/devices.
- Disease conditions like PCOS and thyroid problems can also affect your periods.
- Your lifestyle. If you are stressed, lose or gain weight in short periods of time, have a sedentary lifestyle, or exercise too much- all of these factors can affect your periods.
Physical activity and irregular periods
Studies have found that women who exercise regularly are less likely to experience problems with menstruation.
Exercises like yoga or pilates can release 'happy' hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, which could be the reason for their beneficial effects on periods. Read on to know more benefits of exercise during periods!
Exercise for period regulation: How does it help?
- Exercise is known to release endorphins or feel-good hormones. This can greatly reduce stressors that cause hormonal imbalances.
- Change in body weight or sudden weight gain can cause your body to produce more oestorgen, which can affect the frequency of your periods. Exercise can help keep this weight in check
- Performing exercises to have regular menstruation can even regulate your flow during periods, which ensures less cramping.
However, bear in mind that over-exercising can put your body under a lot of stress and disrupt the hormonal balance, worsening the problem of irregular periods. The goal is to balance your workout by doing about 3-5 hours of moderate-intensity routines every week.
5 exercises for irregular periods
Since ancient times, yoga, a physical movement exercise, has had profound positive effects on mental health, stress, flexibility, pelvic floor, arthritis, lower back pain, and much more. But did you know that yoga is also a great tool to improve hormonal imbalance and regulate your menses?
Yoga for irregular periods is often a low-impact practice with high-impact benefits. The gentle movements help you stay more mindful and reduce chronic stress, a common cause of irregular periods. It also stimulates and activates reproductive processes healthily. Here are some poses to help support your efforts in regularizing your monthly cycles.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana: Also known as Downward Facing Dog Pose, this asana focuses on strengthening stomach muscles. Get on all fours, and then take a deep breath in and lift your hips to make an inverted V. Hold for a few seconds and then exhale as you come back to all fours.
- Baddha Konasana: This is called the Butterfly Pose and is a very beneficial asana in yoga for irregular periods as it strengthens your pelvic floor while improving blood circulation. To do this, sit on your yoga mat comfortably, with knees bent and soles of the feet touching each other. While holding your soles, move your thighs up and down similar to a butterfly’s wings. Do this for a few minutes.
- Dhanurasana: The Bow Pose has many positive effects on the reproductive system, while also developing your abdominal and back muscles. You will start by lying down on your stomach. Then bend your knees and lift your legs while stretching your arms to grab your ankles and steady the pose. Your torso will support your weight, so hold this pose for a few seconds before letting go.
2. Aerobic exercises
Activities like running, cycling, or swimming, when done in moderation, are great exercises for periods and their regulation. This is because they improve the circulation of blood in your body, promoting better blood flow to the lower section of your abdomen.
Also known as cardiovascular exercises, these activities can greatly help manage weight too, as constant fluctuations in weight can affect the frequency of periods. Insulin sensitivity is another factor that these workouts enhance which improves overall hormonal balance.
The important thing to remember here is that you need to listen to your body and balance the length and intensity of these exercises. Doing too much too soon can stop the flow or, at the least, cause uterine fibroid or PCOS period length to be erratic.
A great way to engage and stimulate your abdominal muscles is by doing planks. Planks are one of the best and simplest ways to strengthen your core. It is an isometric exercise that targets your lower back, abdomen, and hips while also working on your arms and legs. This means it can help your burn fat without any strenuous workouts.
Another reason why this is a great exercise for irregular periods is because it helps improve your metabolism. As irregular periods can be caused by sudden weight gain due to PCOS or other factors, a good metabolism can increase your chances of keeping your weight in check.
4. Kegel Exercises
The area between your hips which also hold your reproductive organs is known as the pelvis. A strong pelvic floor can help treat issues like urinary incontinence and irregularities in your menstrual cycle.
And kegel exercises are the best workout to activate and strengthen your pelvic floor. However, along with this, don’t forget to continue your other exercises to have regular menstruation.
Kegel exercises involve squeezing or clenching, holding, and then releasing your pelvic muscles like when you are trying to hold back urine mid-stream.
It’s best to start doing them when you are lying down. Try to hold for 3 counts and release for 3 counts. You can do them in 3 sets of 10 when you first begin.
5. Strength Training
As stated before, stress, sudden weight gain, or menstrual issues like PCOS are common causes of irregular menstruation, and the solution lies in resistance training or strength training.
Using light weights or resistance bands in your workouts can help build muscle mass in your body and improve your metabolism. High metabolism is essential for burning fat to keep weight in check and boost estrogen regulation.
The more frequently you indulge in strength training, the better results you can expect. However, it is preferable to go for lightweights that focus on major muscle groups and do it at moderate intensity. Talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or even gym trainer to develop a more customized workout routine that does not put tremendous stress on you.
Easy exercises almost anyone can do for smooth periods
Walking is one of the easiest ways to get in exercise in your busy schedule. A brisk walk should be enough to get your heart rate up and engage in moderate-level physical activity.
Try taking a brisk walk for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.
2. Spot Jogs
Spot jogging can get your heart rate up quickly and get the good hormones flowing. This is a great aerobic exercise to regulate the menstrual cycle.
Run in place for 10-minute intervals and gradually move up to 15-20 minutes. 2-3 repetitions can be good enough. Alternatively, you can mix this up with other exercises.
3. Squats and crunches
Abdominal strength training exercises like squatting and crunches can give good exercise to your pelvic muscles and is one of the best exercises for regular periods.
Try to do 3 sets of 10-12 reps at one time.
Erratic menstrual cycles are definitely challenging, but not incurable. To regulate irregular periods, exercise routines should be incorporated into your daily life, along with a balanced diet and lifestyle. These practices help balance your hormones, reduce stress levels, and maintain a healthy weight, all of which are essential for the smooth functioning of reproductive processes.
However, when doing exercises for irregular periods, remember not to overdo it as too much physical strain can negatively impact your menstrual cycle, leading to irregularities or even the absence of periods. Don’t forget to consult with a healthcare professional who can help you strike the right balance between physical activity and rest to get your periods back on track!
Frequently Asked Questions
An abnormal period is when you have missed or delayed periods, or if the lengths of your menstrual cycle keep changing, much like with PCOS period lengths. A cycle of less than 21 days or more than 35 days is also considered irregular.
The best exercises for irregular periods are ones that have low to moderate intensity, activate and strengthen reproductive processes, help maintain weight and reduce stress. These include yoga, running, swimming, cycling, planks, kegel exercises, and strength training.
No, most antibiotics do not affect your periods and don’t cause irregularities. However, certain studies have shown that an antibiotic called rifampin, used in tuberculosis treatment, can alter your menstrual cycle.
Since there are multiple causes for irregular periods, the most natural way to tackle them all is by implementing lifestyle changes. Reduce fatty and processed foods and add more vitamins, magnesium, calcium, and other nutrient sources to your diet. Keep your weight in check by regularly practicing yoga or other exercises for irregular periods. Implement good sleeping habits and take proactive steps to reduce daily stress levels.
Follow a balanced and nourishing diet for your menstrual health by eating foods rich in iron, magnesium, Vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. Don’t forget to keep drinking lots of water and stay hydrated. Good exercises for periods include walking and pilates to start with, and as your energy levels increase, try cardio-based exercises like running, cycling, swimming, etc.
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