Short Menstrual Cycle & Diet

A typical menstrual cycle lasts approximately 28 days, but cycles can range from 21 to 35 days in adults. A woman with a short menstrual cycle experiences her period more than once a month. Certain types of food can help to regulate your menstrual cycle. If your periods are coming less than 21 days apart though, consult your gynecologist to rule out any medical issues.

Young woman in robe with menstrual cramps. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Menstrual Cycle

A menstrual cycle is controlled by various hormones. During the first part of your cycle, estrogen levels begin to rise. The estrogen level causes the lining of the uterus to thicken in case you become pregnant. An egg begins to mature and typically is released around day 14 of your cycle. The egg leaves the ovary through the fallopian tube into the uterus. If the egg is not fertilized, it will break apart and your uterus sheds the extra lining. Your hormone levels drop and this is when you have your period.

Causes of a Short Menstrual Cycle

Because the menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones, many factors can influence it. Hormonal imbalances caused by a number of reasons can contribute to a shorter-than-normal cycle. Certain conditions of your thyroid can affect hormone levels. Hormonal imbalances experienced by women near menopause also can be a factor. Taking estrogen supplements alone can cause the uterine lining to become too thick and shed often. Other conditions, such as polyps or fibroids, can affect hormonal levels.

Diet

A diet high in fiber can cause an increase in irregular periods. Fiber is believed to remove excess estrogen, which is required to regulate your menstrual cycle. Dietary fat also might help to control your monthly cycle. Fat helps to increase your body's production of estrogen and regulate your menstrual cycle. A sudden change in weight affects your menstrual cycle. Women with eating disorders might experience missed periods because of a loss of body fat, which reduces estrogen production.

Research

A 2006 study published in "Nutrition and Cancer" examined the relationship between diet and menstrual cycle in 341 Japanese women ages 18 to 20. The researchers found that women who ate fiber and polyunsaturated fat experienced changes in their menstrual cycle. Another study published in "Cancer" in 2003 also linked dietary fiber and fats to menstrual cycle length. A low-fat and high-fiber diet did not affect circulating ovarian steroids significantly, but a 7.5-percent reduction in estradiol was noted.

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