Does Consuming High Levels of Protein Cause Menstruation to Stop?

Paleo diet products
While high consumption of protein carries some risks, it won't trigger the onset of amenorrhea. (Image: Magone/iStock/Getty Images)

When a woman of child-bearing age does not menstruate for three months or longer, she has a condition called secondary amenorrhea. This menstrual change has a variety of potential natural and abnormal underlying causes. While high consumption of protein carries some risks, it won't trigger the onset of amenorrhea.

The Basics

Amenorrhea is not a separate medical disorder, according to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. Instead, it indicates the presence of other specific disorders or situations. In addition to cessation of menstruation, potential symptoms of secondary amenorrhea include vision problems, nausea, extreme thirst, headaches, darkening skin, swollen breasts and a visible enlargement of the thyroid gland called a goiter. Another form of amenorrhea, called primary amenorrhea, occurs in teenage girls and is characterized by a lack of menstruation onset by age 16. Its potential symptoms include headaches, acne, vision problems, extreme hair growth and blood pressure abnormalities.

Amenorrhea Causes

Mayo Clinic lists potential lifestyle-related causes of amenorrhea that include low body weight, participation in excessive amounts of exercise and stress. Potential hormone-related causes of amenorrhea include thyroid gland dysfunction, polycystic ovary syndrome, premature menopause and pituitary gland tumors. Medications that can stop normal menstruation include antidepressants, antipsychotics, chemotherapy drugs and antihypertensives. Structural problems associated with amenorrhea include vaginal abnormalities, scarring of the uterus and improper development of the reproductive organs. Various forms of birth control also can trigger the onset of amenorrhea, including birth control pills, intrauterine devices and implanted devices. Natural causes of menstruation stoppage include pregnancy, lactation and menopause.

High Protein Consumption

The University of California at Los Angeles reports that people can use a maximum of roughly 0.9 g of protein per pound of body weight on any given day. If you eat more than 1 g per pound of body weight, you can potentially degrade the function of your kidneys by increasing the amount of waste materials they must process and excrete in your urine. People with pre-existing kidney problems have a specific risk for these protein-related problems. Other potential problems associated with high or excessive protein consumption include dehydration and decreased consumption of the nutrients found in carbohydrate-based foods. If you get protein from animal sources, additional potential concerns include increased intake of saturated fat, high blood levels of harmful cholesterol and loss of the calcium normally stored in your bones.

Considerations

Several factors can increase your risks for the onset of primary or secondary amenorrhea, including high or excessive amounts of athletic training, a family history of menstruation disruption and the presence of eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia. Another form of menstrual disruption, called oligomenorrhea, results in infrequent or occasional periods rather than menstruation stoppages. Treatment for amenorrhea depends on its underlying causes and can include lifestyle changes, use of birth control pills, medication and surgery. Consult your doctor for more information on menstruation stoppages and the potential consequences of high or excessive protein consumption.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2018 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.