Why would eating healthier mess up your menstrual cycle?

I started the Whole 30 diet at the beginning of this month (Whole 30 diet in a nutshell: no added sugars, alcohol, dairy, grains, or legumes). It’s working pretty well, my body composition is improving, and I have improved energy levels and recover from workouts faster.

I have been on birth control for years, so my period has been incredibly regular for years – showing up between Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night during the fourth week of my cycle.

It’s Friday afternoon and I haven’t gotten my period. I don’t think I’m pregnant, and I’m almost completely sure that this diet is what messed up my period. But here’s what I stupidly can’t wrap my head around: if you’re doing something healthy, why would it cause you to miss your period? I mean, isn’t a missed period unhealthy?

I know if you get your body fat really low that can mess with your period, but I don’t think my body fat is low enough to cause that. I did read that if you drop a lot of weight fast that it can cause problems, and I did drop about six pounds in a month. I think I’m blabbering right now. Essentially, I’m just hoping someone could explain to me why healthy changes to your diet could result in something seemingly unhealthy. Or am I mistaken in thinking that a missed period when you’re not pregnant is unhealthy?

Women on the pill can still get pregnant. I would recommend a pregnancy test.

I don’t think a pregnancy test works when you’re only three days late, does it? I was figuring I’d give it another week or so before taking the test. Also, I don’t feel pregnant, you know? I’ll grant you that it’s possible I’m pregnant, but it’s unlikely.

Of course; I didn’t mean right this second, sorry!

may I ask what you do get to eat …?

Meat, fruit, and vegetables, for the most part. Some seeds and nuts, and a lot of eggs.

It could be a lot of things, but about the particular thing you are asking … I don’t think it’s so much healthy v. unhealthy, but rather that you’re eating differently.

Radically changing what you eat will change how your body works. It doesn’t matter if you’re going ‘healthier’ (however that’s defined) or not, any big change in diet will likely cause changes in how the body works, and they might not always be ones that you like.

“Three days late” is not the same thing as “missed entirely”. I don’t care how regular you are, it’s always possible to have a slight wobble in the calendar.

Changing your diet significantly is a pretty significant change in your environment, it’s possible it was enough to delay your period. That doesn’t mean it’s the cause, just that it is possible. Or yes, you could be pregnant but it’s a bit early to be sure about that.

There are many reasons a woman might skip a period while not pregnant. That doesn’t raise any flags, what might be a flag in this case is your extreme regularity. Again, a missed period is not inherently unhealthy.

Take a deep breath, keep eating healthy, take a pregnancy test when you’re a week late if that would help you (and maybe Aunt Flo will have arrived by that time), and if you’re still really concerned see a doctor. Or if you entirely skip a second month without being pregnant.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional. If any such show up in this thread and have a different recommendation go with what the professionals say.

The reason that antibiotics make the pill not work is that they change the way your liver metabolizes the hormones (or something in the pill, I’m not sure, but anyway, changes your liver metabolism). If your diet has changed your metabolism radically, it could have done several things: one it make the pill not work; another is to alter your hormone cycle. Now, I realize that the pill is supposed to keep your hormone cycle on an even keel in spite of outside factors, but even the pill may have a tipping point, where your cycle changes in spite of it. After all, the pill has a certain amount of hormone, and your body produces a certain amount; many factors can affect the amount your body produces in addition to what the pill produces, and the pill all by itself does not produce enough to make you menstruate, so if your body’s production drops too low, your won’t have a period.

Stress can stop your period. I didn’t have one the whole time I was in basic training. Granted, I was engaging in really strenuous physical activity, but I was also eating plenty, and didn’t lose much weight, so it wasn’t weight loss. I also know several women whose periods stopped when they were freshmen in college.

Radical changes to your diet might not seem like “stress,” in the way basic training, or your first year of college are, but you are putting your body through radical changes, in addition to the “worry” over choosing the right foods, fussing over reading labels, and such. It may make you happy, but it’s still stress.

I was thinking hormones, as well. If you’ve increased your meat and dairy, you’re likely getting more dietary estrogen, both naturally-occurring and whatever hormones have been added and/or fed to the animals.

There are tests that work before your period is due, FWIW. Early Result Pregnancy Test | First Response™

Thank you everyone for your responses. (I’m responding on my iPad now so it’s a little harder to read individual responses as I’m replying.)

A couple follow-up questions, either for the people who brought these things up or really for anyone who might have an idea:
(1) For those of you suggesting that this diet has altered my estrogen production, hormone levels, etc., are you implying that this would mess with the efficacy of the birth control pill?

(2) For those of you who suggested that any radical change will alter your body’s physiological response, any idea how long before the body normalizes again?

If you’re working out harder than you were, that can cause a change. Even on birth control, I wouldn’t worry about one missed menstruation - people on BC often take them straight through and either never have periods while on it or only have one every 3 months. I was on BC for over 20 years and did variations of monthly to quarterly and still didn’t always actually menstruate during the week “off.” I would worry about the missed menstruation as a concern for pregnancy, but not as an overall health problem.

With the new diet and especially if workouts are more rigorous, I’d give myself three months to adjust, if it were me. Back when I upped my workouts to 5 days a week, I ended up spotting during the first couple months. My doctor was unconcerned.

Get two pregnancy tests from Dollar Tree. If either are positive *then *it’s time to pee on the more expensive ones. If not, peace of mind for $2 is tough to beat.
Otherwise you’re going to think of little else until your period starts. Heck, peeing on expensive things seems to help periods start.

I went “Paleo” about 5 years ago. The Whole 30 is an extreme version of that (for instance, I find that I tolerate dairy, potatoes, rice, and beans fine, so I eat as much of those as I want. Wheat makes me break out and feel generally like crap, so I avoid it).

A LOT changed about my body when I did this. For instance, I used to get sick every year with bronchitis. Sick enough that I ran a high fever and had to go to the doctor for antibiotics. This was a constant in my life, every year, for as long as I could remember. I used get sick all the damn time, several colds a year, general malaise. Since I changed my diet, I’ve never once ran a fever. I’ve had a few colds, about one a year, where I feel a bit run down for a couple of days, but that’s it. I’ve never been to the doctor for illness since I changed my diet. There is other stuff, but no one cares so I’m not going into it. My cycle has been normal, but so much else about my body has changed that being a few days late on my period would barely be a blip. If you’re worried, yes, once you’re late, pregnancy tests will show if you’re pregnant–the dollar store ones are the same as the $12 ones, but with better packaging. But I doubt it.

I wouldn’t be freaking out just yet. Your body is adjusting.

I’m not; I have no idea! I just remember that when I did very low carb years ago that I began spotting between my periods. That had NEVER happened, and somehow I figured out it was from the hormones given to the animals I consumed. I ate a lot of meat, gross. I’ve no idea if that’s right or not, it could be that the huge change in my diet was responsible, but it was certainly possible.

How did your diet change? What are you eating now?

You know, I never thought about it before, but when I became a vegetarian at age 20, my periods got lighter, and my horrible cramps that used to be practically debilitating on the second day resolved to the point that two 500mg Tylenol, one am, one pm, kept them at bay. I just thought it was because my pubertal hormones were stabilizing, but maybe it also had to do with not getting hormones from meat.

I was once on the pill when I was 22, for 3 months. I gained 10 pounds, and was angry all the time, at every little thing. My periods were lighter, but I still got exactly the same cramps. Stopped the pill, and magically got better within about 36 hours. Lost the weight in like 3 weeks, so a lot of it was probably water. Never again.

I don’t think hormones from meat are it. The only meat I’m consuming is either from the Whole Foods butcher counter or directly from a small farm, and I don’t think either of those sources pump their animals with hormones.

How did my diet change? The biggest ways are no more eating out, no more rice/bread/noodles, no more cheese, no more condiments, and no more milk or yogurt. And of course, cutting out absolutely anything with added sugar is really a huger endeavor than any of the changes I listed in the previous sentence. What I’m eating a lot more of: eggs, red meat, sweet potatoes, fruit (esp. bananas, apples, and dates), mushrooms, avocados, spinach.

It’s probably not the hormones in food, then. Good luck with your new way of eating! I do much better when I don’t eat sugar, but kicking it was HARD. If you’re not pregnant, I bet it’s your body adjusting to your new eating habits. Healthy or not, it’s still a change. I’m sure it will level out.

Please let us know how it goes! :slight_smile:

Rivkah, I was on the pill only once and became horribly depressed. It gave me a lot of insight into how clinical depression feels. I was lucky enough to be able to just stop taking a pill, but it would be horrible to live like that all the time.