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Guzzi

Does your weight affect your menstrual flow?

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This might sound like a dumb question, but I doubt I’m alone in not really knowing very much about the mentrual cycle.  I’m fairly slim these days and I have very light periods, but back when I was clinically obese I had really (like seriously) heavy periods, and I’ve noticed that most of the women I know who are very slight seem to have very light periods.  

 

I’m aware that your weight can affect your hormones so it would make sense that it could affect your periods, but does that necessarily mean that low weight = light periods and high weight = heavy periods?  That seems to be a bit of a stretch, but is there any correlation?

 

What are other women’s experience of this?

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That I know of serious underweight or overweight will stop periods.
For me, having PCOS, I found that even if my BMI is not in the obese area, I don't get my period above a specific weight.
And when I was 16, and I was in a 'normal' BMI range was when my syntomps were the worst: heavy, painful periods with cramps so painful I could barely stand.
So my experience makes me think there is a correlation, but it's more complex than that...

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My "experience" is so irregular for so many reasons, that I'm not sure it is relevant. :P 

 

I do know that our hormones control practically everything.They run the menstrual cycle, they control our moods, our weight, etc. They are also impacted by all these things... being very overweight or very underweight, changes the hormone balance. I don't find it much of a stretch to imagine that the human body assumes that if it's starving it can't feed a growing fetus, and turns off ovulation until it has gained more weight. 

 

I went online to look because I'm pathologically curious and found some additional info. NSFW: Article is hosted by a site partially dedicated to educate its readers about about sex, as well as menstrual health.

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My "experience" is so irregular for so many reasons, that I'm not sure it is relevant.  
 
I do know that our hormones control practically everything.They run the menstrual cycle, they control our moods, our weight, etc. They are also impacted by all these things... being very overweight or very underweight, changes the hormone balance. I don't find it much of a stretch to imagine that the human body assumes that if it's starving it can't feed a growing fetus, and turns off ovulation until it has gained more weight. 
 
I went online to look because I'm pathologically curious and found some additional info. NSFW: Article is hosted by a site partially dedicated to educate its readers about about sex, as well as menstrual health.
That article feels so right to me! It's like it's telling my story (beside changing ortorexia with being overweight)
Thanks for sharing it!

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Sure. Seeing as adipose tissue is a metabolic and endocrine organ, it makes sense that bodyfat can affect your cycle - it's all hormones! Specifically an estrogen balance issue could cause a thicker uterine lining, and therefore heavier bleeding. That's also likely why hormonal birth control can help so much in cases such as mentioned in the article above, where the sex hormones need to level out a bit.

 

Just doing a quick google search suggests there's more likely to be a negative correlation with regularity vs flow in obese patients though. On the flip side, losing weight can also cause irregularity, so it's a bit of a catch-22. I think the conclusion is that fertility is at it's healthiest in an ideal AND homeostatic environment - ie. healthy consistent bodyweight. I'd imagine that the faster your body changes (in either direction, weight gain OR loss), your system needs to take a bit to rejig everything - and fertility is likely one of the last things to balance out, since you (in an evolutionary sense) shouldn't have babies unless you're likely to survive the pregnancy! Being perfectly fair, bodyfat can also likely affect a man's fertility!

 

I also think SO MUCH of it comes down to genetics - take myself for example,  I've had a very consistent cycle for my entire adult life regardless of bodyfat (which has ranged from 35%+ to ~20-22%), activity level, or weight. Even when I was travelling and eating weird food with inconsistent sleep schedules, hell even when I was experimenting with water fasting! Where I DO notice a difference is if I've been eating too much refined sugars, where I'm far more likely to get cramps (since I don't normally, it's a good signal that I've been eating like shit ;), yay feedback). Others could either lose their period entirely, or see big changes in flow/length/frequency even with something as 'straightforward' as starting a new job! It's just so individualistic - some women experience amenorrhea at 23% bodyfat, whereas others would need to be as low as 15% to see their cycle change.

 

Diet and stress are such huge factors that can affect your menstrual cycle, and personally I'd be more prone to looking at those factors first for most folks, simply because it's more likely to give you easier actionable changes (rather than just 'lose fat', which is...obviously, not as easy as it sounds :P). 

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Quote

Diet and stress are such huge factors that can affect your menstrual cycle, and personally I'd be more prone to looking at those factors first for most folks, simply because it's more likely to give you easier actionable changes (rather than just 'lose fat', which is...obviously, not as easy as it sounds :P). 

 

Twice in my life I’ve lost my periods completely.  First time was for about 3-4 months after a serious motorcycle accident (physical stress).  Second time was for a full 10 months after my husband died (emotional stress).  It’s interesting to see that your diet has such an impact as I can’t say I’ve ever noticed a difference, although that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened, lol! 

 

I think its it’s odd that we are educated so little about this topic when it affects us so frequently(!). 

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14 hours ago, Guzzi said:

I think its it’s odd that we are educated so little about this topic when it affects us so frequently(!). 

You mean like most useful life skills & knowledge? :P Nutrition, cooking, fitness, personal finance management, taxes, self-care, basic contract law, childrearing, basic etiquette, home & car maintenance, when to say 'no, personal branding and workplace relationships, basic mechanics of sex and enthusiastic consent, how to hem pants and patch clothes, making small talk, being able to travel on your own, etc.

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11 hours ago, Defining said:

You mean like most useful life skills & knowledge? :P Nutrition, cooking, fitness, personal finance management, taxes, self-care, basic contract law, childrearing, basic etiquette, home & car maintenance, when to say 'no, personal branding and workplace relationships, basic mechanics of sex and enthusiastic consent, how to hem pants and patch clothes, making small talk, being able to travel on your own, etc.

Can we add everyday science to this list? Like, why your doctor should not prescribe antibiotics for the flu, how cleaning agents work, how to compute if the sofa fits through the door, etc.? I'm lucky to be dutch, and most topics above were covered in highschool (most notably absent were the social skills), the rest I found out on my own or got taught by my parents. How to deal with heavy periods was a topic that you had to ask your mom, though, as this was in the period before wide-spread internet.

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16 hours ago, Defining said:

You mean like most useful life skills & knowledge? :P Nutrition, cooking, fitness, personal finance management, taxes, self-care, basic contract law, childrearing, basic etiquette, home & car maintenance, when to say 'no, personal branding and workplace relationships, basic mechanics of sex and enthusiastic consent, how to hem pants and patch clothes, making small talk, being able to travel on your own, etc.

 

4 hours ago, Waanie said:

 

Can we add everyday science to this list? Like, why your doctor should not prescribe antibiotics for the flu, how cleaning agents work, how to compute if the sofa fits through the door, etc.? I'm lucky to be dutch, and most topics above were covered in highschool (most notably absent were the social skills), the rest I found out on my own or got taught by my parents. How to deal with heavy periods was a topic that you had to ask your mom, though, as this was in the period before wide-spread internet.

 

You people went to weird schools, with incomplete curricula. :huh:

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1 hour ago, scalyfreak said:

 

 

You people went to weird schools, with incomplete curricula. :huh:

Yup! :( 

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2 hours ago, scalyfreak said:

You people went to weird schools, with incomplete curricula. :huh:

I think it's likely true for most schooling systems, internationally. With obvious exceptions, but... They may touch on budgeting basics, make phys-ed mandatory when possible, and tell people not to have sex until 18 but if you do use a condom. But that's about it. And there may be more information available, but most students in my experience don't pay attention in these classes because they're not always included in GPA totals, simply 'completion mandatory, pass/fail' courses. And in comparison, I did learn in geometry how to check the sofa:door question, alkaline vs acid vs detergent vs abrasives cleaning solutions in chemistry, and the appropriate time for antibiotics in biology. And obviously curricula have changed pretty radically over the last few decades, so education age is a relevant factor when making comparisons. But realistically speaking, SO MUCH of what you need to know to excel in adulthood is left either to the family unit to educate, or requires the individual go out and FIND those answers.

 

Which is part of what can cause such disparities between different classes/income brackets; children of more affluent households are FAR more likely to understand more complex wealth management strategies, they're more likely to have enrichment during school breaks which helps improve consistent performance between school years, parents with post-secondary education are more likely to keep books around the house which improves the incidence of childhood literacy, they can often be fed a higher caliber of food which can affect the child's ability to focus and perform in school, etc.

 

I see this in my work all the time, specifically for home maintenance - for example, telling people not to leave their drapes closed all the time to prevent icing/condensation on windows, to change your furnace filter every quarter or how to bleed & flush your hot water radiators, to run a ventilation fan in the bathroom for 20-30min after a shower to help prevent damp/mold, cleaning the hood fan filter, not to shove food scraps down the drain, so on and so forth.

 

And the social skills thing! I don't understand why it's not explicitly instructed - they're such essential skills, and we leave children entirely to the mercy of their personal aptitude (or lack thereof). I still struggle with body language and tone, and I've made a point of studying for decades since I realised that I was having difficulty understanding and empathising with my peers. I've studied classic etiquette, and those guidelines help inform most of the areas in interpersonal interactions that I AM confident with. And I often use acting classes/tips as instruction manuals to learn about reading others' non-verbal communication. But it's definitely not something that was ever addressed explicitly in school (apart from, I assume, the typical 'don't hit your classmate' stuff that would be typical for 3-8yo's).

 

I didn't learn about my period from my mum either - apart from the fact that it would happen, and school had already covered the mechanics of that. It's not something we ever discussed in my family, same as we never talked about birth control options or anything along those lines. However, in my family we DID grow up being told that a 'meal' was two veg (or a fruit & veg), a protein, and a starch; we learned how to cook basic stuff (not necessarily great food), which gave us the confidence to experiment and teach ourselves in the kitchen; we were also taught how to manage household expenses and why it's important to max out tax free savings options available. My extracurriculars were geared towards critical thinking and business management, musical theory & practice, with a side of semi-competitive sports for a bit. We had a day of the week set aside for reading/quiet time. So. Different strokes.

 

Sometimes I do really wonder why someone hasn't developed an online course to fill in all these gaps. Sites like Lifehacker are decent resources, but you STILL need to read with a grain of salt and ask questions about the information that's being presented to you. Surely there should be a 'things you should know' comprehensive compilation available in the internet age. Ah well.

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15 minutes ago, Defining said:

I think it's likely true for most schooling systems, internationally. With obvious exceptions, but... They may touch on budgeting basics, make phys-ed mandatory when possible, and tell people not to have sex until 18 but if you do use a condom. But that's about it. And there may be more information available, but most students in my experience don't pay attention in these classes because they're not always included in GPA totals, simply 'completion mandatory, pass/fail' courses.

 

Whether this is true or not depends a lot on where a person lives. For example, most of the US is disturbingly far behind the entire rest of the developed world in sex ed, and when it comes to educating young people about puberty and sexual health in general, largely because of the antiquated and very naive insistence of putting the legal age of consent several years after the sexual awakening of most individuals.

 

By contrast, I grew up in the Swedish school system. I had classes in how to balance a check book, how retirement savings work, how to cook, how to iron a shirt (ACED that one thanks to my dad teaching me this years before school did - HAH!). We had comprehensive sex ed as a part of biology class, starting with teaching us what puberty is and what to expect at the age of 10, and progressing from there.  Biology class was also where we learned that if a doctor prescribes antibiotics for the actual flu, you should get a second opinion, and probably file a complaint about the first doctor ;)

 

As for social skills... I suspect that's a little bit like learning our native language. Society assumes that you learn that from observing the people around you and how they act, and by the time you're old enough to start school, everyone around you expect you to know the basics and to be able to pick up the finer points as you grow older and better able to analyze what you observe of people around you. Classes in etiquette and/or manners build on said social skills, but they're not the same.

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Yeeeaaaah….. I'd say that especially in terms of sex education, it's true of most places; 'developed' world or no. With the Nordic & Low Countries as exceptions, most of the EU still has pretty regressive sex-ed, mostly based on prescribed abstinence and the basics in biology & protected sex. China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, and Pakistan have virtually no decent sexual education curricula, often hindered by cultural and religious issues around it - and those 5 represent (apart from the  US, which is #3) the largest populations in the world. Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, and Mexico don't fare any better, and they make up the rest of the top 10 countries in terms of population.

 

Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all suffer in this instance from their British roots, and also don't have especially progressive sex ed. And for most 'developed countries' (again, taking into consideration the obvious exceptions), their school systems may touch on things like antibiotics and sex organ biology, but for the vast majority of the time the useful skills & knowledge aren't taught in formal education. I grew up in Canada, and we did touch on balancing budgets and basic cooking, but most students did NOT retain that information into adulthood.  It's not just the US.

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Fair enough. My experience with the school systems of other countries is a bit limited :P

 

I currently live in a state in the US that defaults to no sex ed at all. Parents have to request it for their kids, and if they do, it's a one-hour session of scare mongering about diseases, and that's it. That's what I meant with disturbingly far behind the rest of the world... most countries at least seem to try.

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On 4/1/2019 at 8:08 PM, scalyfreak said:

I currently live in a state in the US that defaults to no sex ed at all. Parents have to request it for their kids, and if they do, it's a one-hour session of scare mongering about diseases, and that's it. That's what I meant with disturbingly far behind the rest of the world... most countries at least seem to try.

 

Dear God, seriously....?!!!! ::blink:

 

Our schools (UK) educate from age 10-ish, although it’s got to be said that it’s pretty factual (as in, just dealing with the biological facts) rather than talking openly about sex and relationships.  Or at least, that’s what it was like “when I were a lad:D  It might be different these days. 

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anecdotally, my weight's been pretty normal my entire life; I was a slightly thin teenager and became a slightly curvy adult.  My periods have been what I would qualify as somewhat heavy, with agonizing cramps, the whole time.   I also have pretty short, slightly irregular cycles.

 

I suppose larger women might bleed more than smaller women because their proportions are all bigger, but I think it varies a lot more by individual (genetics and hormones) than by outer body size.  Even if you gain/lose fat or muscle, your internal organs aren't getting noticeably bigger or smaller.

 

as for the state of US education, don't get me staaaarted.  People here literally think teaching kids about sex is a violation of their religion.  And I used to have a job in a furniture store, where we had to deal with numerous people who were too stupid to measure their door before ordering a sofa......

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My weight hasn't impacted my periods so much as my activity level has. 

 

Regardless of weight, I've been fairly regular, however when I am more active, my cramps are usually lighter and my heavy flow days are usually fewer. 

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My weight hasn't impacted my periods so much as my activity level has. 
 
Regardless of weight, I've been fairly regular, however when I am more active, my cramps are usually lighter and my heavy flow days are usually fewer. 
That's such a good point, thank you!
Looking back, I think I observed this as well, especially when I exercise my core I have less cramps (well, less period related cramps anyway)
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I have the oddest period weight pattern.

 

Everybody always says weight gain before and during is normal. For me, the day before my period and the day after the last day of my period will be 5-10lbs. Now I'm a big girl so percentagewise that's not crazy. But it is frustrating. I'm up 6lbs from a week ago and my period ended a day ago. During my period I was up only 3lbs and I thought "hey that's not so bad" Happens every single time, feel like I've been losing the same 10lbs all year. 

 

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15 hours ago, Doe said:

Everybody always says weight gain before and during is normal. For me, the day before my period and the day after the last day of my period will be 5-10lbs.

For me, it is the first and second day of my period that I lose the weight again (around 5lbs), even on a Mirena. The number of toilet-visits during those days are super-annoying, so it is easy to see that it really is water-weight. 

 

Considering tracking, are you using something that shows a long-term graph? I heard that it is much easier to see the big picture if you actually plot a few months' data instead of just looking at the numbers.

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4 hours ago, Waanie said:

Considering tracking, are you using something that shows a long-term graph? I heard that it is much easier to see the big picture if you actually plot a few months' data instead of just looking at the numbers.

Yep I've  tracked my weight and cycle for about a year now. Been bouncing between the same 10lbs for the past 5 months. 

 

 

 

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Im a little late to the topic but I have the opposite experience as OP. Once I reach a certain point up in weight (about 230-240 lbs) mine stop.  Once I lose about 10-20 lbs they start back slowly and get heavier as I get lighter.  It's been a long time since I was a healthy weight, so I can't speak to what happens once I reach that point though. 

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54 minutes ago, fitbyforty said:

Im a little late to the topic but I have the opposite experience as OP. Once I reach a certain point up in weight (about 230-240 lbs) mine stop.  Once I lose about 10-20 lbs they start back slowly and get heavier as I get lighter.  It's been a long time since I was a healthy weight, so I can't speak to what happens once I reach that point though. 

 

Thats interesting.  My weight probably topped out at around 210 lbs at my heaviest and I know that I still had periods but I can’t honestly say if they were any heavier/lighter than when I was less overweight.  It would be really interesting to know if they lightened as you got closer to your goal weight. 

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