I see questions about menstruation during Keto on many of the FB groups and pages that I follow. Also, I personally have experienced some menstrual issues since going Keto 2 years ago, so early in the process I did some research. I am going to try to break this down as simply as possible. Please keep in mind that I am not a Dr so I am merely passing on what I have learned in my own personal experience while reading and asking questions on my own. Many women, especially those who have been overweight for several years, notice some big changes in their cycle when they switch to a ketogenic lifestyle. They begin to bleed heavier and longer! On the onset this sounds terrible, but stay with me. When you learn why, you will have found yet another great reason to eat this way. Long story short…our bodies produce estrogen in order to support a healthy pregnancy. Every month, estrogen will signal the growth of the lining in your uterus and the maturation of an egg right before you ovulate. This estrogen is mostly produced in your ovaries but a little is produced in your adrenal glands and fat tissue as well. So, as you can see, it does serve a very important function….but too much estrogen is a bad thing. How do we end up with too much estrogen? Birth control pills and chemicals that we unknowingly put into our bodies are 2 of the biggest offenders. Plastics, foods, fragrances and medicines can contain chemicals that imitate the hormone estrogen. This, along with the estrogen our bodies already produce, can cause a surplus of it in our bodies. Excess estrogen is stored in several places, but mostly in our fat cells. As our fat cells begin to shrink, this estrogen gets released into our bodies until it can work itself all of the way out. When the estrogen is released, we may temporarily exhibit the signs of estrogen dominance that are listed above. We were probably already showing them to a certain extent but when the estrogen breaks loose from the fat, it gets sort of “flooded” into our bodies increasing the above symptoms in some people. To sum it up, as you shrink your fat cells, the estrogen is released causing the upset in your menstrual cycle. You will possibly experience longer, heavier periods. How long this phase lasts depends on how much estrogen your body has socked away. Why does keto cause this when other diets don’t? This is just another bit of confirmation that Keto has a direct effect on FAT CELLS!!! I realize that heavier, longer periods are AWFUL! One month, I bled for 3 weeks…UGH! However, when I learned what was really going on inside, I was willing to pay that price in order to get rid of that dangerous excess estrogen. After all, too much estrogen causes a whole host of health problems including cancer. No, thank you! For the most part, I have evened out and the symptoms are waning…this should be the case for you as well. Be patient and allow your body to heal.
As I have stated before, I try to keep my blog posts on the shorter side and to the point, but this topic is a very critical one that I may revisit in the future. In the mean time, I encourage you to read up on this and educate yourself. As you drop pounds, and become more healthy, people are going to ask you questions and want to mimic what you are doing. Use this as an opportunity to help people who may not have otherwise stumbled upon this opportunity. That puts you in an excellent position to educate and encourage them to begin keto. I have found that when women find out that they can correct hormonal issues through keto, they are very interested in hearing more. Together we can make our little corners of the world more healthy and happy!