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Know how weight gain or loss can affect your menstrual cycle

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Most of us either want to lose weight or gain weight. You probably want to lose weight because you want to slip into your old clothes that have been stuffed in your wardrobe for a while now. If that’s not the reason behind your motive to start your weight loss-journey then it’s because your doctor scared you off by listing the diseases that you can probably have once you become overweight. Similarly, weight gain is a dream for those who are too thin. As you go on a weight loss or weight gain journey, be prepared to see changes in your menstrual cycle.

To explore the link between weight and menstrual cycle, HealthShots connected with Dr Chetna Jain, director department, obstetrics-gynaecology, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals,Gurugram.

weight and menstrual cycle
Changes in weight affect your menstrual cycle. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Normal menstrual cycle

If your menstrual cycle is between 21 and 34 days, it is considered to be normal. If you have a menstrual flow that lasts for over 7 days, or if you feel the need to change your sanitary pad every two hours, it is considered to be heavy flow. Dr Jain says blood loss that is more than 80 ml in a cycle is also considered to be heavy. A regular sanitary pad holds 15 to 20 ml blood while a regular menstrual cup holds about 25 ml. As for a regular tampon, it holds about 5 ml blood. Knowing this, women can figure out menstrual loss. Using more napkins or often getting up at night for a change or soiling bed linen suggest heavy periods.

Weight gain and menstruation

When women gain weight, it’s not just the physical aspects of your body that undergo changes. Your periods also get altered. The expert explains that excess fat in the body produces large quantities of oestrogen, so ovulation stops and periods get delayed. This is commonly seen in women with Polycystic Ovarian Disease, low thyroid, or weight gain due to high calorie diet (ways to treat PCOS).
Dr Jain says that a good body mass index (BMI) for Asian women is between 19 to 23. Though BMI may not be the best way to predict obesity, it is an easy inexpensive method which you can do it home.

Weight loss and menstruation

Sometimes, women are very thin or lose weight due to anxiety, anorexia, excess exercising and dieting (signs of over exercising). If their BMI is below 19, they may have estrogen deficiency. This in turn can lead to scanty or no periods, says the expert. Low estrogen in the body means that you can end up with:

• Weak bones and fractures
• Hair fall
• Dry skin
• Lack of libido or sexual desire.

weight and menstrual cycle
Your period might get delayed due to weight gain. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Tips to have healthy menstrual cycle

For a healthy menstrual cycle, make sure that your BMI is between 19 to 23. Here’s what you can do!

• Do regular exercises preferably weight training.
• Low glycemic index food will help in weight loss for obese women.
• Thin women need to gain weight by increasing calories and protein intake.
• Correction of PCOS will need help of a gynaecologist and a nutritionist.
• Yoga and correct nutritious foods will help to correct menstrual irregularities.

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