For many, irregular periods can feel like a mystery. We’re not always sure why our period isn’t coming when it normally does—or, for those with more extended irregular periods, why it never seems to arrive at a consistent pace. This lack of regularity can easily become a source of anxiety, leading to worries about pregnancy or even a lack of fertility, which can be caused by conditions like PCOS.
According to Ayurveda, irregular periods don’t need to be stress-inducing. This ancient system of natural medicine posits that our minds, bodies, spirits and external environments are intimately connected, and that ailments arise from an imbalance between these realms. Irregular periods reflect an underlying imbalance in the body, and understanding the cause of this imbalance and how to address it can empower women to regulate their periods through natural means. By addressing the root cause of imbalances, women can not only improve the strength of their menstrual cycle, but also promote overall wellness and health throughout the mind, body and spirit.
THE CAUSE OF IRREGULAR PERIODS, ACCORDING TO AYURVEDA
DOSHA’S ROLE IN PERIODS
Menstrual irregularities can take on many forms. Some signs of an irregular period include: bleeding or spotting in between periods, unusually heavy menstrual flows, having a period more frequently than once in every 21 days or having a period less frequently than once in every 35 days.
In Ayurveda, the three doshas—Kapha, Pitta and Vata—govern different parts of our cycles. Kapha governs the first part of the cycle, when the endometrium thickens after menstruation; Pitta governs ovulation, when the endometrium continues to thicken with blood vessels; and Vata governs menstruation, when, if the egg is not fertilized, the uterine lining is shed through menstrual blood. More specifically, Vata’s subdosha, Apana Vata, is located in the lower abdomen and dictates the downward flow of waste and menstruation.
Since Apana Vata governs the process of menstruation, it is believed that irregular periods derive from an imbalance of Vata. Whether irregular periods are caused by lifestyle factors like stress or diet, or whether they result from deeper and more complicated conditions like PCOS or anemia, there are a number of Vata-balancing practices that can promote greater regularity and overall menstrual health.
Ashoka is an Ayurvedic herb that is particularly lauded for its benefits for women’s reproductive health. It is a powerful tool for treating heavy menstrual flows, hormonal imbalances, uterine cysts and other symptoms of irregular periods. It can be consumed in the form of a decoction called Ashokarishta, which is created by boiling the bark of an Akosha tree in water and supplemented with nourishing ingredients like jaggery, honey and Haritaki.
GET REGULAR EXERCISE
Exercise is a crucial part of maintaining both one’s overall health and one’s reproductive health, as it helps promote hormone regulation. (However, make sure to take it easy during your actual period, in which it’s important to rest and recover.) In addition, regular exercise helps ensure that one maintains their weight, as weight gain or loss can also influence the menstrual cycle. Yoga is particularly helpful for promoting regular periods.
AVOID CAFFEINE & OTHER STIMULANTS
Since Vata is characterized by airiness and mobility, stimulants like coffee tend to overstimulate Vata. Also try to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, which increase both the Rajas and Tamas gunas and prevent the attainment of harmony within the body and mind. These things might seem intimidating to give up; however, there are a number of Ayurvedic alternatives that help us realize that these substances are not so necessary as they seem.
To start, check out our blogs on Ayurvedic perspectives on coffee and alcohol:
As you can see, while irregular periods may (justifiably) be a cause for concern, an Ayurvedic approach can help address their root imbalances. We believe that, equipped with Ayurvedic tools and wisdom, women’s health need not be a mystery—it’s something we can take into our own hands.