How gaining or losing weight can affect your menstruation

Your menstrual cycle can be affected positively or negatively by gaining or losing weight. It could make your periods less frequent or even stop.

Your menstrual cycle can be affected positively or negatively by gaining or losing weight. A change in weight, for instance, could make your periods less frequent or even stop altogether, change them from irregular to regular, or both. It depends not just on how much you gain or lose but on where you started.

The length of a typical menstrual cycle ranges from 24 to 38 days, with 28 days being the average. A normal period lasts between two and seven days, with an average of five days. Your periods are more likely to be irregular if you are overweight or underweight.

How weight affects your period

Being underweight or overweight can alter your menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle is a result of a complex interaction between your ovaries and your brain.

Your weight and the amount of fat in your body affect your hormone levels. You may skip periods if you are underweight or have too little body fat. Additionally, having too much fat can cause heavy or missed periods. Your menstrual cycle may also be affected by rapid weight changes.

In the event that you are underweight or extremely overweight and not bleeding, accomplishing a solid weight will probably restart your normal period.

Effects of Weight gain

There are several ways that gaining weight can affect your menstrual cycle. Your periods may change if you started out at a normal weight and gain weight that puts you in the overweight or obese category. Gaining weight could help you regulate your cycles if you are underweight and not getting your period.

Infrequent Periods:

Women who were normal weight then gained enough pounds to become overweight can begin to have infrequent periods. Increasing your body’s fat stores (also known as adipose tissue) leads to a hormonal imbalance that can stop ovulation. Adipose tissue produces extra estrogen that can hinder ovulation and cause missed periods.

A common cause of missed periods in overweight women is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS can hinder ovulation and cause you to miss periods.

The greater your BMI (particularly in the obese range over 35), the more likely you are to miss your period. It is even possible to stop bleeding altogether, a condition known as secondary amenorrhea.

Heavier Periods:

Women who are obese are more likely to experience heavy periods and abnormal uterine bleeding. Heavy menstrual bleeding is defined as bleeding that lasts longer than seven days or is very heavy. Untreated heavy menstrual bleeding can lead to iron deficiency anemia, a common blood problem that causes fatigue and weakness.

Effects of Losing Weight

For women who are obese or overweight and have irregular cycles or heavy menstrual bleeding, losing weight can help your periods become lighter and regular. However, losing too much weight isn’t good either.

Being underweight can cause you to not have a period. This commonly occurs in competitive athletes and women with eating disorders.

Light and Infrequent Periods

The more weight you lose and the faster you lose it, the more likely your period will be affected. If you lose weight from significant calorie restriction and strenuous exercise, it may cause a stress response that alters your hormone levels, causing your periods to be lighter and less frequent.


If you lose too much weight, you may stop having periods altogether. When you do not have a period for three months (and are not pregnant), it is known as amenorrhea.

Being underweight causes a change in hormone levels, including a drop in estrogen. This interrupts ovulation and causes you to miss your period. If you do not ovulate, you cannot get pregnant. In addition to causing infertility, lower estrogen levels are harmful to your bone health.

Other symptoms of amenorrhea include:

  • Acne
  • Excess facial hair
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Vision changes


Having regular periods is a good indicator of relative hormonal balance in your body. Both the extremes of being very underweight or very overweight result in hormonal imbalances that stop your periods and over time can lead to serious health issues.

If you experience abnormal menstrual bleeding, or irregular cycles, or have stopped getting your period altogether, talk to your gynaecologist.

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