Why a Vegan or Plant-Based Diet Can Be a Problem for Periods

A vegan or exclusively plant-based diet can make periods lighter and less painful but it can also cause irregular periods due to impaired ovulation and low progesterone.

The problem is not that phytoestrogens cause high estrogen. In fact, phytoestrogens have a generally anti-estrogen, period-lightening effect. The main problem with a vegan diet is that is can cause long-term depletion of important women’s health nutrients such as zinc, iodine, vitamin A, and taurine.

The following are my observations based on 25 years with patients. If you’ve been vegan for more than a year, I encourage you to share your experience in the comments.

Going off dairy can be good for periods

A vegan diet can make periods lighter and less painful and most of that benefit can be attributed to stopping cow’s dairy. Dairy typically makes periods heavier and more painful because A1 casein can cause a mast cell and histamine response. Dairy and gluten (and sometimes eggs) can also worsen endometriosis but the fact that cow’s dairy (and sometimes eggs) are bad for endometriosis does not mean that all animal protein is bad for endometriosis or that eggs are bad for periods in general.

 👉 Tip: A2 dairy such as goat and sheep dairy is usually fine for periods.

Phytoestrogens make periods lighter

The phytoestrogens in grains, seeds, and legumes (especially soy) can make periods lighter and lengthen the follicular phase. Why? Because they are weaker than own stronger estrogen (estradiol), and so shelter us from estrogen.

Phytoestrogens are essentially “anti-estrogen,” which in moderation, is a good thing.

In excess (as might occur with an exclusively plant-based diet), phytoestrogens can lengthen cycles, reduce progesterone, or in some cases, suppress ovulation altogether.

From the comments: A few of you mentioned heavier periods on a vegan diet, which I  attribute to low progesterone or a deficiency of zinc, iron, vitamin A, and/or iodine.

Nutrient deficiencies from a vegan or plant-based diet

An exclusively plant-based diet can deplete nutrients. According to registered dietitian Valeria Burnazov, the following nutrients are either missing or low in plant foods.

Nutrients that are not present in plant foods:

  • preformed vitamin A
  • creatine
  • vitamin B12
  • carnosine
  • taurine
  • heme iron
  • EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids
  • vitamin D3
  • vitamin K2 (MK-4 subtype)

Nutrients that are low in plant foods:

  • zinc
  • iodine
  • methionine
  • leucine
  • choline
  • glycine
  • coenzyme Q10
  • active vitamin B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate)
  • vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

It can take at least a year to deplete reserves of nutrients such as vitamin A, a make-or-break nutrient for period health. Having the more active form of the enzyme (encoded by the BCMO1 gene) that converts beta carotene to vitamin A is why some women can stay relatively healthy on a plant-based diet.

👉 Tip: Bumpy skin on the back of the arms (keratosis pilaris) is a sign of vitamin A deficiency.

Zinc is depleted more quickly than vitamin A and zinc deficiency can impair ovulation and cause skin problems.

 👉 Tip: If you’re vegan and having trouble with your periods, you could try what I call an “ovulation cocktail for vegans,” which is zinc plus iodine to support ovarian function.

Nutrient deficiencies are less likely to occur with a vegetarian or partly plant-based diet. Even a moderate amount of nutrient-dense animal food such as goat cheese and eggs can make a huge difference to periods.

Dr Lara Briden

422 thoughts on “Why a Vegan or Plant-Based Diet Can Be a Problem for Periods”

  1. I have been eating a vegetarian diet for three years and over the past year and a half, my period only comes every so often. Even when I do get it it’s nothing like it was before my plant based diet.

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  2. Hello,

    I have read some of the comments on here, and felt called to share my own experience. I firstly would like to share that I am not an expert when it comes to the health/holistic health field. Or in women’s health. Or menstrual cycles. I haven’t had formal education on any of these topics, even if they are some of my interests.

    I started a vegan diet July 2016 (no meat, fish, dairy, eggs or honey), initially for the animal rights aspect. The more I spoke to people, and from my own experiences in volunteering for environmental groups, the more my reasons slowly became about the environment too. In the last couple of years this has rounded into the health and well-ness areas as well.

    Since then I have begun to incorporate more fish into my diet, as well as eating eggs occasionally. I also use little amounts of honey, but mostly for it’s medicinal purposes. I have also eaten some meat a couple of times in the last few years, but not sure if this has had huge affects on my health for they were so sporadic. There was a time when I ate butter and cheese, to begin with just ordinary supermarket butter for that was all that was available in the house I was living in (I was living in a work exchange situation therefore didn’t pay for my own food), and over time began to eat more organic butter and cheese. I was curious to see if butter/dairy had any effects on my cycle.

    MY SYMPTOMS:

    I experience cramps, fatigue, mental fogginess, slight breast tenderness, slight anxiety and depression, lower back pain and the occasional headache. The severity of each symptom has shifted a lot in the last few years, heck, since I started bleeding. I am aware having these symptoms means there are imbalances in my body, and I am mindfully observing them, and actively exploring what they mean.

    AS FOR WHETHER OR NOT VEGANISM WORKS FOR ME-
    When I was vegan I had very little knowledge about wholesome/holistic nutrition. I didn’t know about the importance of having some healthy fats in your diet. I’d felt disconnected about the drastic affects of refined sugar. I’d still drink coffee from time to time knowing I was sensitive to caffeine.

    All I knew was that it pained (still does) me to see the suffering caused by the meat industry, and because of that it was difficult to put animal flesh into my body. The meat would feel like toxins in my body, and I’d feel heavy in my tummy and in general.

    However, cutting out animal products wasn’t a simple solution either- a lot of the earth’s soil is depleted of nutrients or toxic due to the amount of pesticides and herbicides being used to grow the fruit and vegetables.
    So much of organic food and ‘healthier’ alternatives are wrapped in plastic packaging, going out to landfill. Financially, I also couldn’t really afford buying organic food all the time.

    WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

    People may eat more vegetables and legumes and nuts and seeds, cut down their sugar intake, eat more ‘natural’ fats, minimise or cut out caffeine and alcohol (depending on your own body intolerances and sensitivities of course), but how about if those foods include harmful toxins and chemicals?

    And how about your sleep? The effects of environmental and digital pollution? Do you incorporate any form of body movement/exercise in your life? What is the state of your mind? How do you respond to stress or conflict in your life? Do you have people around you that are supportive, kind and inspiring? Do you have any moments in your day when you feel calm and sit in stillness (doesn’t have to be in meditation).

    HOLISTIC HEATLH:

    What I’m getting at is that holistic health and living isn’t just about your diet- it’s (a huge) part of it, but it’s also about a multitude of things. For example:

    When I was vegan, I felt a lot better knowing I wasn’t contributing to animal cruelty and that I was mindful about buying things in plastic packaging. I was volunteering for environmental groups and felt I was ‘helping’ the planet. I was surrounded by like-minded people.
    However, I had a toxic relationship to sugar, to social media and digital consumption in general, and was in a job that was gradually depleting me. Even though we had common interests, in the end a lot of the people I knew around this time I couldn’t relate to on a deep level. Also, I ended up being burnt out from the environmental activism work I did.

    These days I am cultivating nourishing daily practices such as meditation, yoga and regular body movement. I am slowly prioritising my sleep and going to bed earlier/having no tech after dinner. I eat organic as much as possible. I invest in herbal/natural medicines rather than rely on pharmaceuticals. I practice mindfulness during my day. I practice communicating compassionately. I am exploring making my own foods at home such as ferments, hummus, dairy-free milk, bread etc. I am investing in getting training around my interests (as you guessed it: sustainability and holistic health). However, I wouldn’t be considered ‘vegan’, for I eat fish and eggs. I don’t always eat organic. I do eat soy from time to time.

    IN RELATION TO MY PERIOD:

    These days my periods are regular, anywhere between 26-29 days (on average 27 days). It is consistent with heavier bleeding on the first two days, and lighter on the last 3 days- it is usually 5 days long. I DO experience cramps, lethargy, sensitivity in my moods and temper, and I slow rigghhht down- mentally and physically. I experience a mild sense of anxiety and depression days before and the first two days of my period. I am aware these may be seen as normal, but doesn’t have to happen.

    In saying that, my period has always been regular. I don’t remember ever missing a month, if I did, it was very rare. I’m not on birth control, or any artificial hormones. I don’t resonate with this, nor do I have any severe symptoms that needs temporary pharmaceuticals to regulate or ‘help’ me. I haven’t take painkillers for… at least 2, maybe 3 years. Maybe more (I seriously can’t remember the last time…). I have to say I’ve been tempted a couple of times…

    In many ways I feel very fortunate, for I know there are menstruators out there who suffer greatly, and DO have to turn to painkillers or birth control, or not aware of the alternatives to what they are currently being told by their doctors/family/friends. I recognise I have many privileges that many don’t have, and because of this I’m able to include more holistic approaches to my overall health and well-being. It doesn’t erase the validity of what I’m going through, but I felt it important to also acknowledge this.

    I could really go on and on, but I shall wrap it up here. I wish you clarity and trust in your intuition to explore what your period and diet and lifestyle means for you.

    🙂

    Reply
  3. A little late to the conversation, but just wanted to share my experience as a long term vegan (10+ years) I realize it may not be for everyone, but for me personally, going vegan has helped the discomfort of my period. I no longer get terrible cramps, breast pain, acne, or heavy bleeding. My cycle is regular and mostly symptom free. I do take a daily D2, EPA, B-12, and a ZMST supplement. But I don’t seem to have suffered any ill effects from Being vegan. No judgement to anyone who does not choose that lifestyle. Just wanted to say that it can work and be beneficial to some!

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  4. I have stupidly only just put two and two together but since becoming Vegan almost 3 years ago, my periods have been very irregular and a much shorter cycle (anywhere between 16-24 days). My periods are heavy and last a good 5 days. Obviously, I am finding this very frustrating but really want to avoid any medication to control my cycle. My diet is very healthy and varied and a recent blood test showed no deficiencies. My doctor suggested it was my body returning to normal after breastfeeding for 2 years but that was another 2 years ago now so surely that can’t be the reason. I know you can’t give me answers but hopefully through your research someone in a similar situation to me may benefit in the future.

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  5. I feel that you are uneducated about vegan nutrition. Vitamin D? Vitamin A? Like vegans wouldn’t be in the sun, and like they wouldn’t consume the numerous amounts of vitamin A-rich veggies and fruits?

    My endometriosis has gotten a million times better, only since going vegan.

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  6. I am a predominately plant based vegan. I have to be soy free and gluten free due to allergies. The only troubles I have on my period are when I haven’t planned my meals well and I am not getting enough iron rich foods + vitamin C. Vit C helps you to absorb iron so it’s a handy trick. Normally the week before I load up on iron rich foods and cut back on caffeine if I’ve been drinking more. I focus on keeping caffeine and hour before or after a meal.

    Low good cholesterol runs in my family so I also have to be mindful of that. If I don’t workout, daily, I can get very sleepy. This doesn’t have to be more than 15 min, but it’s necessary for my cholesterol levels.

    I had a lot of troubles with deficiencies when I first went vegan because I didn’t do my research. I didn’t workout much and I ate crap. Now that I have researched where to get these vitamins and I workout, I am fine.

    If you have questions, please feel free to reach out. My boyfriend is also a plant based vegan bodybuilder so we get asked quite a lot of questions.

    Reply
  7. Hello! I have been vegan for 4 years and I’m 16 about to turn 17! I got my period maybe 3 times and then lost it, what does this mean?

    Reply
    • there are so many possible reasons to not get your period. What does your doctor say?
      Also, please have a look at my book Period Repair Manual.

      Reply
      • My doctor is having me talk with a nutritionist but other then that she just said I should take in more calories. I also got blood work done and everything came back perfect so I don’t know what the problem would be.

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  8. Hi, Im vegan since 2016, don’t eat meat and dairy since 2012 when was 45 years old. I had a regular periods until I went to premenopausal period February 2019 at age 52. I start irregular bleeding for two month, but it was stopped with Progestins. But i had bad side effects of progestins, like blur vision, vertigo, even confusion. After that I didn’t have a period for three month, then I have again regular 5 days period and month later I start bleed again over two weeks right now. Im afraid to take progestins because of side effects I had. Doctor said, this time I’ll prescribe natural progesterone. What is your opinion?

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  9. Hello all 🙂 I have followed this thread for a long time and thought I would comment.
    I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, EBV, as well as general hormone dysregulation due to complex PTSD – so reproductive and adrenal hormone issues. Or I did in the past. This meant that I actually went years without a period. And when they did return, it was sporadic. During that time, I did eat animal products.
    It wasn’t until I managed my stress that my periods normalized. This happened progressively over the course of two years, and during this time I switched to a vegan diet, for other reasons.
    My periods are now extremely regular, probably more regular than they have ever been. I have a lot of pain on the first day, which shows me that I still have some progesterone-estrogen balance issues to optimize.
    But in summary, for me the most important aspect was actually lifestyle and stress. As long as I make sure I’m getting enough B and iron, the diet is actually not so relevant. And one could even say it was helpful, as my periods are more regular than they were with animal products in my diet.

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  10. My periods used to be very irregular, ranging from 35 to more than 80 days. That led me to be diagnosed with a thyroid issue, but my periods continued to be ridiculously irregular even after my thyroid hormones were stabilized. Since I became a vegan, my cycles have become much more regular, lasting between 30 and 32 days. I haven’t noticed any changes in length or pain levels, but those have never bothered me before so I’ve not paid attention.
    I am aware of the need of being careful of nutrients, so my diet has zinc and iron in it, as well as other minerals and vitamins. My last blood work showed normal levels of iron. I supplement with B12 (obviously) and vitamin D.

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    • yes, any amount or kind of animal product can be helpful. Fish, or goat or sheep dairy which are easier to digest.

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  11. Vegan 2 years. My periods are regular ( like clockwork ) and are light ( first day the heaviest ). They last 5 days.

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  12. I usually dont comment, but I beg you to reconsider your birth control. The Depo shot is so so dangerous. other birth controls sort of pause the effect our natural estrogen and progesterone has on maintaining or increasing bone density, but the depo actively sequesters calcium out of your bones and cause significant lose of bone density. which can cause early onset osteoporosis. my sister was on it and now her knees buckle under her, they cannot support her weight. she has a bruise on her hip that has never healed for over 3 years. she was only on the depo for 6 months. and still has knee problems to this day. I really think its the worst form of birth control. serious side effects include: mental/mood changes, (such as new or worsening depression), changes in sexual interest or ability, swelling of the ankles or feet, bone pain, unusual changes in vaginal bleeding (such as continuous spotting, sudden heavy bleeding), persistent nausea or vomiting, severe stomach/abdominal/pelvic pain, unusual weakness or tiredness, or seizures. there are probably other side effects.

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  13. I am going to share my personal story with a mostly plant based diet. I was vegetarian for 3 years. I have always had extremely painful periods, even in high school. And when I was vegetarian I did notice my periods became more painful. I started eat meat again my first year in college because it was impossible to maintain a healthy weight and not starve when I wasn’t cooking my own food. after that I did a little bit better, but i still didn’t eat that much meat. after about 3 years I lost my period, I didn’t have a period for almost 3 months…which was weird because I wasn’t sexually active. finally I got it back and it was extremely painful. a year later after i got married I started transitioning again to go back to being vegetarian we would go weeks without eating any meat or animal products except maybe cheese because my husband loves cheese. I asked him if he would ever consider being vegan and he said no. I really though being vegan was a good thing. But that whole time I didn’t connect the fact that my mostly plant based diet was making my luteal phase longer and longer. Every single month I would go out and buy pregnancy test and they were negative. I couldn’t figure out why my period was always late. I started have extreme abdominal pain, I had terrible yeast infections. everything was painful. One day I just decided to google why are my periods late if im not pregnant. I found out that i was probably iodine deficient. no surprise there my husband hated fish. So I immediately started eating more fish. Twice a week. I also found the fertility friday podcast and listened to an episode with Sally Fallon and she talked about cholesterol and how it is extremely important to make hormones. And the only way to get cholesterol is from animal fats, animal foods. I immediately started cooking in butter. Then I learned about grass fed butter and grass fed animal products. bone broth, and pasture raised eggs. It only took 3 months for my cycle to normalize to 27 days after introducing grass fed butter. I still have problems with my cycle because I have endometriosis. but it makes a lot of sense that ovulation is negatively affected from a plant based diet. I experienced it myself. I think some peoples bodies can handle a beating more than others…but because of my nutrition as a child (i was vegetarian in high school), my genetics, and lots of other factors my body couldn’t handle it and after 6 years of eating mostly plant based my body started shutting down.

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  14. I have long studied the effects of food on my body for various reasons.
    No meat… regardless if i have cow leche or not will mean longer cycles… like 35 to 45 days apart.. and the periods lasting a week or more (lighter in consistency…. but i bleed a lot regardless). But i am not exhausted and very awake.
    Eating meat equals shorter cycles 21 to 28 days. The more the shorter. Extremely heavy but lasts two to 2.5 days. I am also tired beyond belief.can sleep two days straight.
    My average period..lets just say the average fl oz the average woman gets in a week is what i get in a day. And that is without meat.
    Increased blood loss equals tired does not surprise me.

    Eating vegan does not make me lose weight. Nor vegetables and fruits. Nor does any exclusive diet.i lose weight better on heavy complex carbohydrate diet combined with a gallon of water per day. Considering the increasing amounts of allergic or intestinal reactions i get to healthy foods such as carrots and mint and soy….
    My body isnt normal.
    Although studies do concur increased depression with vegetarians due to cow dairy. Those who consume meat and dairy are fine. You need food to counteract food and thats a problem that these extreme vegan and keto diets are not taking into consideration. Also…genetics.
    Vitamins and minerals are cyclic.

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  15. I was a strict lacto-vegetarian from birth until I was 20. I started my period at 13 and they were very very heavy. A thick pad an hour heavy. My mom had fibroids at the time so I thought that heavy was normal. My cramps were debilitating. This lasted until I was 20, when coincidentally I started to eat meat. I didn’t make the connection. I was in college and was too busy to think it had anything to do with diet as maybe I was just getting older. I have had normal to light periods ever since.

    I now think I was probably anemic. I took B-12 supplements and knew how to supplement known deficiencies but anemia was something my step-mom suffered, there was no way that could be me. I ate a lot of soy & pasta, but more fruit than vegetables. I didn’t care for the iron-rich vegetables and I wasn’t taking iron supplements. (My entire family, mom, step-mom, dad, grandmother, siblings all lacto-vegetarian or vegan at the time, most still are)

    I am now in my 40s. I became a molecular biologist and that leads to questions from friends- and ensuing research from me. One of my friend’s daughters (13yo) has become anemic with very heavy periods and is basically a pastatarian -high carbs! And it became the question, what is causing the anemia? And is her anemia due to the heavy periods or are they from anemia? It seems to go hand-in-hand, one exasperating the other. We had bloodwork done and it has been narrowed down to simply diet-related anemia, coupled with blood loss every month. We’re supplementing with chlorophyll in the meantime because she doesn’t respond well to iron supplements and she’s adding the occasional burger. We’ll see how it goes. (She is not vegan and is not choosing to avoid meat-she just really likes pasta and cereal. Eating iron-rich veggies is just more offensive than a burger at the moment-so we went that route.)

    Aside from the heavy periods she is also feeling the severe depression from the anemia. Point is if any of you are having heavy periods (or depression!), don’t simply assume it’s normal, or it’s hormonal, consider your iron levels and adjust diet accordingly.

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  16. Hi Casey, I don’t know a lot about many old traditional cultures except the beautiful traditional peoples of Australia. They were certainly not vegan by any stretch of the imagination and whilst they had amazing fishing and hunting skills with the very basic tools they had, it was still not easy to catch a kangaroo. They were amazing farmers and on a very large scale and always had plant material to eat. The book Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe is a wonderful read if get the opportunity to read it. There is no one best diet, each individual based on their make up needs to work out what makes them feel the best. Every culture has different enzymes which make some foods more digestible for them, so its the balance of foods that may be more important and certainly the quality of the food and the preparation of it- even Weston Price and Sally Fallon would agree with that. Weston Price also advocate plentiful vegies.

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  17. I guess there may be some Biodynamic farms using alternative preparations and some organic farms run that way, but you must know that this is not the mainstream farming method. Please refer to Pastoral Input trends in New Zealand: A Snapshot released by the New Zealand government, Ministry for primary industries. “Over the past 50 years, use of fertiliser has increased, particularly the application of nitrogen between
    1990 and 2004 (Figure 19).” I am happy to add that they also mention that fertiliser (phosphate and potassium) use went down substantially between 2002 -2009 with the exception of nitrogen, which increased. The kg per hectare use is listed if you are interested. Meat production and dairy farming in New Zealand is not fertiliser free.

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  18. How much land do grass grazed cattle require and how many synthetic fertilizers are used to make the grass grow quickly?
    Also if grass, that is healthy enough for grazing cattle, grows on this land, I’m sure other things can grow there as well. What was there when the traditional people owned the land?

    You quoted one article (above) as to how one family has created a niche market for their grass fed meat but have ignored mountains of evidence on how much land this would require, or the statistics of how many cattle are factory farmed and grain fed compared to grass fed. It would be lovely if you could look more broadly at all the evidence.

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  19. Hi Lara,
    I am following up on my previous requests and also commenting on your response to a comment, where you state “And as for the list of “Nutrients found only in animal foods,” that’s just a fact, I’m afraid. I don’t see that it requires a reference.
    The list of “Nutrients that are low in plant foods” is a bit more open to debate. It could perhaps be better phrased “Nutrients that are found in higher concentration in animal foods.”

    Surely as a practitioner you are using ‘evidence’ to make all statements and not just ‘making it up.’ ALL nutritional claims need to be based in fact and not made up or copied from someone else’s blog. Your list is not correct and not factual. From what I can see Taurine is found in non-animal products although in nanomoles rather micromoles with the exception of seaweed which seem to have a much larger qty. I need to look into the others nutrients.

    1. Pasantes-Morales, H. (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico), Quesada, O., Alcocer, L. Olea, R.S. (1989). Taurine content in foods. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States. Nutritional Reports international. Vol. 40 No.4.
    2. Pasantes-Morals., H. Flores., R. (1991) Taurine Content of Mexican beans. Journal of food composition and analysis, V.4(4) p.322-328
    3. Dawczynski, C. Schubert, R., & Jahreis, G. (2007). Amino acids, fatty acids, and dietary fibre in edible seaweed products.

    Could you please send me the studies you based your list on? If there are no studies you have used please just say so, but then don’t just say it is fact if you have not researched it.

    Also, the study you list for the importance of choline, particularly in pregnancy, is written by Emma Derbyshire who, consulted for and advised: The Meat Advisory Panel, Marlow Foods (Quorn), the Health Supplement Information Service and the British Egg Information Service. (very serious vested interests). The study it references in regard to the increased quantity of choline required for pregnancy was actually part funded by the Egg Nutrition Center, The Beef Checkoff, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Have you even read the quality of this study??? Yet you very quickly state supplementation required, on very shaky evidence.

    Our student clinic has had many cases of dysfunctional menstruation and all that I have seen have not been vegan or even vegetarian. Maybe your focus could be on healthy diets rather that the unhelpful way you have managed this vegan issue on your blog.
    Yes, a vegan needs to carefully construct their diet and supplement some nutrients but to my mind that is no different to rest of the community whose diets can be very destructive whilst including meat and dairy products. Almost no one can go wrong eating more vegetables.

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    • Having read through comments below and via personal observation, sadly a “vegan” diet does not appear to always have a positive impact on psychological health. As much as the idea of eating a plant based diet is appealing, I have noticed that cutting out animal products often leads to dogmatism and aggression towards fellow humans, regardless of its effect on female reproductive health…or the environment. Perhaps every extreme is a deception with the truth somewhere in-between.

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      • The OP has asked about vegan diets and then only expressed any interest in the stories of short term vegans who fail to thrive and stop being vegan. I wonder why she has not asked the people who have expressed that they are healthy, fertile and long term vegans more about their diets to find out what works for them? I expect it is because she isn’t actually very interested in hearing those stories and/or does not believe them as her agenda appears to be that a vegan diet is never healthy? I think that she could potentially learn things if she made more inquiries about what is working that could help her clients who wished to remain vegan. From my perspective it is pretty annoying to read this whole thread and see that obvious bias. Perhaps what you see as aggression here is frustration? I am a happy and mostly un-dogmatic person/long term vegan in my real life but this thread makes me feel grumpy! I just see a lot of confirmation bias.

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  20. Some of these vegans leave comments that make a “plant-based diet” tempting, but then all we need to do to come back to reality is to look at traditional, non-industrialized populations (for whom having lots of vegetable variety in the diet was often impossible), such as Dr. Weston A. Price studied. No vegans!

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  21. Hi Lara! I have abstained from commenting on this article for almost a year now and have just followed the comments, but I’m hoping that my story will be able to help someone.
    I decided to turn to a vegan diet in March 2017 after having very painful, heavy periods with lots of uncomfortable bloating. I couldn’t even wear tampons anymore due to the pain and bloating. At the same time I also stopped my birth control (nuva ring ~2.5 yrs) as it began to make sex painful. Before the ring I was not on birth control for about 1-2 years, and was briefly on the pill before that. Within a month there was a noticeable difference in my periods. No bloating at all and my periods were virtually painless. This continued for about 8 months.
    I started graduate school in August 2018 and that’s when I also incorporated eggs back into my diet. Around February 2019 I started getting longer periods that sometimes would happen twice a month. Other than the period pain my periods were always regular and on time, even before birth control. I always knew when they were coming. Now I was having more frequent periods than before.
    Around April or May 2019 I started spotting for long periods of time before and after my periods, which were now lighter. The spotting was like old blood, not bright red. I went to the gynecologist in August 2019 who said that my cervix bled even when touched. Their only recommendation was to go back on birth control which I didn’t want to do. All my blood tests and Pap smear were normal. I also went to a rheumatologist and nothing ever came of my tests and they didn’t reach out. They also told me to go back on birth control.
    I now eat fish but only occasionally eat red meat. These days I start spotting for up to TWO WEEKS before my period, and I don’t even know when I actually have a period because it’s almost indistinguishable from the spotting. For example, I began spotting on 1/28 and only today, 2/3 have started feeling some period cramps and bloating, but no bright red blood or medium/heavy flow. Occasionally there is some bright red blood, but most of the time it’s brown. There is also maybe 3-5 days when I am not spotting at all and my discharge is normal.
    I am taking zinc daily for about 3 weeks but so far nothing is helping and I don’t know what to do. I’m very frustrated with the healthcare providers in the US. I know this is a long shot, but any help that you can provide is very, very appreciated. I am also on the lookout for a naturopathic doctor in Austin, Texas if you can recommend someone.

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    • There can be lots of different reasons for spotting, so ideally, you’ll need to find a clinician who can help you.
      But I can say this. One way to try to understand what is happening is to track your temperatures so you know when you ovulate and when your period actually starts–as opposed to spotting. Your real period is at the end of the luteal phase. When your temperatures drop again.

      See Theresa’s patient story in Chapter 5 of Period Repair Manual.

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  22. Thank you this has been the most useful article on the topic! I have been a vegan for a year + now and my last three periods have arrived at abnormal and longer cycle periods with each month – until now when I think my period has abstained all together ..and the reason why I wanted to learn more. I will definitely try the Vitamin E and Zinc+Iodine as I recently tested that these values were low. Otherwise if no improvement perhaps include goats cheese into my diet. Eggs I never want to go back to as I had such bad breast swelling each period which completely stopped after maybe just a month of being off eggs.

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  23. I have been vegan for 2 years now. I will be the first to admit that I have not done it healthily and have fallen into the “junk food vegan” lifestyle, however for the last 6 months I have made better choices. I have not noticed any negative change in my periods. I do have slightly shorter periods, and they are much less painful (no need for painkillers at all anymore), but I have also had a child and changed to using a menstrual cup, so I can’t say which of these are the reason for the changes.

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  24. I don’t trust what you’re saying because of how you ended this. LIVE STOCK if the problem in the world. NOT GRAINS !!!! They have many grain farms because they need to feed the LIVE STOCK !!!! 🤦🏽‍♂️

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    • Not all livestock eats grain. In many parts of the world (including where I now live in New Zealand), livestock eats grass on land where nothing else can grow.

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  25. Hi Lara,
    Thanks for inviting different experiences and comments.
    I turned vegan about 2.5 yrs ago and the first time I did my blood work post a year of being vegan, for the first time in a very long time my Ca and Fe levels were within the normal range without any supplementation.
    I have always had a longer cycle of 35-38 days and that hasn’t changed post turning vegan and my blood flow has remained the same for the most part (5-6 day blood flow). I typically missed one period every year but over the last 2 years I’ve had 12 solid back to back cycles (also suspect lifestyle changes and stress to influence this).
    Overall I feel great post turning vegan but supplement with Vit D3 and B12 as my levels have been very low (even before turning vegan) for the past couple years. I’m struggling with bringing them up into the normal range even with supplements over 2 yrs and I’m not sure if my B12 baseline is just different? Would love your thoughts.
    Are there specific indicators you would like vegans to comment as your try to understand the impact of this diet on women’s hormonal and reproductive health?
    Also, as I step into family planning this year, I am being extra vigilant on the impact of my dietary choices but ensure I eat a wide array of fruits, veggies, greens. grains, nuts & seeds and lentils/pulses to help nourish my body. If you have an watch outs other than those mentioned above, please share them.

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    • If you’re heading into a pregnancy, please think quite seriously about supplementing choline and iodine, which are two key nutrients which are not easy to obtain from a vegan diet and which are important for the development of the baby’s brain.

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  26. Dear AK, I am very glad that you found your balance and your ideal diet. I really never make any “campaign” to convince anyone to embrace veganism. I just defend a more evidence based approach to nutritional information and maybe I get a bit disappointed when I get opinions instead of references. As for your case: the fact that you were not doing well on your vegan diets means basically one thing: that you diet wasn´t well planned. One can eat a very “clean” and yet not well planned diet. That´s it. Or maybe that a vegan diet is just not good for you. It´s not possible to extrapolate epidemiological data from that. Epidemiological studies show a different trend form what Lara has brought here, based on her opinion. And I find that it´s not a good public service to do so. And I care about it, because Lara is such a great author in the field of women´s health and someone I deeply respect. Maybe I got too emotional, and I´m sorry for that, because it´s very frustrating to see what´s happening in these days: on one hand more and more people are embracing plant-based diets, but on the other hand, they are just mistaking a lot of concepts. When I was a teenager, the internet didn´t exist, you had to search a lot to become vegetarian or vegan. Because I did it at that time, and I later studied Nutrition, I see a huge difference from what´s happening now, and it worries me. We are going to have soon new phenomena: obese vegans, or depleted vegans, and we are already seeing it´s happening. Because now, in the web you can find so much garbage and misinformation that it´s very hard to select what to do. Every coach, or maybe someone who had a weekend workshop or maybe even not that, can have an Instagram account or youtube channel and say whatever he thinks like the ultimate truth on Nutrition. And then the ideological choices, for ecology or whatever reason. People choose a “flag” or embrace ideologies very fast, and when it goes wrong, they blame the whole thing instead of analyzing what has happened. So, I deeply apologize if I went too emotional, but I still want to send this single message: it is possible to achieve good general and menstrual health on a well planned, whole foods plant-based diet.

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  27. I happened upon this page entirely accidentally tonight, but I simply had to weigh in here. I’ve got to be honest that your tone of voice, Antonella, seems rather self important, and quite disrespectful toward Dr. Briden, who has kindly welcomed comments from all points of view. It’s hard to see you as credible, to be honest. As a person who was plant based for a number of years, only to end up anemic and nutritionally depleted on so very many levels (low in zinc, copper, iron, and so many other nutrients), and ultimately losing my cycle, I must concur with Dr. Briden. (Also, for the record, during my entire time as a vegan, I was not a vegan “junk food” eater. I was plant based and well varied with nutritionally-dense foods. My diet was ridiculously clean and fully organic.) It was very difficult for me to even consider eating animal products again, but it was life-giving to me in so many ways, once I finally embraced the truth…that I was nutritionally bankrupt as a direct result of my vegan diet. Is it possible to do well long term on a vegan diet? Honestly, the jury is still out for me on the answer to that question. Vegetarian maybe, but veganism, I have my doubts. Either way, we are each entitled to our own opinion. Thus, your grandstanding on Dr. Briden’s website for veganism doesn’t particularly make a vegan lifestyle more appealing. In fact, for me your comments were yet another reminder of one of the things I disliked about veganism…the disrespect for other dietary approaches and dogmatism. Perhaps you will better serve your campaign for veganism by being more thoughtful in your responses in the future, as the doctor has been in her kind responses back to you. For the record, I don’t know Dr. Briden, nor am I a patient of hers, but I do believe she is sharing her truthful observations based upon her vast experience with her patients. One thing I know for sure, is that I went from being a somewhat high strung vegan back to being extremely well-grounded once I added back in some animal products. Although I know your philosophy won’t likely permit you to embrace the notion, I would suspect you might also benefit from reconsidering your own diet. That said, I wish you well, and would also like to send my heartfelt encouragement to those vegans who are not thriving to be honest with themselves and save their bodies from further harm if they do not feel well on any level. Also, have tests done and see if your diet is fulfilling your nutritional needs and adjust accordingly. Our bodies are divinely designed with the most extraordinary feedback mechanism….if we are willing to listen to it. Thank you Dr. Briden for your excellent website and blessings to you all!

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    • Thanks so much for chiming in. Your message briefly went into spam for some reason (which is why you didn’t see it appear immediately), but I rescued it!

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  28. Lara, you don´t seem to have read my comments. For the third time, that is NOT a study, that is an OPINION letter from an author who is linked to the meat industry. And that is your only reference to a long list of unfunded statements about Nutrition. And your answer to precise questions you have been asked by Eva. Let´s let it drop here, really.

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  29. The statement that anyone who doesn´t eat eat eggs should take a choline supplement. And by the way, the references for all the other “missing” nutrients in vegan diets.

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    • And as for the list of “Nutrients found only in animal foods,” that’s just a fact, I’m afraid. I don’t see that it requires a reference.
      The list of “Nutrients that are low in plant foods” is a bit more open to debate. It could perhaps be better phrased “Nutrients that are found in higher concentration in animal foods.”

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  30. Excuse me Lara, but as Registered Dietician with a specialization in Plant Based Diets, I would LOVE to see your references for your statement.

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  31. I am very confused with your comments and advise. You advise against eating eggs, yet only advise vegans to take choline supplements. Many people do not like or eat eggs including meat eaters. So, based on your previous comment, are you suggesting choline supplementation for anyone that does not eat eggs?
    I would also like some feedback on the points I made in regard to the study you posted about choline if possible. I would appreciate a list of the studies you used to create your list of deficiencies for vegans so that I could go though them and better understand why you put these nutrients on such a list.
    Much appreciated.

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    • I don’t advise against eating eggs generally. Eggs are healthy.
      I only make the observation that eggs are another common food sensitivity that can sometimes worsen endometriosis.

      And yes, a choline supplement is a good idea for anyone who cannot eat eggs.

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  32. Eggs might be the best source of choline, but animal choline is converted in a short time, into trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) a cardiovascular risk factor. No wonder it has been found in large amounts in the bloodstream of Paleo dieters. This conversion does not happen with vegetable choline. Again, using an OPINION letter (not a study!) from an author who is openly linked to meat industry, as a base for the assumption that vegans have choline deficiency does not seem a good idea. There is zero evidence for such assumption. The same applies to all the other “missing” nutrients you mention, except, of course B12. But B12 is pretty deficient in general population above 50 years old, because of malabsortion. And the intake of B12 of the general population comes mostly from the B12 supplement given to cattle. So, maybe it´s easier, cheaper, healthier and way more ecological to get our B12 directly from a supplement instead of giving it to animals and then eating them.

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  33. Hi Lara, How can I down load a screen shot of the excel table I made to show vegan choline intake compared to meat eaters choline intake for the comment made on 18th December. This shows that if using Australian recommended portion size, a vegan can get a higher level of choline in their diet compared to meat eater (excluding eggs).
    You have a very long list on nutrients ‘missing’ from vegan diets. Could you please supply the references you used to produce this list. I am a nutrition student and I’m sure I will have vegan clients in the future wanting a great balanced vegan diet. Much Thanks.

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    • I’m not sure how you can load an image, sorry. But you should be able to put a link to online document like a Google spreadsheet.
      For what it’s worth, a comparison like that is probably not very useful if it “excludes eggs.” Eggs are the best source of choline.

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  34. I’ve been vegan for about six years and my periods are perfectly regular, light and pretty much cramp free. They last about 3 days. No other health issues whatsoever!

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  35. I’ve been vegan for about 5 months so not a long time but my periods are lighter and my cycle has gone from 28 days to 30/31.they seem so much shorter that it’s almost scaring me. Is it normal….

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  36. Hi Lara,

    I want to start out by thanking you for all of the word you do in women’s health and all of the valuable information that you share free of cost on your webpage.

    I, like other commenters, could sense your bias against a vegan diet from the beginning of the article. Modern research is continually affirming the excellent results that a whole foods plant based diet has in preventing and even reversing diseases of affluence.

    I have been vegan ~10 years and am extremely happy with my health results. I have regular periods where I bleed for 48 hours, with mild to moderate cramping that lasts about 12 hours.

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  37. Ok this post starts out depressing, I apologize, but it will conclude as positive. My period was always heavy putting me in the hospital from my 11th birthday to my 28th birthday. Gotten my stomach and abdominal region Xrayed several times never finding the cause. I became vegan, and yes the transition period it became unpredictable bleeding twice a month, but I didn’t get the cramps and uncontrollable vomit syndrome. ‘Cyclical vomiting’. Which was violent.
    So after a year or so of vegan clean eating, I went a bit nutty. Ended up having a seizure, the clean eating opened up the real problem, there was a tumor in my left frontal lobe, that had been there since childhood. I got brain surgery, it was oligodendraglioma stage 3, cancer. After proton radiation therapy, and 4-5 rounds of chemotherapy pills and IV, somehow I survived. I actually did not lose my hair, I had an awesome surgeon, young, like skateboarded to work. Promised he’d only shaved where needed. So I didn’t get my period during that treatment time, chemo messes the body up in so many ways. Anyway, stayed vegan, took Alive! Vitamins for women, iron, biotin, vitamin d, E etc. I drank Orgain shakes which are all plant based.
    So after getting checked out by literally all doctors, I’ve got a normal light to medium period, light cramps, I ovulate , could potentially have a baby!? What? If I find someone with stronger genes it’s a possibility, due to my entire family having cancer multiple times and surviving except for one parent.

    So veganism and periods, good or bad? Well for me, it cleared my brain so much it showed the real problem (brain cancer) and by staying vegan and a whole lot of smiling, laughing, learning, working, positivity and believing I would live, it saved my life.

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  38. Been vegan for 3 months and never had heavy periods in the past but now they are almost unmanageable flooding with clots , empty a 50ml menstrual cup every half hour up to 7 times today, and again the same in the fourth day then it stops all at once , very bizarre, eating a whole food plant based diet rich inlegunes nuts seeds and plant milk. Lots of green leafy vegetables no sugar except fruits , x2 cups coffee per day , and the rest herbal teas . Was whole food dairy free before this diet change only difference now is no meat or fish or eggs . I am also 4i so could be a coincidence and the start of menopause , but have no other symptoms. Periods are not painful at all thankfully

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  39. I am intrigued that you bought up choline as an example of a ‘risk’ for a vegan diet. There is so little information about it and what there is, is based on poorly designed studies with few participants.
    Yes, there is an Adequate Intake (AI) but what that is based on is even questioned in the study you provided Wiedeman et al 2018. Only a small depletion-repletion study used to derive these values and was conducted only in men and did not provide information on whether less choline would have been effective, as researchers only studied that one dose. So, if this study used 600mg or more, would this then be the AI? Another study (Fisher et al 2007) determined that repletion from liver/muscle damage is possible on less Choline. Mind you this study is also flawed as 6 men were determined to have liver damage after 10 days on a baseline diet of choline at 550mg/day. The study determined this may be because these men had a much higher choline intake previously, but this was not checked at all, which I find extraordinary as, even as a meat eater that would not be easy to achieve unless you ate liver or eggs every day and overconsumed food according to Australian government serving guidelines.
    Interestingly in this study 32% of participants did not become deficient even on 50mg choline 70 kg body wt 1 d 1 after 42 days of the deficient diet. Not that I would ever suggest this would be healthy. The European Union has determined its AI to be 400mg/day based on the amount needed to replete most of the depleted subjects in the Fisher et al. 2007 study. (Wiedman et al 2018). So is Australia right, or is the European Union right, or do they both really need better studies and more information?
    Most vegans do not start from a depleted position with liver/muscle damage, so to continually try to consume something at this amount does not really make sense to me. It is like continually trying to fill a 3/4 full 500ml bottle with 500ml to get it back to full state.

    I have looked at the 2008 update on choline amounts found in food (Patterson et al 2008).
    If you eat liver (190-430mg per 100g of food) or eggs (270mg per 100g of food so 1 large egg would be 162mg of choline) you could increase choline intake easily. Interestingly you don’t even recommend eggs and how many people eat liver?
    Only a few certain cuts of meat achieve over 100mg of choline per 100g of food. Most sit at around 80mg per 100g of food with port sausages at 67mg beef sausages 51g and chicken nuggets at 41mg per 100g of food. You then have Soybeans at 79.9mg, Flaxseeds 79mg, pisatachios 71mg, amaranth 70mg, Quinoa 70mg, peanut butter 66mg, chickpeas 50.7mg, most beans at around 40-45mg, peas 40.5mg, broccoli 40mg of choline per 100g food. I would rather eat 100g of chick peas to get 50.7 mg of choline than 100g of chicken nuggets to get 41mg of choline, and just think of all the other benefits of chickpeas. There are wonderful vegan sources of choline that provide so many other important nutrients not found in animal foods. Based on this, a meat eater could very easily consume less choline than a vegan, pending on the quality of food they eat. So, from what I can see, it boils down to the quality of the diet.

    I have looked at the serving size and recommended serves a day for the 5 food groups, recommended by ‘eat for health’ here in Australia and have tabled an example of choline amounts.

    NOTE: the screen shot of the excell spread sheet that worked out the choline amounts per serve will copy to the comments. Is there way way I can make this happen?

    You can see that per serving size (for proteins category) the amount of choline per serve: eggs is 1st (324mg), chickpeas is 2nd (76mg) and meat is 3rd (65mg). So if following, Australian serving size guidelines, a vegan would be ahead of a meat eater that does not eat eggs (or liver) (I know a few). The point of this comparison is not to malign animal products, I am not vegan myself, but to point out that balance and quality of a diet is the most important thing NOT is you are a vegan or not – at lease for the example of choline that you bought up. The fact that you would ‘seriously recommend’ all vegans to take choline supplement, in my opinion, is not warranted, or warranted for many meat eaters as well. You do not know enough about the real amount of choline required for each group of the population, let alone individuals (as the few studies done have shown vary greatly), or what long term supplementation would do as there are no long-term studies (for even for a few months) that I could find.

    Thank you for the reference on choline that led me to look at choline further. You have a very long list on nutrients ‘missing’ from vegan diets. Could you please supply the references you used to produce this list. I am a nutrition student and I’m sure I will have vegan clients in the future wanting a great balanced vegan diet taking only supplements where they are warranted.

    Wiedeman, A., Barr, S., Green, T., Xu, Z., Innis, S., & Kitts, D. (2018). Dietary Choline Intake: Current State of Knowledge Across the Life Cycle. Nutrients, 10(10), 1513. doi:10.3390/nu10101513
    Fischer, L. M., daCosta, K. A., Kwock, L., Stewart, P. W., Lu, T.-S., Stabler, S. P., … Zeisel, S. H. (2007). Sex and menopausal status influence human dietary requirements for the nutrient choline. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(5), 1275–1285. doi:10.1093/ajcn/85.5.1275
    Patterson, Y.K.; Bhagwat, A.S.; Williams, R.J.; Howe, C.J.; Holden, M.J. USD Database for The Choline Content of Common Foods, Release 2; Agricultural Research Service: Washington, DC, USA, 2008.

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  40. Concerns about choline deficiency are based on theoretical reasoning, with no described case of such thing in literature. I usually try to avoid supplements with doubtful usefulness. In this case it won’t be harmful, but maybe contributing to spread this myth of generic “deficiencies” in plant based diets? That is a biased view, since an omnivorous diet can be and very often is, pretty deficient in many nutrients. There is no standard omnivorous diet, right? Well, it’s just the same with veg diets. That is why so many people need sound nutritional advice, either in normal or in plant based diets! Again, thank you for your wonderful work with women’s health. But please be less biased towards plant based diets! And the list of “missing” nutrients is so inaccurate that deserves a closer look from you. Thank you for this dialogue anyway!

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  41. Lara, the point is not what I think.
    There are tons of evidence that plant based diets, if correctly planned, are just better than even the mediterranean diet. Period. To give an example, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (which is obviously not an association of vegans nor a youtube influencer) have dozens of specialization courses in Plant Based Nutrition for dietitians, and since 1998 they renew periodically a statement which says that these diets are absolutely healthy in ANY stage of life. There is nothing like that about “Paleo” diets or Keto diets, for a simple reason: they are fad diets with no benefit beyond the fact that, if well planned, are more based on real food and no junk food. On a long term, they are deeply harmful. Or do you think that the AND is receiving fundings by some mysterious vegan lobby? We all know where lobbies are!
    But, to answer your question about choline, this is just another example of how harmful social networks can be: until September, no one knew what it was, nor had ever been interested in its existence.
    However, after the publication in the British Medical Journal of a letter (not a study!) from a researcher who, alarmed by the growing tendency of people to switch to a plant diet raised the problem, choline was in the spotlight for a few days on Facebook.
    According to the author, without eating meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, there is a risk of a lack of this nutrient, which is essential for nervous and muscular function.
    Is this really the case?
    Of course not.
    We are perfectly able to synthesize a portion of choline in our liver, and what we lack we can take it easily from vegetables and from legumes and cruciferous, more than others.
    The paradoxical thing, however, is that choline is a nutrient that should worry not vegans, but those who consume animal derivatives.
    Animal choline is converted in a short time, by the bacterial flora characteristic of non-vegetarians, into a molecule with a threatening name (trimethylamine-N-oxide, TMAO for friends) that can stiffen the walls of blood vessels, promote atherosclerosis and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
    Choline from plants, however, does not rise TMAO levels.
    The variety of vegetables (grains, beans, nuts, oilseeds, vegetables and fruit) you eat throughout the day gives you everything you need – except vitamin B12, which omnivores take from the supplement that is given to the cattle, don´t be fooled into thinking cattle live enough time to produce it in their gut!
    And, oh, forgot to mention: the researcher who wrote the letter int he BMJ is linked to the UK meat industry. As stated at the end of the article, Derbyshire is in fact part of the Meat Advisory Panel, an advisory committee funded by the meat industry. In fact, in the notes to the article, it is possible to read, in the section “Interests in competition”, that Dr. Derbyshire “did not receive any funds to write the article, but is an advisor to The Meat Advisory Panel”.

    For more details on choline:
    Koeth RA, Wang Z, Levison BS, et al. Intestinal microbiota metabolism of L-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis. Nat Med. 2013;19(5):576–585.

    Obeid R, Awwad HM, Keller M, Geisel J. Trimethylamine-N-oxide and its biological variations in vegetarians. Eur J Nutr. 2017;56(8):2599–2609. doi:10.1007/s00394-016-1295-9

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  42. Thanks for this breath of fresh air, Antonella.

    I too have been vegan for a long time, but am now in menopause at 54. However, my daughter who is also vegan has just sustained a super-healthy pregnancy (conceived naturally with no problems), (husband vegan too and a competitive athlete), gave birth to a good sized healthy baby, is fully breastfeeding and at 3 months the baby is in the 99th percentile for growth. BTW my daughter and her husband regularly run marathons and half-marathons – on a vegan diet (although none since baby arrived).

    I am an accredited nutritionist and see a lot of my patients who wish to try a vegan diet for certain conditions, get remarkably well – the thing is, people need to know just how to manage it properly, and as you say, there is a lot of misinformation out there.

    Regarding CHOLINE: First, there is no recommended daily intake for choline – because we just don’t know how much people need. Second, vegans get heaps of it in plants on a normal day. Third, the only people ever seen to be deficient in a way that caused any health problems – were on IV nutrition – not eating normal food – and clearly whatever was in the IV was denatured enough to include no choline. ⠀

    Choline, is, from what I can see, a straw man. A vegan diet is sufficient for all stages of life. If you know how to manage it properly.

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  43. Hi Elaine, Was your daughter a junk food vegan who just did not eat animal products or did she eat a varied whole food plant based diet?

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  44. I have been spending my whole afternoon reading articles back to back on your blog Lara and I must say I am absolutely and utterly loving it, mind blown by all this information which sadly I have realised isn’t taught to young girls… However I just opened this page and find myself greatly disappointed. I have been vegan over 5 years and am beyond tired of the tone most people take towards veganism which is implying that you have to be so much more careful if you are vegan because there is so much you could miss out on if you are vegan. This is absolutely incorrect and misleading. If one was to go the other way (completely carnivore) they would be a million times more unhealthy than a vegan. Just making a point that plants are extremely healthy and crucial for one’s health. The more plants the better. You would miss out on a lot more by not eating plants at all than if you only ate plants. Vegans and vegetarians are overall much healthier people. There are a lot more unhealthy non vegans than unhealthy vegans… Secondly the term vegan is problematic in this blog post which tackles nutrients and vitamins because the term vegan is defined by what someone excludes from their diet. Not what it includes. I could eat vegan cookies and ice cream all day long and obviously wouldnt be healthy. So it would be better to take into consideration a healthy vegan diet called a whole foods plant based diet.
    Again, the tone that because you are not vegan you have less to worry about or conversely that because you are vegan you have more to worry about – is beyond irritating to be. It’s just utterly incorrect and wrong to say that or imply that.
    Also, making a list of nutrients and titling it “Nutrients missing from a vegan diet” makes my eyes pop out as well. Again that is so incorrect. None of these are MISSING. The choice of words here is very poor I think. All of these are present in plants. And all vitamins and nutrients are present in different quantity and quality. Macro and micro nutrients are not equal depending on the source. Not all calories are created equal, not all carbs are created equal not all protein is created equal and not all fats are created equal. And that goes for nutrients and vitamins too. Iron as an example, isnt the same from animal foods and plant foods. It behaves differently based on the source. And depending on the source more does not necessarily mean better…. I read a couple times on your blog that red meat is best for iron… That couldn’t be further from the truth… Heme iron is found in meat. Again, just cause it’s called iron and because there is a lot of it in meat doesn’t mean it’s a good thing…. Food for thought…
    In regards to the article you linked about soy and corn, Im not sure why I find myself reading this on a blog that is about fertility, ovulation, period etc…. About 80% of soy produced is fed to cattle… So im quite disappointed to find this on this blog… It’s all the more confusing as from reading a lot of your articles the last few hours of my day, it sounds like inflammation is a big problem for the women health issues you discuss and animal foods are very inflammatory. After all you do say/suggest that dairy and eggs arent the best for women’s health. and there’s a good reason for that. Animal foods are not healthy and if people would greatly reduce their intake (not just reduce a tiny bit) they would do better.
    Lastly, I’m quite baffled to read that being vegan is a big sacrifice. I dont understand how one wouldn’t see there is a lot more to sacrifice not being vegan than being vegan. On many different levels. Including someone’s health.

    That being said :), to answer your question, I have been vegan over 5 years and this hasn’t impacted my period at all personally.

    All love, I am really loving your website and think it’s so amazing and important to have someone like you share information about the female reproductive system. I’ll read about nutrition/environment/ecology somewhere else though 🙂

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  45. 48 years old, VERY long time vegan (since I was 10 years old!!), healthy ovulatory menstrual cycles, 2 healthy children both conceived and born naturally. Only supplement: B12, 1000mcg 3-4 times per week. I am myself a certified dietitians and ND. I am horrified at the amount of misinformation about nutrition that is currently linked to FAM (many authors writing about Fertility and FAM seem to defend “Paleo” or “Nourishing” diets that are total nonsense). Of course, that is better than standard western diet, but that´s pretty easy and could be achieved even with a sand and concrete diet! I also think that many vegan women get in trouble because they simply don´t know how to manage a vegan diet, and they consume a lot of processed food. THAT is a problem, not vegan diets themselves! So, if you need more information I will be happy to help.

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  46. Vegan for 1 year and 9 months. Periods were already heavy and irregular. Gyno said normal for my age (I just turned 39). She recommended a uterine ablation, but if I can take supplements I would rather do that. I had my iron checked and it is normal. I lost weight initially after going vegan, but have since gained it all back…5’7 150lbs. I seem to be gaining around my middle for the 1st time ever, which doc also said was normal. Please help!

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  47. Hello, I’ve been vegan for a month and my period has become a lot more painful and heavier, I’ve been in bed for 2 days. It was still pretty painful before becoming vegan. But my skin has improved and I’m losing weight, but I don’t feel a difference energy wise, I tend to have low energy and I’ve never found the reason for that.

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  48. My 21 yr old daughter became a vegan 4 years ago and hasn’t had her period since then. She has had so many health issues since she started -she lost a lot of her beautiful long hair, has crippling fatigue and depression and her digestion is all messed up and all she could think about was food! The good news is she went back to eating meat just 4 days ago and she just got her period again. She also has so much more energy and wants to be around people again She feels full for the first time that she can remember and already her digestion is working better. The only ones that seemed to be benefiting from her being on a vegan diet were the doctors and drug/supplement companies! Unfortunately doctors don’t seemed to be worried about nutrition too much and not one could figure out what was going on with her.

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  49. This is such an important topic, thank you for your blog!

    I’m 28years old and have always had slightly irregular periods, lasting 30-36days with a bleed of 5days. However, the last year has been very irregular. It started with one lasting 52days followed by 41, 31, 35, 32, 38, 38, 46 and I’m currently on day 48. Some people consider this trend not to be irregular?

    I became a “loose” vegan 2years ago having only eaten smoked salmon sushi, eggs and cheese on the vey odd occasion since… but I think the main culprit could be intermittent fasting? I started intermittent fasting a year ago with a 8hour eating window from 2pm -10pm followed by a 16hour fast which fits into my lifestyle. I dropped 4kgs of weight quickly. I wasn’t consuming enough calories in the 8hour window at first which I’m sure sure caused the 52day period.

    I’ll try extending the fasting window to 10hours and making it earlier in the day to see if this helps. I’ll also consider introducing eggs and fish back into my diet if it doesn’t. I really want to try and avoid eating meat.

    I’ve always had bad cramps for the first 1-2days of my period as well as mood swings, irritability, depression and fatigue 7-10days before my period. Only once I can recall not having cramps, and I think that was due to cutting alcohol a couple of months prior. I’ve always had upper lip hair, belly button hair and the random chin hair leading up to my period. I have never been on the pill. My PMS did ease when becoming vegan. My skin has improved, period is lighter and the cramps are not as bad but I am concerned about my fertility.

    I think it’s important not to rely on science and research that doesn’t factor in the sexes, as we differ so much hormonally. I’ve found that intermittent fasting especially does not have enough science, especially woman focused science, but I love the benefits that I’m seeing from it personally. I just hate the thought that it could be compromising fertility. I’m very interested in vegan studies on woman’s hormonal health.

    Thanks again for your blog!

    Reply
  50. I have been lacto-vegetarian for 17 years and vegan for 5 years. Essentially I just stopped consuming cheese which was the last animal product in my diet. I became pregnant on my third month of trying. When my postpartum period returned it shortened by 5 days and my cycle is currently 22-24 days long. My periods are painless, last 5 days and I ovulate on day 10 according to ovulation monitor. We have been trying to conceive a second child for 3 years now, all my fertility tests from RE are normal and tubes are open. I have been told that I have unexplained secondary infertility. I take epa/dha, k2, d3 and multivitamin that covers everything you mention in the article. I am wondering if there is something in my diet that could have contributed to shortening of my cycle and follicular phase. Do you have any suggestions on lengthening follicular phase? Is this age related or diet related, I am 33 years old.

    Reply
  51. I was vegetarian for years and then mostly vegan for a year then becoming fully vegan for 6 months. I was also on the depo shot for birth control so I can’t say anything about a period because I didn’t have one for over 10 years. I can say though I was eating a wide variety of whole foods (I love to cook) and working to be very nutrient aware I had to stop. By the end I had developed an iron deficiency ( medically diagnosed) I felt tired and weak all the time, I was anxious and depressed, I had pain I could not explain and I started craving cheese, eggs, and meat, I also had suffered with terrible smelling gas for months and months at that point and it was embarrassing. Once I added meat and eggs back in under advisement from my doctor quickly felt better. All symptoms resolved. I had been trying to take a vegan multivitamin but I was not consistent with taking it.

    Reply
  52. I’ve been vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian for around 7 years… most of the time pretty strictly vegan, cheating with some cheese here and there, and occasional seafood. It’s all been for health benefits, not ethical reasons. I felt like when I stuck to a plant based diet, it was much easier for me to eat healthy and control what I was putting in my body. I would do my best to eat a well rounded whole food diet – tried to balance how many carbs and grains I’d eat in a day, and make sure I’d always have some sort of greens and lots of veggies and beans. I’ve never ever noticed any issues with my period – if anything I think it’s been a tad bit lighter recently. But it’s always lasted the same amount of time and been very regular. I can always tell when I’m ovulating due to my mood ha, so I wouldn’t say I’ve ever not ovulated. I do get pretty bad PMS and cramping, however, I don’t remember that being any different when I was eating meat.
    I’ve recently added more seafood back in regularly, I’ll eat goat or sheep cheese occasionally, and I’ve been trying eggs again. Just to experiment and give myself more protein options. We’ll see if anything changes with my cycle – so far it’s stayed consistent.

    Reply
  53. Seems to me some committed vegans a making multiple posts. Would be a good idea to check that. I may be mistaken but seems that way to me from writing style.

    Reply
  54. I have been plant-based (vegan, and eat mostly vegetables) for almost 6 years, without sugar (even dried fruit or more than 2 fruits a day) and low nuts/oils. I take many supplements to support possible deficiencies. Before becoming vegan I had some health issues that have improved some, but they have not fully been resolved through this way of eating. Initially, I noticed a small increase energy wise and mentally, which I have maintained. However, my energy has never gotten to the point that I feel normal. I do have hypothyroid symptoms, and now take medication which also helps some. I have worked with MANY doctors conventional and alternative to work on the remaining parts. At 41, my periods are coming every 2-3 weeks with heavy bleeding and long cycles. I have taken bio-identical progesterone, but I gain a lot of weight, am groggy all day long even when taking it the evening before, and feel depressed. This is even when I have taken small doses. I am not overweight or close to being underweight, but my blood work seems to indicate that I am hypoglycemic without being insulin resistant, anemic with elemental iron supplementation, and my thyroid levels are not optimal with medication. I also suspect that I have histamine intolerance.

    I know this is long and rambling. I am so confused at this point. I just want to feel like I believe I can; with enough energy to take care of myself and my family without energy crashes and overall fatigue. Honestly the thought of eating meat again is unappealing, but I have begun to consider it if I felt better although I remember feeling better after starting eating plant-based. I don’t know, perhaps this as good as it gets for me at this stage in my life…?

    Reply
    • When my patients describe such a situation, my standard advice is to try eating meat again. Deficiencies of zinc, vitamin B6, iodine, selenium, choline, iron, and other animal-based nutrients could explain some of your symptoms.

      And as I explain in the article, the initial experience of “feeling better when starting plant-based” is usually a beneficial reaction to stopping dairy products.

      Reply
  55. I have adopted a plant based lifestyle for approximately 4 months. I’m the past couple months I have been getting my period every two weeks. Prior to the diet switch my period was pretty light, no real major PMs symptoms besides maybe a couple days of light cramps. My cycle was also very regular and coming the standard once a month. I obviously am still learning about how to live this lifestyle and making sure I’m getting all the nutrients my body needs. I have noted nothing but positive effects since switching, except for the increase in frequency of my periods! Any ideas as to why this is happening? I can only find info on periods decreasing or disappearing not coming more frequently.

    Reply
    • Bleeding every two weeks strongly suggests that you’re not ovulating, which is a similar effect to periods disappearing.
      It’s possible you need more food or more of some of the nutrients I discuss in this article, especially zinc.

      Reply
  56. Hello! I have been vegan 10 years and was vegetarian for 8 prior. I had horrific digestive issues before going vegan, irregular painful periods & overall was very unhealthy. Going vegan solved every digestive issue I have. I also eliminated cane sugar and eat organic non-gmo foods. My period is completely consistent every month lasting about 3 to 4 days. Every now and then I’ll have a painful period but it is ALWAYS related to my not valuing myself within that month. I have found magnesium also helps with these periods for me.
    Truly going vegan paired with organic & non-gmo has saved my life. Also I don’t drink alcohol which is a huge factor in my health and menstrual flow. When I used to drink it was always horrible and irregular.
    Much love all!!!
    Jessica renea

    Reply
  57. I (32 years old) have been eating a fully vegan diet for two years now (and a vegetarian diet for 8 years before that, during which time I very, very rarely consumed eggs and only ever ate dairy (mostly cheese made from cow’s milk) about 1-2 times a week). I generally eat very healthy and consume a variety of foods to get all the nutrients I need to thrive (such as veggies, fruit, nuts, legumes, seeds; plus some unhealthy foods: some candy, and alcohol on extremely rare occasions, maybe a handful of times a year). I supplement iron and b12 as my body runs through these extremely fast (my mom is the same, she eats an omnivorous diet). I make a point of staying clear of coffee and alcohol when I’m menstruating so as not to interfere with my body’s intake of iron. Since having switched to a vegan diet my period has remained the same: every 25-29 days, with a medium flow of about 5 days. I have been dealing with extremely heavy cramps on the first day ever since I first got my period at age 11. Recently I have been taking magnesium daily during the week before I start menstruating (following my gynaecologist’s advice) to the effect that for the last three cycles I have not felt the need to take any pain meds (of course I don’t know for certain whether this is due fully or partially to the magnesium supplements, it’s just my impression).

    Thank you for covering this subject!

    Reply
  58. I was vegan for around 9 months, specifically a ‘high carb’ vegan (terrible idea!). I lost my period, put on around 6kg, and was diagnosed with PCOS. I changed my diet after being told that the only option was to go back on the pill, something I wasn’t willing to do. I switched to a much higher fat diet (not keto, but far far less carbs) and got my period back within 2 weeks of making the change, felt far more myself and lost the weight within a couple of months. My body feels significantly better on meat, plenty of avocado, nuts, seeds and greens, eggs, organic butter and far fewer grains and legumes.

    Reply
  59. Hi there. Vegan for about 5 years now and have only been healthier and better for it.. I have endometriosis as is and I feel that being off animal products have deffinalty leveled my body out. Also my skin has benefited greatly even at the worst time of the month I’m less hormonal. All and all if say it’s been wonderful for my lovely lady body inside and out.

    Reply
  60. hi there 🙂 I’ve been vegan for 6,5 years and off hormonal birth control for about 3 years. I have always had a very rough first day (feel miserable and bad cramps, which unfortunately hasn’t changed since being vegan), but my flow is milder, and I bleed for about 5 days (same as pre vegan). I have not missed a period since I was a teenager (29 now). I feel my periods are perfectly healthy (and also smell much better – sorry, tmi?). I was in so much pain when ovulating before going on hormonal birth control and becoming vegan, but since coming off it (3+ years vegan) I only feel a very mild discomfort when ovulating.
    🌻

    Reply
  61. Hi there

    You asked – so here it is.

    I’ve been vegan since 2014. Periods remained the same – a regular 28/29 day cycle with a medium – light flow.

    When we decided to consciously have children in 2016, I fell pregnant within that very cycle of making that choice.

    I had a relatively easy and completely normal pregnancy. I gave birth at 39 weeks, at home, naturally, with a midwife and doula.

    I got my period back three months after giving birth and it has been regular and medium-light ever since.

    I breastfed for over two years and have only just recently weaned my 2 year old who is active, rosy-cheeked and healthy. She gets the odd cold and temperature now that is at playshcool, which is perfectly normal as far as my GP tells me.

    We eat a varied diet – a lot of veg and grains and beans and nuts but also not averse to vegan “junk food” every now and then.

    Being vegan is not always easy in social circumstances, but I love it. I grew up on a farm and in a South African farming community and my husband was actually running a beef farm when I decided to go vegan for ethical reasons. Trust me, it doesn’t matter how small-scale or organic or ethical a farmer is, FARM ANIMALS STILL SUFFER. They are taken away from their mothers far too early and they are slaughtered WHILST STILL BEING CHILDREN – chickens, lamb, cattle are all usually slaughtered before the age of 1/2/3 (unless they’re used for longer for a lifetime of miserable breeding).

    I went vegan because I couldn’t stand the cruelty of the meat and industry and egg industries, and spiritually and emotionally I no longer wanted to be a part of it. We have since sold that farm and are in the hospitality business. I would much rather take a supplement than ever contribute to such cruelty. I never did this for my health, but have experienced a life full of vitality and joy and peace since becoming vegan.

    – Keri Bainborough

    http://wearethewildflowers.co.za

    Reply
  62. I followed a low carb diet for about a year and a half and then I cut dairy out of my diet. After that was the first time I ever missed a period. I felt better, less stuffy, had better skin but continued to have irregular periods for a year. After a year of minimal dairy, I decided to go totally vegan, all the while maintaining a mostly low carb variation… so little beans and grains, mostly soy, nuts, seeds and non-starchy veggies. I followed this way of eating for over a year and completely lost my periods all together. It has been 18 months since my last period. Reading this article makes so much sense why I lost my periods; it is ironic because here I had thought I was eating vegan for my health!!! It has been 6 months since I re-introduced full fat yogurt, kefir and milk back into my diet along with fish, chicken and starchy carbs and grains. I cut out intense exercise, reduced stress and am now at a healthy BMI of 21. I am 40 … is there any hope of me recovering my periods before menopause?

    Reply
  63. Hi, I’m 16 years old and haven’t had my period for 4 months, i was lacto-ovo-vegetarian (no meat, but dairy and eggs were included in my diet) for 2 years and 5 months ago I also give up dairy products, but still eat eggs. My periods weren’t regular, but at least each two months I had it, my mom and her doctor think that drinking milk and eating cheese would help me to have my period back but I really don’t want to eat it again and she respected my choice. I’m taking complex B supplements since last week and I’m looking for natural medicines that could help me. Do you think I really should include dairy products back to my diet? Should I visit a doctor and see if I have hormones problems? I would appreciate your help, and I’m sorry if something I wrote is not clear to understand, english is not my first language.

    Reply
    • A couple of the main nutrients missing on a vegan diet are zinc and iron so you could speak to your doctor about supplementing those nutrients. You can also increase your intake of eggs to try to reach your protein requirements.

      Reply
  64. I’m not a vegan but I’ve been a vegetarian for soon 20 years and this subject interests me.
    I eat eggs. My stomach is sensitive to dairy so I don’t get a lot of it. I seem to be able to eat cheese but avoid most other forms of dairy and buy soy or oat alternatives.

    I’ve been off hormonal birth control for the past 10 years except for 6 months during 2017 when I tried the Mirena.
    My cycles are 23-29 days, most common is 25 days.
    I’ve been using a fertility awareness method since this spring and so far all of my 4 charted cycles have been ovulatory with 10-13 days of higher temperatures in the luteal phase. One cycle looked ovulatory but still had signs of low progesterone with zig zag LP temps and continous mucus. My worst PMS mood so far this year was during that cycle. I’ve eased up on soy products after reading about how it can affect hormones.

    I bleed 60-90 ml each period (use a menstrual cup and have measured it out of curiosity). It’s typically 3 days of flow. During day 1 I have cramps which I would rate 4/10 on a pain scale where 10 is the worst pain imaginable. The worst of it lasts 3-6 hours.

    Interesting to hear about keratosis pilaris! I’ve always had those bumps on my arms but didn’t know what they were called.

    Reply
  65. I have been vegan for a bit over a year. I have noticed that my periods are a lot lighter and I also have almost no cramping. Before I was vegan I had really bad cramping, bad PMS symptoms and really heavy periods. I feel so much better now that I am vegan.

    Reply
  66. So I’ve had irregular periods since I started menstruating at age 15. Then at 16 I started a vegan diet which over time was lower and lower in fat (HCLF). I felt fine in the beginning (and my cycles seemed to shorten a bit) but after a year or so I started feeling poorer as time progressed. Something felt off, and then I lost my period June 2017 and it didn’t return for almost 2 years. Feb 2019 it returned after a month of eating animal fats + protein. I developed mild hypothyroidism and an iodine deficiency and I’m sure I was low on other micronutrients as well.

    Reply
  67. Hi, I’m a vegetarian for 5 years and have been a vegan for whole year in that time. No problem with my cycle nor any change in cramps or flow. I’m a RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist, and work a lot with keto diet (very well formulated and follow my patients very closely) usually after a few months of the jeto diet women with irregular cycles start getting regular. That’s due to insulin regulation. I can tell you more about my experiences veggie and in private practice if you’re interested. Very good topic 🙌

    Reply
  68. I am vegan and have been for the past 16 months, I get a blood test every six months to check all my levels like b12, iron, zince etc. My latest blood test showed that my b12 levels are actually higher than they’ve ever been, and all my other vitamin levels are well within normal range. My iron levels however have slipped, still within normal range but I have been a bit slack about taking my iron supplement. I recently came off the pill and am interested to see how long it takes my hormones to balance out and for my period to return. I have recently added DIM into my supplement and diet intake, hoping to help my body balance out.

    Reply
  69. i have been vegan for about 6 years. my periods have been completely okay. my cycles are ovulatory, normal luteal phase and painless average bleeding. i do agree that you can get deficiencies on a vegan diet. i supplement zinc b12, choline and sometimes magnesium and selenium. i have no other health problems. i find that i must eat enough protein and fat. i dont think its a diet easy or doable for everyone. i dont think its the healthiest, but i think it can be healthy when done correctly and planned.

    Reply
  70. Hi Lara

    Since you asked, I wanted to share with you my experience. I’ve been vegan for 4 years now, before going vegan I hadn’t had a period for almost 2 years, due to the implant I had. I removed it after 1 year, but still didn’t get a period for 9 months and was trying to solve this naturally, when I went for vegan for environmental concerns, and within 8 weeks I’d had my first period again. These days my periods are very predictable, which they had never been before (I am only 27 so maybe that was a factor for being all over the place with my cycles in my early teen years). They last 4/5 days, with a 21 day break between. My first day is often very painful to the point where I need to take pain killers (ibuprofen) which I usually avoid as much as I can. They are not heavy, and I do not have much of an emotional reaction to them.
    Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
  71. I’ve been vegan for a year now, and have noticed lighter cramps, reduced PMS symptoms (which, for me, is usually breast tenderness, exhaustion, and bloating), and much clearer skin. Other than the reduced acne, none of these changes has been drastic, but they have been noticeable! There has been no change in the length or regularity of my periods, which always come like clockwork and last between 5-7 days.

    I agree that a small amount of animal-based foods is part of a well-rounded diet, but I think it’s important to accept and respect the reasons why someone might choose to have a completely plant-based diet. For me, the decision is motivated by my concern about climate change. My being vegan isn’t going to save the world, and going vegan en masse may not even be the best way to halt climate change, but in the face of a massive, inexorable, and increasingly severe threat to the planet, it’s a small step that I can take in my daily life to reduce my carbon footprint. That’s important to me.

    (Also, thanks for sharing the article about sustainable farming! I agree that adjusting the way that we use land and cultivate our livestock would have enormous benefits for the planet. But until that becomes more of a reality, I’m quite happy to avoid animal products in favor of locally grown veggies, legumes, and grains.)

    I think a vegan diet can be perfectly healthy and safe for many women as long as they make sure that they’re supplementing with a quality multivitamin and keeping track of any potential nutritional deficiencies. Ultimately, I think women who try veganism and stick with it are those who find it works for their bodies and their lifestyle, and that’s great.

    Reply
  72. Dear Lara,

    Thank you for talking about this important issue.

    I had a plant based diet for several years in my 20s (including period of raw veganism with lots of fruit) and it was not good for me especially as I had no idea of the nutrients I would be missing & didn’t supplement properly as a result. This was during a time when veganism (especially raw veganism) was trendy, a lot of my friends were vegan and the diet was sold by vegan influencers as the answer to all health problems we have in the western world.

    During that period of veganism, I developed asthma, high insulin, put on a lot of weight, had irritable bowel, worsened period problems, developed hay fever, and I was always tired and hungry.

    I felt so unwell that I had some functional medicine tests, which showed I was deficient in iron, omega 3’s, zinc, co enzyme Q10 and I was prediabetic. I was shocked as I thought my fruit & grain heavy diet was healthy. I reduced the grains & most of the fruit in my diet, added meat, fish, liver, and eggs back in (but not dairy) and my health issues have disappeared or lessened. My digestion is much better. I lost 20lbs and my insulin is normal.

    Removing dairy was the only part of veganism that positively impacted my health, and I am still dairy free.

    My advice to vegans is, make sure you supplement properly. Not just the obvious nutrients like vitamin b12, iron, zinc, & omega 3’s but also the lesser known nutrients that you will miss as part of a vegan diet, such as co-enzyme Q10, iodine, carnitine, taurine, creatine, choline, pre-formed vitamin A, glycine & methionine. You won’t get these on a vegan diet but you still need them.

    Reply
  73. I’ve been fully vegan for a year and eight months and was a vegetarian for two years before that. I’ve noticed no change in flow since being vegan. I have less cramping and no longer experience pre-menses acne like I used to! I integrate more magnesium and iron into my diet than I used to pre-veganism. I appreciate all the knowledge you share here as I am always striving to better nourish and nurture my body. Thank you!

    Reply
  74. I have been vegan for a year and a half. My periods have gotten much lighter. They still last on average 5-7 days. Prior to being vegan I had excruciating cramping, and heavy bleeds on days 2 and 3. Now I have a light period and can get through my cycle with only light days. As far as mood swings, they have not changed. I experience mood swings up to 10 days before my period. I do supplement with the mega foods multivitamin for women, as well as a vitamin d3 and zinc supplements daily.

    Reply
  75. Vegan for around 10yrs or so, cycle was totally fine until I hit perimenopause around 2yrs ago, but that would have happened no matter what I ate.

    Reply
  76. Hi Lara
    I have heard you speak on a number of occasions and have your book The period repair manual. I am also studying nutrition. I have recently become a vegetarian as my two teenage girls decided they wanted to go that way. I have now also taken my girls off dairy, apart from goats cheese. Both my girls as meat eaters had very heavy long periods from the age of 11 years old. After giving up meat and fish their periods have lightened and become less painful. We always had organic meat before they stopped eating it. Interestingly my iron which was always very low when eating meat all my life, went up when I became vegetarian. I don’t think you can say that all vegans are deficient in nutrients and there are many studies backing that up. India’s population was predominantly vegetarian and they had no problems breeding up a population in relative social disadvantage. The Guardian article you linked in no way provides a good case for animal agriculture or feeding the world or protecting wild animals from extinction. Mono culture is bad, using water and land resource in copious amounts for animal farming is bad also. There are market garden solutions that can feed the world. I am disappointed that you seem to have not based your thinking on evidence. I do understand you probably see a lot of vegans who are unhealthy in your practice but there is a world of unhealthy meat eaters out there also. Eating lots of junk food as a meat eater or vegan is going to affect your health. As practitioners we could support their choices and advise how they can best achieve a health diet as millions of vegan cultures around the world have. When you take any food group out of the diet you need to make sure to eat other foods to compensate – education is the key. Original Traditional Mediterranean diets only included small amounts of meat on a fortnight bases, unlike the feasting we now do al all meals. Not sure what the Dali Lama would have to say about your thinking – albeit he is male – his mother was not. Maybe you could focus on decreasing junk, processed food rather than looking at plant based foods?

    Reply
    • thanks so much for your comment. I really do appreciate it.
      Just to point out that the vegetarian population in India traditionally ate a lot of A2 dairy, so they were by no means vegan.
      And I do state in the article that even a small amount of animal-based nutrition as part of a traditional diet is sufficient for health.

      Reply
  77. Hi Lara,

    I have been vegan for four years now and with limited dairy and meat for 8-10 years. It has helped regulate my periods and I no longer have painful periods, hirsutism has decreased, no acne or consider in the PCOS realm. I find it really suits me as I am more calm/less angry too. It help me to start ovulating too.

    I follow a really healthy plant based diet though- sprouted legumes, soaked nuts, wheatgrass juicing, fruits++ , wholegrains, engenvita yeast, cayenne pepper etc. I have made sure to check bloods every 6months and all is healthy. My iron levels have even improved on this diet-probably due to high vitamin c and less heavy periods affected iron levels.

    Reply
  78. I do agree that period health isn’t thought about as much as it should be…but it’s not an excuse to not look into plant-based diets and how they are beneficial for period health just because it’s not a common subject.

    Reply
    • also, just reassure you that I received lots of information about vegetarian diets as part of my training as a naturopathic doctor.

      Reply
  79. Yes, feel free to delete the first few repetitive comments lol.

    Also, I feel that is quite the assumption that most plant-based doctors are male or that period health isn’t being thought about… You’d be very surprised just how many plant-based doctors there are and all the information that is out there. I was even just thinking about how there are many plant-based doctor conferences and events around the world. Maybe it would be awesome if you could attend one of those to really get your feet wet regarding the plant-based side of things.

    I just feel that without digging into it head first yourself, you will always remain skeptical.

    Reply
    • 🙂 Actually, the statement that “period health isn’t being thought about” applies to any field in health and nutrition, not just plant-based.

      Reply
  80. I’ve been vegan for 18months and have started having very irregular cycles, the last 3 for example have been 36 days, 47 days and 26 days. I’m having some tests done to see if there are any deficiencies.

    Reply
  81. Hi Chelsea,

    I think it’s fine that your reply is there a few times. Do you want me to delete one or more of them? I can do it from this end.

    And, as for asking plant-based doctors the hard questions about whether or not they’re thinking about women’s health, I think it’s safe to say that in most cases, if they are men, they are not thinking about ovulation or women’s health.

    Reply
  82. Hi Dr. Biden – I am so happy you posed this question, because I’m wondering if my diet has worsened my irregular periods. I’m undergoing fertility counseling because I am having eggs frozen and they’ve diagnosed me with PCOS due to Polycystic ovaries and irregular/skipped periods. I’ve been irregular my whole life, since I first got my period during a break from swimming and then I started training again and it went away for an entire year. Being a swimmer, and very fit, I was never having super regular periods. Fast forward two decades and I still compete in triathlon and running so I exercise 5-6 days a week. I was quite regular (for me) until February of this year when work stress also heightened. Compounding that, I went vegan in August of last year! I would love to return to my “normal” 39-day cycle, can you let me know based on the above and below what you’d advise?
    Tests:
    DHEA-Sulfate 1,280 ng/mL
    Prolactin 8.1 ng/mL
    TSH 3.2 mcIU/mL
    Estradiol 107 pg/mL
    FSH 7.8 mIU/mL
    LH 10.6 mIU/mL
    Anti-Mullerian Hormone 3.026 ng/mL
    Sex Hormone Binding Globulin 144 nmol/L
    Testosterone 20 ng/dL
    Testosterone, LC-MS/MS 31 ng/dL
    Testosterone, Free LC-MS/MS 1.8 pg/mL
    Testosterone LC-MS, Bioavailable 5.2 ng/dL

    Ultrasound revealed:
    13 follicles on one ovary
    20 follicles on second

    Reply
  83. I have been vegan for over 8 years, most of which that time was on the birth control pill so no real period to compare too. My period before starting the pill at age 15 was not regular, but I never had PMS symptoms, just some mild acne.
    After coming off the pill and having been plantbased then vegan for most of that time I didn’t have a period for about 4 months post pill, once my cycles started they were not regular and were 36-42 days long for a couple months, and I all of a sudden had many other symptoms arise and acne was the worst it had ever been.
    Now just over 2 years after quitting the pill I had my iron tested and it was VERY low, my zinc was also on the low end of “normal”, and my cycles are abit shorter but still abit irregular with breast tenderness PMS, and then cramping during my period. I started supplementing with iron and zinc (and a few other things along the way from my ND) but because I was feeling like I wasn’t getting what I needed on a vegan diet and really wanted to do better for my health I started including some local free range eggs, oysters, mussels, and sardines into my diet here and there.
    My cycles now seem to be normalizing although it is very early to tell.
    I do believe I have ovulated for most of my cycles in the past year, but I had also put an emphasis on not only eating nutrient dense whole foods, but also lots of healthy fats, even before adding in some animal fats.

    Reply
  84. Hello. I have been following a strictly plant based diet (+ honey) for 8 years, vegetarian for 10 years before that. My periods now are the best they’ve ever been. Not that they were bad before plant based but I did have a little cramping then. Nothing now! I don’t experience any symptoms around my cycle, its extremely regular and went 2 years monitoring my cycle using no contraception with my partner. I honestly had no idea how bad some women experienced their monthly cycle until I started in clinical practise while studying naturopathy. I want to add I also do cleanses every year or couple of years from short fasts to longer juice fasts. I suspect toxic overload is contributing to women’s period pain & related symptoms.

    Reply
  85. My cycle is nearly perfect (I’m 21 and have been vegan for about 4 years, and vegetarian for 5 years before that). My cycles are perfectly regular (29 days), with a consistent luteal phase of 12 days and ovulation every month. I went off the pill about two years ago which resulted in a few months of anovulation (confirmed by BBT tracking), but I began having monthly bleeds right away. My only menstrual complaint is some cramping on the first 1-2 days of my cycle that can be quite unpleasant. My periods are also quite light, which potentially has a dietary link, but it’s worth mentioning that my ferritin levels are in the middle of the reference range (it hasn’t always been this way, though). Being a naturopathy student myself, I have a good understanding of how I need to be eating in order to be in tip top health despite my veganism – which potentially makes all the difference.

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  86. My period has drastically improved since going vegan. It used to be very painful and was never regular. Now it is almost painless, quite light and I haven’t missed a period since! I’m loving being vegan and get my blood work done twice a year to make sure I stay on top of my health. I can’t agree with your statement that veganism causes deficiencies because I don’t feel like being vegan is to blame. Doesn’t matter what “diet” you chose it’s upto you to stay on top of your health. I know a huge amount of people who eat “normally” that are deficient in many nutrients mostly iron and b12. And I think if you tried looking properly into it that you’ll find most of those nutrients you mentioned are in leafy greens or other vegetables. Furthermore I’m not sure how having a slab of steak (or another meat) every night is going drastically improve your heath we are just cutting out the middle man – where did you think the animal got that nutrients- leafy greeeeeeens (or like in NZ it’s often added)😊 Thanks for allowing us to have a conversation

    Reply
  87. I don’t know why my reply to your (Lara) reply on my original comment isn’t posting but I’ll try and post this as a new comment and if my multiple tries at replying suddenly show up on the original thread, I’ll delete this one.

    We can exchange articles/studies all day long because there will always be two sides of the coin. I’ve seen balanced plant-based diets completely transform lives, including period health and many other facets of health, and I’ve read numerous bodies of work citing studies proving same, and you just can’t deny that no matter how hard you try.

    As for the links you sent me, it’s all stuff I have heard before and can easily be remedied by speaking with someone who knows how to cater to plant-based diets. I of course have my own opinions and knowledge that I have acquired over the years of being an ethical vegan, and I’m happy to get into it if you want.

    Instead of taking anecdotal surveys from women online, I’d love to see you approach plant-based doctors and researchers who make this their life’s work and ask them all the hard questions…if you’re really trying to get anywhere with this.

    I bought your book and read it from front to back and I fully support your naturopathic approach to healthy periods…but a plant-based diet is definitely something else you should open your mind to learning, and learning it from the experts in the field.

    Best wishes and all my support!

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  88. Hi, I’ve been a vegan for about 12 years and over that time I’ve seen a huge change to my period, but I had never linked that to my diet.
    I used to have a super mellow period, minimal pain, I would say a regular flow. These days I have crippling pain, and a flow so heavy that it can be hard to leave the house. These changes started when I had Paraguard inserted, and continued even after removing the IUD.
    Honestly it’s a nightmare. But I don’t think I’d stop a vegan lifestyle because of it? It’s a hard balance

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  89. Hello,
    I have been vegan since 2013. It has been a wonderful experience for me. I have better regularity and less painful periods since going vegan. I also suffered from migraines and I do not get them now. I eat a whole food plant based diet. I drink green juice at least three times a week. The majority of my food comes from beans, legumes, potatoes, grains, nuts and seeds, and all fruits and vegetables. I take a vitamin D and B12 supplement daily, although I did that before starting a vegan diet.
    I respect your work and hope this helps people towards better health and vitality.

    Thanks very much, Telina

    Reply
  90. Hi Lara,

    I have been following a vital and vegan diet for 4 years now. It has really helped regulate my periods and I no longer have hormonal issues, hirsutism (as much) acne or considered within the pcos realm. My periods are no longer painful and I have started ovulating. I also feel calmer/less angry so find it really suits me. I was concerned for a time that I have lighter periods now and that they are three days long. And another concern is that I may hit the menopause earlier.

    I follow a very healthy vegan diet though -ie sprouted legumes, soaked nuts, engevita yeast, wheatgrass juicing, daily salads, fruit++ etc and have a blood test every 6months which shows no nutritional or other issues. It has infact improve my iron levels as I used to suffer from low ferritin levels (due to increased Vit C or less heavy periods).

    Reply
  91. Hi Lara!
    First, sorry for the mistakes in my comment, I don’t know to write in english very well.
    I’m 29 and I’m vegan for 2 years. I was diagnosticated with PCOs when I was 24 and my treatment was only with the contraceptive (I took it for almost 10 years, cause I used it before the diagnosis).
    About 4 years ago I decided to stop with the hormones because of strong migraines. When I did that, I was already vegetarian and my periods took three months to regularize. Two years later I become vegan and my periods remained regular and with a minimum of symptoms.
    I do routine exames at least twice a year and all results are always satisfactory. Hormonal rates, vitamins, iron… and many times I saw corpus luteum in the ultrasound of the ovaries, can you imagine my joy?
    I try to have a plant based nutrition (minimum of industrialized products, sodium, sugar and gluten) and my supplementation is basically B12, folic acid, vitamin D and iron (to increase ferritin).
    I also try to follow my cycles with natural methods and I am learning about how to use seeds, like flaxseed, sesame, pumpkin seed and sunflower seed, to help the hormonal modulation.

    I hope my commentary helps you.

    😉

    Reply
  92. I’ve been vegan since 2011. My periods were just as heavy and irregular at first, but as I cut out processed foods and paid more attention to eating a varied and balanced diet, my periods have gotten lighter, shorter, and more regular. My cycles have also gone from 24-26 days to 28-30 days.

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  93. I have been strictly plant based for about 3 years. I’m the beginning my periods improved dramatically. I have started having heavier cycles and more cramps in the last year.

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  94. Vegan three years last March
    More regular cycle (29 days with a 5 day menses) and can now track for natural contraception methods
    Reduce menorrhagia since gong vegan but some cramping on day 1 (due to not eating enough EFAs but I’m trying to get better)
    I have keratosis pilaris but have had it since I was around 10 so it’s not caused by low Vitamin A and supplementation never helped it

    Hope this helps ☺️

    Reply
  95. Hi Laura, I’m 47 and I’ve eaten a strict vegan diet for 8 years. Prior to my diet change I suffered from gallbladder disease. It got to a point where I couldn’t eat anything or I’d have a gallbladder attack. Refusing to have this organ removed from my body, I first did a juice/smoothie fast just to get some nutrients in….That ended up being all I could consume for several months… (I was a very sick lady) slowly I added salad, then beans, and just a few nuts. Now eight years later I can eat a wide range of vegetables, fruits, nuts and beans. I’m still unable to digest high fat from certain foods, but avocados and cold pressed olive oil are no problem. My periods come regularly, last about 4-5 days and are never heavy or painful, unlike most of my friends in my age group…. My nails are strong and healthy, and for the first time in my life, my hair is thick and so long it is past my waist. I’m sorry to disagree with you here, but following a plant based diet was the best thing I’ve ever done….

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  96. I have 3 kids, the last two were conceived whilst vegan. I did not have to try for long so obviously ovulation is not a problem. I have been vegan for 5 years now and apart from low Iron after pregnancy which I had with ALL my pregnancies I am doing pretty well.

    Our kids are vegan also and all healthy. You can find omega 3, Iron, A,D and Bs in a vegan diet and can suplement for B12.

    A vegan diet is healthy.

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  97. Hello. I was first pull on the pill at around 17 due to severe period and ovulation pain. I was pescatarian for around 14 years and have been vegan now for nearly 5.5 years. I have fallen pregnant naturally twice and birthed 2 healthy babies (both while being pescatarian). My periods were still very painful despite being on the pill and then later an IUD. After becoming vegan my pain completely stopped when I was ovulating or menstruating. I went off all synthetic hormones and have the healthiest periods I’ve ever experienced. It has transformed my shame and negativity surrounding my periods. I get my bloods tested every few years and my vitamin d levels are low and iron at the lower end of normal at the moment. I supplement both at the moment, along with b 12 and activated b due to having the MTHFR gene. I am 44 years old now. My period comes every 28-30 days and last around 4-5 days.

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  98. Ever since going vegan (5 years ago) , I’ve only had period pain twice! My back no longer hurts. My period is much more regular (It is now a consistent 4-5 days progressing from light to medium back to light flow). Previously, I had extremely heavy periods which lasted 11 days. I was bedridden and had to wear super or night pads during the day for the first 9 days. My back would ache so much and i had always had thick and glumpy chunks in my blood! I didn’t realise that it was ODD to have lumpy chunks in your period until i told my friends. I absolutely DREADED my period. My period also used to come quite irregularly (sometimes every two weeks, sometimes every two months! etc) Now it comes every 22-28 days.

    Reply
  99. Hello 🙂 I have been strictly plant based for 6 years now, and my period is a lot lighter and less painful than beforehand when I was eating goats cheese and other types of dairy. It occurs every 26 days and is always regular. No issues to report besides low mood a few days beforehand which I attribute to the drop in estrogen/serotonin.

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  100. Thank you for this post. I stopped eating meat 7 years ago and became vegan 3 years ago. I was actually hoping that quitting dairy would improve my period but nothing has changed since I first got my period 14 years ago. Still heavy periods with incredible pain. I am intolerant for dairy and I couldn’t imagine eating meat ever again. I do take additional D, B12, zinc and iodine and hope vegan diet will work for me long term.

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  101. Hello,
    I have been on a plant based diet for almost 10 years, although I do occasionally eat eggs. My cycle is 31 days every month and never varies more than 2 days. I have noticed my temperature rise takes a few days after signs of ovulation, usually 2-3 days and my ovulation happens a little later in my cycle; around the 18th day. I feel very tired a few days before my periods, but don’t have many other serious complaints. My periods usually take 5-6 days, only the first two days are heavy bleeding. I am now 32 years old. I have only taken contraception pill for 2 years; between 18 and 20 years old. Please let me know if I can answer any further questions, happy to help!

    Reply
  102. I have been vegan for 1.5 years and vegetarian for 10 years before that. My periods are regular and last for around 4-5 days (ave. 26 day cycle). The first 2 days are typically med-heavy and the remaining 3 days the flow tapers off. I will say that since coming off the OCP 3.5 years ago my periods have become more painful on day 1 & 2 and this has not changed since going completely plant based.

    I am fairly sure I ovulate regularly though I don’t track my basal metabolic temp. I experience mittelschmerz on my right side every second month, a change in vaginal fluid and have recently seen a corpus luteum present on ultrasound a few days after ovulataion.

    Hope this helps 🙂

    Reply
  103. Hi. I actually was vegan for 2 years, I tracked my nutrients religiously, I supplemented with B12 and D. I am no longer vegan and honestly hesitant to post on this thread but I did wind up with a vitamin A deficiency, thyroid problems and very very long and heavy periods and was diagnosed with estrogen dominance. My husband had been plant based for over 10 years, I have many vegan friends, I feel like when I talk about the problems I had with the diet I’ve had a lot of dismissal and lectures about “well planned” and “eating enough”. I had plenty of beta carotene, lots of veggies, but my mental and physical health deteriorated.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for commenting, and interesting that you felt hesitant to post. Yours is exactly the kind of story that needs to be told. 🙂

      Reply
  104. Hi Lara,

    I have been vegetarian for 7 years and vegan for 1.5. I was on the pill for 6 of those years and went off of it it this past December after reading your ebook. Since going off the pill, I have regularly gotten my period every 29-32 days, my cycles lasting 4.5 days. My period symptoms are nothing out of the ordinary — mild cramps the first day and a bit of hormonal acne. I had blood work done earlier this week and everything was perfect. I only take a probiotic.

    Hope this helps your research!

    Reply
  105. I couldn’t wait to comment on this because I am a data collector! I have been vegan for 7 years and had a host of hormonal issues prior to switching. My primary concern was adrenal insufficiency and malnourishment. This was PRIOR to a vegan diet (just want to make sure that’s clear). My period was very irregular but I was able to get pregnant with no issue. My primary method of birth control was always tracking ovulation and that was always accurate. I conceived with no issue despite health issues in 2010. I switched to vegan diet in 2012 and got pregnant a few months later. What I noticed about my periods is less cramping, a more consistent flow (1 light day proceeded by 2 heavy days and then 2 light to moderate flow day). This has never changed for me in the last 7 years. I am now pregnant with my 4th child and was able to conceive using the same methods of tracking ovulation. One thing I feel has greatly contributed to my success with a vegan diet is tracking my intake- I pay close attention to micronutrients, how food makes me feel, all biofeedback from my body pretty much. I will eat what I know my body can get the most out of. Since going vegan- I am much healthier with many of my health issues being resolved. The vegan diet didn’t seem to change anything about my period except making it consistent in flow.

    Reply
  106. Hi! I was vegan for 4 years, in that time I lost my period and was diagnosed with Hashimotos and later peri-menopausal with horrible symptoms (I’m 29). I initially attributed these things as coincidence, but in the last 6 months the symptoms had gotten so bad (hot flashes, lethargy, mood swings, blood tests showed very low estrogen/progesterone, ect) that I started incorporating eggs and fish, bone broth and then meats again.

    Since stopping following a vegan diet (which I was whole food plant based, obsessive about hitting all the bases nutrient wise … or so I thought, no super processed stuff) – my period just came back 2 days ago! No more hormonal imbalance symptoms, and I went off my armor thyroid 2 months ago and all my levels are normal and I feel great.

    I thought the vegan diet was best for me and the planet and the animals, and initially I felt great (first 3 months) – but couldn’t maintain that and just felt terrible and ignored my body. Never again! Thanks for all your work!

    Reply
  107. I’ve been vegan for 3 years and I don’t have much to report regarding my personal period health as I’ve been on the pill for the last 10 years and have only been off of it for about 3 months, so I’ll leave this here (can’t post the screen shot I have so I’ll type it):

    “Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all states of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.

    Harvard Medical School: Traditionally, research into vegetarianism focused mainly on potential nutritional deficiencies, but in recent years, the pendulum has swung the other way, and studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses.

    Dietitians of Canada: A well planned vegan diet can meet all of these needs. It is safe and healthy for pregnant and breast feeding women, baby, children, teens and seniors.

    The British National Health Service: With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs.”

    No matter what diet someone chooses, everyone’s body is different, and there are many factors that play into nutrient absorption. Just because someone is deficient in something doesn’t mean that it’s ONLY due to it lacking in their diet; a lot more can play into it. As stated above, on average, a well-balanced, whole foods plant-based diet has proven to be sufficient for all stages of life.

    Also, I’d like to touch on one of the very last points regarding veganism and the environment. If you’re concerned about the climate and the effect the industrial farming of grains has had, you should see how much of that grain is being fed to farm animals to fatten them up for slaughter compared to how much is actually being fed to humans. Check out cowspiracy.com’s facts page. Pretty eye-opening stuff.

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  108. Hey Lara, thank you for this beautiful blog entry. I have been vegan for 2 strictly now and lost my period 5 years ago. It was the time wher I started to try veganism for the first time but also diets such as low carb, low fat, etc. I got to a point where I was underweight so I guess that was the reason I didn’t get it at that time. However now I am back at a healthy weight for almost 2 years and my period it’s still not coming back. I have never been ok birth control and I have literally tried every possible natural healing method. Since 4 months I have been consuming regularly all your recommended vitamins as well and even implemented a few eggs and salmon into my diet. Still no results, which is so frustrating… Do you have any more tips?

    Thanks a lot xx

    Reply
    • have you had a diagnosis as to why you don’t have a period? Did your doctor say it’s hypothalamic amenorrhea? If so, you could just need a bit more time and maybe calories. According to Nicola Rinaldi who wrote the book “No period, now what?” women can need 2500 calories per day to recover from HA. Also, if you’ve just reintroduced eggs and fish four months ago, it is still early days and ovulation could still be to come.

      Reply
  109. I just want to add my support for this comment. The article linked is entirely misleading. Most of the corn and soy crops are going to feed the livestock we eat so that argument unfortunately falls apart quickly. I think a vegan diet needs to be carefully planned and supplemented but it can be done with a little thought. In my case I lost my period and have had long cycles eating both vegan and non vegan. The common denominator is not eating ENOUGH!!!

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  110. I have been vegan for almost 6 years. My periods went through a year of up and down once I went vegan, as I went vegan all at once. It bears mentioning I had moved countries a few months prior, changed jobs, and gotten married so there was a lot of other stuff going on that would definitely factor in too. I went for 2 months without a period, then had another period 3 weeks later, and over the year, it slowly went back to normal. I’ve always had a longer cycle, usually 31 days, and it slowly went back down to a 26 pr 27 day cycle over the last 2years. I started having painful periods 2 years before going vegan. It wouldnt be every period, maybe every 3rd and it was really bad. I’d have to stay home from work, heat pack and sleep. This continued when I went vegan, no better or worse.
    I developed breakouts of large angry pimples over my chest and neck over the last 2 years and after reading The Woman Code by Alyssa Vitti tried to avoid carbs after 5pm to help my liver process hormones instead of storing glycogen. After 3 months of this (and several flare ups when I deviated) I had a reduced pain to about 60 percent of what it used to be. I also gave up caffeine a month ago for the same reason. My skin has cleared up as well. I supplement B12 regularly and I read your article on zinc which was really interesting. Thank you for your work on this topic. It’s really empowering.

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  111. 25 years vegan and periods stopped altogether, I would estimate after about 2 years. This could also be attributed to high levels of exercise as I ran long distance. Still managed to have three children in the absence of periods. After my last child, at the age of 44 I added other foods, but not meat. My weight increased and my periods returned after I had finished breast feeding at the age of 48

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  112. Thank you for this! Exactly what I wanted to say and you saved me the trouble. Perfectly and gently articulated and respectful of Lara’s intentions. I agree wholeheartedly.

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  113. Hi there! I’m vegan, and I have been on and off between vegan and vegetarian for about 20 years. I have been vegan for over a year, and my periods seem to be doing better now than ever. However, there are so many other factors because I have worked with an Ayurveda practitioner for nearly 2 years now who had me on herbs, castor oil packs, and helped me with my iron deficiency.
    She has been all about the long game, and omg, has it ever paid off. She has changed my life because I used to have periods so painful I have ended up passing out, in hospital etc.

    Thanks for all the information on your page I really appreciate it, and continue to observe my body as I do want tot be healthy on a vegan diet. However, I also care more about the animals, and the environmental devastation, and wildlife species extinction caused by the livestock industry, than I do about most anything else.

    I really appreciate that you care about those things too. I really felt your caring it what you shared, and it deepened my trust and connection with the rest of your information because you showed vulnerability, and integrity in your sharing of caring about the planet and about animals.

    However, the article you linked is inflammatory and misleading, and not at all representative of the livestock industry and the absolute devastation it causes to our planet. As with all large movements, (such as veganism), there is always a tremendous backlash, and that article is a part of the backlash against vegans. The title of the article is clickbait and pure Orwellian doublespeak. Anyone who reads the article, and by all means go ahead and read it, I just encourage you to also read the comments, most of which thoroughly debunk the articles validity.
    The first comment on the article is by George Monibot, a prominent and wonderful writer for the guardian. I’ll just leave it here

    “What Isabella and her husband have done at Knepp is beautiful. But we simply cannot use it as a general justification for eating meat. The Knepp estate supplies 0.0075% of the beef the UK eats, and there is nowhere else like it.

    So what if everywhere was like Knepp, producing 54kg of meat/hectare? The UK’s 17.2m ha of farmland would produce slightly less beef than the UK eats. And nothing else. Knepp is wonderful. But as a general model it’s a formula for starvation.

    As you know, I strongly support rewilding – of infertile and unproductive land. I do not support rewilding as a substitute for productive crop-growing. The amazing thing about a plant-based diet is that it uses far less land, releasing more for rewilding. According to the estimates by Simon Fairlie (himself a small livestock keeper), a vegan diet could feed all the UK’s people on just 3m hectares of land. Alternatively, all the productive farmland in the UK could be used to support 200m people.

    By contrast, if Knepp-style production was applied across all the UK’s farmland, it would supply the UK’s population with around 75 kcal per person per day – roughly 1/30th of what we need to survive.”

    I don’t mean to be inflammatory, I just always feel I must speak up when this particular article is shared as a rallying cry against the vegan movement.

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  114. Thanks for your response. In case you or others are interested, I solved the problem myself. I realised I just wasn’t getting enough calories as an active vegan since I removed dairy and eggs without replacing them with anything. Once I started adding some energy dense foods like peanut butter and coconut yoghurt my periods came back quite fast.

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  115. Thanks for your blog! I’ve been vegan for 5 years, but was on the birth control pill until 1.5 years ago. It took 1.5 month before I for my period back, and I felt depressed and anxious for many months after quitting the pill, but I’m finally feeling like myself again and my hormones are finally normal, my period is regular and very normal. I have a lot of pain on my first day of period, but other than that my period is normal and healthy as a vegan. 🙂

    Reply
  116. Hi Lara, thank you for your reply. It looks like I need to educate myself better. I questioned whether the change in my diet could have anything to do with recent changes. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any information on line on this topic. So I was very exited to find this article and to read through comments of fellow vegans’ experiences. And while majority strongly disagreed vegan diet negatively impacted them there was someone who felt that was the case for her. It’s important to allow and consider opposing viewpoints to broaden our perspective and gather balanced information. At the end of the day just because it worked for you doesn’t meant it will for everyone out there.

    Reply
  117. After being on a whole food plant based diet for a three years now, my periods got heavier and in the past few months my PMS symptoms turned into something else! I think it’s PMDD and it really affects my live badly big time. I thought eating so many and a variety of fruits and veg plus B12 supplement would give me all the nutrient my body needs. I will try to learn what should I eat more of, because I’d like to stay on this diet if I can (plenty of health reasons). Surely, apart from B12, all the nutrient found in animal produce can be found in plants. The past couple of years were quite stressful time for me and I wonder if PMDD is a result of that rather than just diet. I guess it is not that easy, everyone is different and has different circumstance.

    Reply
    • “Surely, apart from B12, all the nutrient found in animal products can be found in plants.”

      Unfortunately, no. Several key brain-health nutrients cannot be obtained in sufficient amounts from plant foods. They include zinc, taurine, choline, vitamin B6 — all important for mood.

      See my PMDD blog post.

      Reply
  118. Hi Dr Briden! I was diagnosed with PCOS at 17 when I had yet to have a period and was put on the BCP. I came off the pill multiple times and never had a period return (was a pescatarian). Meanwhile, I went vegan when I was 21, and now, age 29 I am cycling almost regularly, and been a vegan for 7.5 years. My first real period was at age 27 (after introducing a daily yoga practice). Yay! So I don’t think a vegan diet negatively impacted my cycling.

    Reply
  119. Vegan for 8years maybe. No period whatsoever. I was relieved to not have it since it felt like a burden. I heard other vegan bloggers didn’t have one either. never thought there could be n issue. I felt great otherwise. Now I am scouring the internet looking for a natural way balance my hormones.

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  120. Hi Lara, I’m 33 and was a vegetarian for 8 years (from 18yo) before becoming a pescetarian about 2 years prior to becoming pregnant with my first & only child 4 years ago. I’ve had painful periods my whole life since 11yo, and was diagnosed with endometriosis at 21 and given tranexemic acid back then as well.

    I’ve been trying to get pregnant for the past 2.5years after my daughter turned 8months old. I’ve had 3 “miscarriages” since then – a missed miscarriage at 10 weeks, a complete molar pregnancy (requiring the 6month “cancer-watch” waiting period), and a pregnancy of unknown location treated with chemotherapy. I was given the ok to start trying again 6 months ago. I have a low AMH, ovarian cysts and fibroids, a subseptate uterus, and anticardiolipin antibodies, all pre-existing to my first pregnancy excepting the anticardiolipin, which was inactive at last test in November (after becoming vegan).

    6 months ago I decided to become vegan. My husband has Ulcerative Colitis and can’t have dairy, nuts and many other foods, so I decided to cut-out dairy with him to make meal preparation easier and support him through this new and permanent change. I’d already stopped eating eggs and fish by this point as I never really enjoyed the taste of either and mainly ate these very sporadically to increase my protein intake & omega 3 & 6 while exercising. I continued these foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding up to 12mths before cutting them out again in the last 12 months.

    Since becoming vegan I haven’t noticed any change in my period flow or period pain intensity/tenderness since then. My moods around period time feel much more stable than they were previously and I have a lot less bloating with my period. I have increasing pain where my endometriosis is located close to my bowel and increased pain where my cyst is just prior to and after ovulation, but this has typically increased over time whenever I have gone off the pill since becoming diagnosed with Endo.

    With my diet – I don’t eat an excessive amount of beans or nuts, and I mostly rely on a variety of vegetables and carbs (muesli, rice, brown breads/wraps). I eat organic tofu 1/2 times per week and use soy sauce about the same amount. I drink a combination of organic, calcium-fortified rice/coconut/almond milks.
    I feel a lot less tired & lethargic during the day since becoming vegan, with the only real change to my diet being the omission of cow’s milk in my coffee & cereal, and removing cheese from salads and pastas. At night time I am still exhausted but I have a lot of broken sleep (due to a non-sleeping preschooler, she eats a normal diet), and I’m juggling motherhood with part-time stressful work and part-time study so I put the tiredness down to that. I’m taking a pregnancy vitamin with high iron which I hope helps.

    5 cycles later I’m still not pregnant and am about to have follow up with my fertility specialist this week for surgical consideration. I have prescriptions for progesterone, heparin and asprin ready for when i do fall pregnant, but am of course having reconsiderations about these since becoming vegan due to the animal content of the first two (the “how far do I go with this” dichotomy…)

    But as far as periods go I haven’t detected any difference in the length/volume/pain intensity/other tenderness since becoming vegan. Anyway, I thought this might be interesting to you and others.

    Cheers,

    Jess.

    Reply
  121. Hi Lara, I know it generally takes a while for nutrient deficiencies to affect periods, but do you ever see cases where a vegan diet has an impact on periods within a couple of months?
    I have been a long term vegetarian (18 years) and also had hypothalamic amenorrhea for 8 years from eating a low carb diet and over exercising. I recovered from HA last year by eating a lot more carbs and fats and exercising less. I ate a lot of dairy during recovery and had 8 healthy ovulatory cycles and clear skin.
    I went vegan 3 months ago for ethical reasons and my gut and hayfever immediately felt better off dairy, but I have had problems with my cycles and skin ever since.
    In my first month of veganism I ovulated but had extremely painful breasts. For the last two months since then I have failed to ovulate but have had CM and spotting so I think my body is trying to ovulate. My skin has also been very dry, I have been getting a lot more pimples and strangely my fingers have been really puffy all the time.
    Depite eating a lot, I did accidentally drop 1kg when I went vegan, but am still at a healthy BMI of 21.5 (when I had HA my BMI was 18.5). I’m unsure whether the period symptoms are because my body thinks I’m not getting enough food (still sensitive after HA?) or whether they could be the result of nutrient deficiencies so early in my vegan journey? I already take zinc but perhaps I need more iodine?
    Have you ever seen veganism affect cycles so quickly?

    Reply
    • I don’t usually see a vegan diet cause symptoms so quickly, but you’re on the right track by thinking about zinc and iodine. Both of those nutrients are significantly lower on a vegan diet and the deficiencies could cause problems with skin and ovulation.

      Reply
  122. This is such an interesting post and thread. I’m looking up ways to address my “PCOS” diagnosis given at about age 17, and now I’m 39 trying to figure out if I’m coming into early menopause or Perimenopause-or it’s possibly the PCOS. I’m seeing my PCP next week and looking into the Progesterone supplement to treat both issues. Currently at day 95 with no period and symptoms of both conditions. Definatly not pregnant (good as we’re not trying!) but frustrating as I am off.
    I also have been vegetarian the last four years with most of the diet plant based the last year or so. However a couple days ago I started feeling like I was coming down with something and was craving beef in the craziest way- so finally broke my vegetarian vows and reverently and with the most gratitude cooked and ate animal. And it was awesome, I felt so much better and so much more grounded, more than I have in years. It’s funny when I think back to the last time period in my life that I regularly ate meat I was much healthier, at a normal weight and my normal cycles- and way less reactive to stress.
    Acupuncture seems to really help with symptom management and am so grateful that is here for us.
    I’ve been practicing massage therapy about 15 years and practicing yoga as long, a couple years ago did Iyengar style yoga teacher training and began to also learn about Ayurveda, the Indian sister science to yoga which loosely translates to ‘life science”. In it we study the basics of the dominance of traits you are born with and the current state of your wellness. The traits you are born with (including physical, mental and emotional) are basic tendencies we all have – many passed down through family blood lines. And we all have some of each, which are in everyone in different levels at different times in our lives and labeled as air, fire and water, or Vata, Pitta, Kapha respectilvly.. Very deep complex science, but simple in concept once you get reading on it…
    In my client practice I see these traits (also called your dosha) across the board and can recognize patterns in clients, both individually and in dosha groups. Long story to get to my point, but in reading these blog comments I’m wondering about doshas of the person that wrote it. TFor example, people that have water dosha/Kapha dominant are generally big boned, strong features, tendency to be overweight but once they exercise it comes off easily, heavy dark period flows – and they are advised to be lifelong plant eaters and to have very little meat and cheese and sugar with meals being one to two times daily, to live their optimal life. On the other end is the Air dosha/Vata which when dominant are people with petit frames (very short or very tall), thin boned, very skinny (or obese), have skin conditions, scanty irregular periods – and they are generally advised to eat plenty of meat, cheese in moderation and hot meals several times a day to feel well in their lives. My dosha is primarily Pitta/fire so were sort of the middle road, and learning moderation is our lot in life. But I do have strong Vata/air tendencies when things go off kilter, from my mom’s side so it’s not so cut and dry. Plus your age, living climate, etc,. factor in how you display these tendencies when out of whack. So I’m wondering if the difference we see here between people is actually their dosha- their innate inborn elemental tendencies …and the way to supplement balancing out the whole body hormones could be considering that there is NO one right answer for everyone – some of you need to eat meat and some of you don’t no matter what your ethical stance on animal consumption is. I would prefer not to eat animals as I feel sad about their plight in life, but am seeing that I need to practice self compassion here and graciously will do so. I can’t help others heal when I’m so off, and if it’s from a lack in animal products I need to consider it seriously. It’s important mostly to find compassion first for your Self (love you first) then for others choices. Remember a whole lifetime brought us to this second and no has the same life story. Eastern medicine considers food as medicine with food having qualities that we take on as we take it in so we can support our health with the foods we need based on what our body is telling us, and that tale is different for everyone. I love the eastern approach in that it seems that they first treat the whole person to deal with the symptoms, where often times western medicine treats the symptoms only. Both approaches are so valuable and needed so it is great to have other realms to explore.
    Dr. Briden, I’m loving this website and your blogs and I can see you trying to highlight the fact that the whole person needs to be considered when there is dysfunction, not just the ovary! Very helpful information to bring to my doctor appointment next week to discuss Progesterone supplementation. Thank you for creating this site!

    PS:If you would like to asses your dosha you can try out an online one for free at: http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/prakriti-quiz/ I trust this company and they offer up tons of free information that seems to be legit in Ayurveda world.
    You could also look up to see if there is a local practitioner of Ayurveda near you.
    There is also a great book called “Prakriti” by Dr. Robert Svoboda but it may be a little deep unless you’ve done some reading up on traditional yoga and Indian philosophy.

    Reply
    • Hey, just wanted to let you know that my Dosha is Vatta/Pitta. I have petite skinny frame and my dosha have been confirmed by my pulse numerous times during Panchakarma treatments. I was strict vegetarian for 17 years( with only limited amount of dairy) and vegan for the last 3. I am 33 years old and was vegetarian during puberty and my pregnancy. I stopped eating dairy 3 years ago what made me completely plant based. Period every 25 days, no pain, no issues. I used to have 4cm endometrioma prior to pregnancy 6 years ago but that has resolved since then by itself. I feel like a lot of people just don’t know what to eat. Do you get your sellenium? Think Brazilian nuts daily. What about iodine? Kelp or dulse. Vitamin A and E? sweet potatoes and wheat germ. Do you eat natto for K2? Omega 3 from seaweed oil? I also take Dr Fuherman vitamin designed for vegans to cover any possible deficiencies. I am completely healthy, so is my son and my husband and a huge community of vegan families in NYC who I know for years. Everyone is super fertile and people have many healthy babies, toddlers, teanagers and grown up kids. I feel like a lot of people are visiting this website because they have an ongoing health issue and perhaps this diet doesn’t work for them, but a lot of people get sick on many different diets as well, so you never know.

      Reply
      • I find this article so interesting as I research to find out other people’s experiences while on a vegan or plant based diet. I’ve been vegan for about 10 years; never had any problems with my period. I did have to get off my diet when I was pregnant every time, my midwife thought I needed more nutrients in my body. For the past year my period stopped and I’ve never had any problems getting my period prior to this. I’ve always been regular since I was a teen. At first my period was irregular then it completely stopped. I began to slow down on my yoga practice and exercise less, it still did not show up. Then I did a cabbage juice cleanse & ate plain fruits & vegetables with no herbs or spices; my period came back for about 4 months then it completely stopped. Now, my diet consists of plant based (potatoes, vegetables, fruits, seeds, oils & nuts), no refined sugar & no carbs (only GF). I do take supplements like B12, phytoplankton, spirulina & multivitamin powder. I also try to eat seaweed/kelp once a week. I would like to know what I should add to my diet to get my period back. And also I’m starting to think is your period that important to have? I’m not trying to get pregnant anymore and I’m in my early forties. Or am I starting early menopause? I don’t feel or see any symptoms or sings of it.

        Reply
  123. Lara Briden I am concerned that you have not questioned the many vegans who have posted on this thread regarding being healthy and fertile on long term vegan diets (including myself). Are you only interested in cases where vegans are unwell because they support your hypothesis? Do you not believe these anecdotes? You state that vegans are low in certain minerals, vitamins etc but are you not interested when this is measurably not the case? To reiterate my previous comment, I am a long term vegan (28 years) whose only supplement has been B12. My Iron has been tested numerous times and has never been low (nor anything else except B12) in that time, including during both my pregnancies which resulted in healthy children. I conceive and carry easily and am robust with very regular periods all my life until the one before last which was late (I am 50 this year) Many long term vegan mother’s I know are similar. Do you think it is possible to be healthy and fertile on a vegan diet without most supplements? Remember that you probably only meet vegans in your practice who do have health concerns, don’t you want to know what does work for some vegans if you have clients that do want to stay plant based? Reading your comments it sounds like you are not at all open to learning about this and quite fixed that fertile good health for vegan women is impossible, which is frustrating when you know that is not so. Miri

    Reply
  124. I know this article was published a couple of months ago, but I thought I’d add my experiences to the conversation. I recently started eating eggs and shellfish (that’s all at this stage, but I’ll probably add fish and maybe occasionally red meat as well) after being vegan for 10 years and vegetarian for 10 years before that (I’m 32, so I was vegetarian in some form from age 12). I decided to start adding animal products to my diet again on the advice of a naturopath I’m seeing who specialises in fertility (and has echoed a lot of the kinds of things you say, Lara), as I’m planning on freezing my eggs this year and I want to have as good a shot as I can at being able to use them later if I end up waiting till my late 30s or 40s to have kids.

    Since my early teens I’ve had some degree of disordered eating, although nothing severe enough to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. Throughout this time I’ve tended to be either a normal weight or underweight, and there have been a few times over the years where my periods have been infrequent or irregular. I also have a strong suspicion that I had a short luteal phase for many years (I charted briefly in my mid-20s, when I was probably underweight, and I’m pretty sure my luteal phase was only around 7-8 days then), and I think I’ve also tended to have a follicular phase on the longer end (over 20 days). My periods have always tended to be fairly heavy and last 6-7 days, and I’ve had stubbornly low iron stores for most of my adult life (as well as some problems with fatigue that have probably been related to this).

    I had some blood tests done a couple of months ago and my ferritin was only just inside the ‘normal’ range, my zinc levels were also towards the lower end, some of my liver enzymes were slightly elevated, and my T3 was low (although TSH and T4 were normal). I wonder with the liver enzymes if eating too much fructose could have affected these, as I was eating a lot of fruit (and also quite a lot of dried fruit, although no processed sugars).

    It’s probably too early to tell if eating animal products again is making a difference to my cycle, but I’ve been taking vitex for a few months now as well as zinc, iron, iodine, selenium, B-vitamins, ubiquinol, vitamin E, and EPA/DHA, and also being careful to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits (although I’ve cut out dried fruit and am trying not to overdo it with fresh fruit), healthy fats, legumes and whole grains (I do eat gluten-containing grains as I’ve never been diagnosed as gluten sensitive and I don’t notice any symptoms from eating gluten, but I’m considering cutting these out), and to exercise in moderation and make sure I eat enough, and my cycles are definitely starting to look more textbook ‘normal’. I’ve been charting for about 6 months now and my luteal phase is at a solid 11-14 days, and I’m ovulating consistently at around day 18. My naturopath wants to see if we can shift my ovulation day forward a bit (I’m not 100% clear on what difference this will make to my egg quality) and get my iron and zinc levels up as well as get my liver enzymes back to normal and my T3 up.

    Anyway, apologies for the long comment – I’m really pleased that you’ve opened up this conversation, Lara, and I’ve found reading your blog and book really helpful. Thanks for the great work and for caring so much about women’s health 🙂

    Reply
  125. Hi Lara,
    I recently started a plant-based (vegan) diet for gut health (working with a nutritionist) – and I have noticed that my ovulation has changed to be about 1 week later than usual (I usually ovulate around day 19-20, now it is around day 25-26). Is this to be expected? I am a bit worried about it (I have had HA in the past, although fully recovered). It is only a temporary diet (with the purpose of healing some psoriasis) – 3 months – but I am just wondering whether this cycle alteration is to be expected after 2 months of this diet. Thanks Lara, and btw, I love your posts – they are so informative, and helped me so much when I had HA 🙂

    Reply
    • for what it’s worth, I would not prescribe a vegan diet for psoriasis. In my experience, the most problematic food for psoriasis is gluten.
      do you eat wheat? Check out Meagan’s patient story in Chapter 1 of Period Repair Manual.

      Reply
      • Thanks Lara, will do – I have your book, but it has been a while since I have read it. I don’t regularly eat a lot of wheat, however when I was actively trying to put on weight with the HA, I ate anything and everything – including a lot more bread – and I do suspect that this ‘inflammatory’ type of food had a major role to play.

        Reply
  126. I have recently let go of dairy. It has only been about two weeks now. I started my period, and I did find at the start. This is just day one that it is not as painful. Unfortunately, I am still experiencing cramping. I have only had one egg during this entire time of no diary. I decided to have scrambled eggs- that I didn’t make – today, and it seems my cramps went crazy. Now, I’m wondering if I have a sensitivity to eggs also. Typically when I eat them now, as long as I don’t wat too many I don’t have to worry about bloating or any pain.

    Reply
  127. I know this was written a while ago, but I thought I would share my experience. I always had heavy painful periods so when I went vegan I hoped these would get a bit better. My periods pretty much stayed the same, and less sore. I felt amazing for the first 18 months being vegan. I ate a whole food, plant based diet. No junk or processed food. I put on a lot of weight when I went vegan, so I was definitely eating enough! The weight gain was annoying as I felt I wasn’t eating excessive amounts of anything… anyway… At the 18 month mark, I developed severe PMDD. 10 days out of every month I was constantly suicidal and had to shut myself away from other humans as I turned in to such a horrible person. Even just crossing the road was difficult as I would be so tempted to jump in front of a car. It was utter agony. My life fell apart. Any plans or goals I had made crumbled in that awful 10 days and I had to start over every month. I can’t explain just how awful it was. It got to the point where I was saving up to get a hysterectomy so that the periods would stop. I didn’t want to believe it was the vegan diet. I soldiered on for another 6 months, and was getting dangerously close to suicide. As a last resort, before I made an appointment with a PMDD specialist I decided to eat meat and cheese again to see what happened… and the next cycle was completely normal…and the one after that..from then on everything was fine. I don’t know what it was about the diet that made me like this. I’ve had so many people hating on me and telling me I didn’t do it right. When things started going wrong, I switched the diet up in every way you can imagine..high carb, low carb, high/low protein, high/low fat, fruit based/veg based, raw/cooked, supplements, everything!!! I tried my very best but I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. At the time I didn’t live near any of these famous vegan doctors you hear about, so I was stuck. Sometimes I wonder if there are people out there for which a vegan diet just isn’t right. It angers me when ex-vegans get a lot of hate from the vegan community. Unless you’ve been there, it’s very easy to judge. I really loved being vegan, and I miss it. I hope one day to go back and try again, but I’m not sure. I have heard of a few cases where veganism has caused PMDD, so it’s a huge relief to know I’m not the only one.

    Reply
    • Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

      Going back on meat would have immediately given you some much-needed zinc, vitamin B6 and taurine– all key nutrients for mood.

      And yes, I’ve noticed that some vegans can get very angry when the diet is criticized. That’s why I’m trying to go about this as gently as I can. I just want women to be healthy!

      Reply
  128. Wow what an interesting discussion here – I have a bit of an odd one, i am a meat and fish eater (ethically farmed and organic) but i have been doing “Vegetarian January” and haven’t had any period pain,which usually cripples me 2 days a month,every month without fail.

    I already don’t have cows dairy, and have a pretty healthy diet with goats and sheeps cheese/yoghurt, eggs, pulses and lots of veggies. I also don’t eat gluten.

    Could this be histamines? I do eat either sausages / bacon / ham about once a week. Is that really enough to cause such a big difference?

    Weirdly my acne has flared up more than usual before my period though…

    Reply
    • That is interesting. It could be histamines, or it could just be beef or pork, which can be inflammatory for some people. You could try going without those meats and instead have lamb, chicken, fish, eggs etc.

      Reply
  129. Ever since I turned vegan, my periods were significantly shorter and lighter; in both flow and colour. I have 0 cramps. I used to have extremely heavy, painful periods, where they lasted 7-8 days and the flow was so heavy that i had to change pads every hour. I also now have 0 PMS and don’t crave junk.
    Why? Here’s why.
    In dairy in particular, there are growth hormones that the cow produces for their calf. Like us (because we are both mammals), they put in hormones for the calf to grow, just like us humans! So those hormones interfere with our hormones and causes a disequilibrium. Hence, cramps, heavy flow etc.
    I feel like veganism has detoxed my body and it’s true when physicians say that your menstual cycle reflects on your internal health, as does you skin (I used to have acne, no more!)
    So yeah, there you have it. That’s how it affected me and I really advise everyone to.

    Reply
    • yes, as I explain in the article, coming off dairy can be highly beneficial for periods and skin.
      But it doesn’t have to mean coming off all animal protein.

      Reply
      • Hi, I couldn’t help but comment on this as most medical literature states that bovine hormones are inactive in humans and that even added hormones have no effect on human health.
        What are you thoughts on this Lara? Cheers

        Reply
  130. I had the worst periods on the planet prior to going vegan! Now they are light and much less painful! I also got pregnant for the first time in my life at 44, after being vegan for a year. I did miscarry but the fact that I got pregnant in the first place was a miracle due to the fact that I have policystic ovaries. Now at 45, I am pregnant again, naturally, due to being vegan!

    Reply
  131. Hi Lara,
    I’ve been vegan for a little over 9 years. I initially tried veganism to reverse hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, “adrenal fatigue,” and painful/erratic cycles that resulted in a PCOS diagnosis (really enjoyed your article on PCOS causes and potential adrenal involvement, thanks!). At that time, I hadn’t had a period in 11 months. I switched to a low-fat, vegan diet that was strongly based on raw foods, which felt amazing as I healed. Over the course of about a year, I added in more cooked food and slightly more fat from whole sources (avocado, nuts, seeds, etc) while focusing on getting most of my nutrients from potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. After 5 months on a vegan diet, I started being able to track my cycles via temperature and changes to cervical mucus, but I still hadn’t gotten a period. During that time, I did get pregnant, so it seems as though I had started ovulating without bleeding. A few months after that, I did start having a proper period again, though it was fairly light with little pain. Since then, my cycles have become very regular (though a little longer than average – usually 31-35 days) with few issues (occasional PMS irritability). I was able to lose over 45 pounds during this time, too. I occasionally track my food intake with an app, so I see that I get lots of zinc, iron, and magnesium from dark leafy greens, beans, seeds, nuts, whole grains and vegetables. I always fulfill the RDAs for protein (and individual amino acids) eating a little over 2,000 calories per day. Iodine comes from a bit of seaweed every day, though I’m careful not to get too much as excess can trigger Hashimoto’s issues (the possible cause of my hypothyroidism). A selenium boost comes from a daily brazil nut. For omega 3’s, I take an algae derived supplement, even though I eat plenty of precursors from foods like flax and chia seeds (since conversion isn’t always reliable). Eating so many plants, betacarotene isn’t a problem, and conversion to vitamin A seems to be alright. And since I get plenty of K1 and have a healthy gut microbiota, K2 conversion ought to be top notch.

    I have noticed that if I eat more processed foods – like the meat replacers or refined oils – my cycles become painful and more erratic. I’ll also develop cystic acne, experience blood sugar swings, and feel generally less-vibrant… Which is why I try to stick to whole foods as much as is possible and practical.

    Thanks for doing this research and asking the community for feedback, I’m really enjoying learning from your work and experience.

    Reply
  132. I have been plant based for three years, and was vegetarian before that. I have not had my period for two years. I recently begun eating eggs and dairy again in the hope that my cycle with return. No change as yet. Would love to hear from/about women with a similar experience.

    Reply
  133. I was vegetarian for 17 years and now vegan for 3 years. I have a 5 year old son, trying to conceive for two years now. Had no problems conceiving first time around. I lost few days off my period after pregnancy and another 2 days in the past two years. I went from 28 to 23 day cycles. I am 32 years old. I confirm ovulation with ovulation kit and charting, my RE also confirmed it with ultrasound at 3 different days of the cycle. My period is 4-5 days long and is pretty normal, no pms pain, only slight breast pain. My fertility bloodwork is normal, my tubes are open. I take prenatal vitamin, B12, D3+K2, DHA/EPA. I recently started eating kelp seaweed and Brazilian nuts to get enough iodine and selenium and I eat sweet potatoes, dried mangos and carrots with some fat often to cover vitamin A requirements. I eat soy 2-3 times a week. Is there anything else I might be missing? Is there a way to make my cycle longer again?

    Reply
  134. hello Lara! I literally discovered your blog today and I am so happy about that. I hope you will be able to help me. I am 35 and my periods has always been irregular. I was an athlete until age of 22 but even after professional I have always been very active- currently I exercise about 5-6 times a week. my body fat is low around 10% but I don’t count calories. my period was sort of regular for about 2 years until 7 months ago when I become vegetarian then vegan and my period completely disappeared. I do eat a lot of all kinds of seeds (pumpkin, flax,sunflower, chia) nuts and grains (granola mostly). I am thinking maybe the phytoestrogens in seeds and grains effecting my lack of period? it has been probably 4 years since I started to eat a lot of seeds. I know there is such a thing like “seed cycling” but haven’t tried to cycle them. I think I may be eating to much of the seeds and nuts. I also have a fine layer of hair along my chin line, mostly blonde but about 10 of them are dark thick hairs. my supplementation:
    vitamin B complex, D, collagen, omega 3 fish oil, I drink “daily nutritional support powder that has all the vitamins and minerals and vegan protein.
    Would you have any suggestions for my case?
    kind regards,
    Karolina

    Reply
  135. Hi Lara! I’m just commenting as an FYI (not necessarily for advice). I became vegan about 5 years ago (previously was a vegetarian for 2 years). I’m 26 years old and have never taken birth control pills/had an IUD. I recently read your post on the importance of zinc and iodine which I never knew were so important on a vegan diet. I’m looking forward to adding those to my routine. Before veganism (even as a vegetarian), I had very irregular periods (they would skip a month here and there), but now I’m on a pretty regular 31-day cycle. I luckily bleed pretty lightly for about 3-4 days with the first day being the heaviest and have little no cramps the entire week. I do drink electrolyzed reduced water which may influence the no-cramping.

    Reply
  136. Hi Lara! I hope you’re still responding to comments here 🙂 my history is a bit complicated, I’ve always had period issues, namely amenorrhea and extreme pain on the day of menstruation. Likely exacerbated by a) a history of disordered eating (no longer a problem) and b) hashimoto’s disease. I’ve been on bio-identical progesterone cream numerous times, and when I take it, my period comes very regularly, but I usually gain a bit of weight, still experience a lot of pain, and it doesn’t actually solve the problem. I went off the cream about 2 months ago, and simultaneously started a vegan diet (NOT helpful as far as figuring out the real problem, I know). Both months, my cycle was 5 weeks instead of 4, and the pain was about the same (i.e. I usually have to take a day off). I have estrogen dominance, but not in the traditional way; both estrogen and progesterone are low, its the ratio that is the problem.
    I’ve just started Vitex and Vitamin E. I do have the progesterone cream left, as well as progesterone globuli, but would rather straighten it out without them… wondering if it could be an underlying liver or digestion problem? THANK YOU

    Reply
    • Hi Lara, I’m getting a lot of information from your page, thank you.

      I haven’t had periods for over 10 years, I had them when I was a teen, went on the pill for 5/6 years, came off it 3/4 years ago and have had 2 sporadic periods since then.

      I became a vegetarian around 10/12 years ago and became a vegan 1 year ago. I know my body has the ability to ovulate as I have ovulated in the past, and I’ve had lots of tests to see if there is anything else affecting them, thankfully there isn’t.

      I’ve never had a problem with eating as such, but I am a little worried about putting on weight.

      Can you recommend anything? Would really appreciate it.

      Kind regards,

      Sam.

      Reply
  137. I really don’t think you can lump everyone on a vegan diet as healthy or unhealthy, which you seem to be trying to do. I could be eating bread, pasta & fast food and be vegan. Or I can be eating 80% vegetables & fruit, take supplements and be vegan. Therefore have different results. Also, everyone’s body is different.

    I have been Vegan for 3 years, but I came off the pill a few months ago. Periods are very similar to before to always – last about a week, starts heavy/medium & transitions to light flow. Pretty regular cycles, 28 days or so.

    If you eat animals, you don’t care about them enough – they don’t want to die.

    Reply
  138. I’ve been vegan for 19 months. I’m 41 and I think possibly peri menopausal. I have had changes to my hair structure and went through a phase a year ago of having periods every 3 weeks instead of clockwork 4. However the last 6 I seem to be back on track. I also have an underactive thyroid. For the first time in 4 years my blood result did not result in me needing a higher dosage of thyroxine. It had remained the same. I feel fine although suffer with a lot of migraines. The other chance is that just over 1 months ago I moved to Thailand so think this has an impact on my vit d levels and also on migraines. I ovulate each month like clock work. I haven’t tracjed my luteal phase. I would love to make more progesterone as I worry about how I will feel in the future if I am peri menopausal now.

    Reply
  139. I am 38 year old female and have gone all vegetarian in a month and my period shortened in 4 days and I am never early. I looked up some preliminary research it does appear to be beneficial to have meet as it does affect the hormone levels. I feel the vegan has become a cult and it’s not how nature intended. Animals eat each other all the time in nature It’s a part of natual food chain. I am considering a new concept with moderation perhaps 70% vegetarian. It’s not worth it if I get an early menopause due to malnutrition. Just my two cents…

    Reply
    • As humans, we raise so many animals in awful conditions, you can’t say that’s natural. They don’t want to live like that. Just because we’ve done it in the past, doesn’t mean it’s the best way forwards.
      VeganSidekick <3 James Aspey <3

      Reply
  140. I found this thread and thought to add my experience. I became a vegetarian June of 2018. Shortly thereafter I became dairy free except for eating eggs. I eat foods rich in whole grain, vegetables and fruits. We try to stay away from processed foods and sweets. We gave up diet soda’s and only drink the occasional root beer if a craving occurs. I am not a coffee drinker but do like unsweetened tea. I was not taking any supplements to offset the new eating style.I didnt purchase books to help me along. I am terrible about going to see doctors (a habit I plan to break).

    Prior to making the switch to a vegetarian/dairy free diet, my periods were like clockwork. For the last 9 months, my periods have been irregular. They still start on the same start date but last longer than 10 days or are missed entirely. Other side affects have been headaches, moodiness, brain fog, times when i wake up tired, hair loss, and brittle nails. I have lost a total of 28 lbs during this time but have since been stuck at the same number for the last 4 months.

    Within the last month, I have started to take B12 and biotin supplements as well as an organic womans 1-a-day vitamin. In the last month, my period is still not normal but my hair isn’t coming out as bad, my nails seem to be on the mend and my brain fog and fatigue have improved. i have started to also add a little bit of milk dairy back into my diet (yogurt, cheese sticks, feta cheese). I have an appointment to see my gyno on Wednesday. Hoping to get your opinion as well based on the information given.

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  141. This is an older post, so I’m not sure if comments are still being read or not, but here goes! I’ve been vegetarian for 19 years, vegan for 18 of those. Recently, a blood test showed I have very low B12 and vitamin D, so I’ve been on supplements for a couple months now. My periods have always been short (2-4 days) and heavy, but the heavy is getting increasingly ridiculous (i.e. I can blow through a super plus tampon in 30 minutes or less on my heavy days). Bleeding through my sheets at night isn’t an uncommon scenario. I’ve recently experienced PMDD symptoms as well as cramping pain (and I’ve always been really lucky in the cramp department). Whether or not it’s diet related, I can’t say for sure, but it does feel like there might be a link there.

    Reply
  142. I’m mostly plant-based and 10 weeks pregnant. Due to research, over the last year, I’ve been taking iodine, selenium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D3 + K2, vegan omega DHA/EPA and a B complex with folate (not folic acid). I believe this supplementation helped me get pregnant. I am worried about keeping the pregnancy to term, however.

    In particular, I’m worried about my vitamin A intake, I think I’m probably ok on most other fronts given my blood test results. I know too much vitamin A is harmful, but does a deficiency cause harm to the fetus? Do you have any dietary advice?

    Reply
  143. Hello Dr. Briden!

    Just wanted to follow up on my comment from December 2017 to share the good news that I’ve still maintained a vegan diet and have gotten 2 periods since going on thyroid meds, with a blood test of progesterone confirming ovulation for my most recent period. So, it took a year and a half of trying different things, but I think the thyroid meds for hypothyroidism made the difference.

    Unfortunately, based on tracking my body temp and other signs of ovulation, it seems that my luteal phase was very short. My periods were also very light. My doctor has suggested using black cohosh to boost estrogen, but I am leaning towards using vitex again (used it about one year ago) to boost progesterone and help with the short luteal phase. I’ve also been experiencing very dry, irritated lips every few weeks, which I’m not sure may be related to the low progesterone too?

    Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer!

    Reply
    • I would consider supplementing some of the progesterone-supporting nutrients that you can’t get from a vegan diet. Namely, pre-formed vitamin A (dry lips could be a sign of vitamin A deficiency)–note: preformed vitamin A is very different from beta-carotene. Also, zinc, vitamin B6, choline, and taurine.

      Reply
      • I so appreciate your quick response, Dr. Briden! Yes, I supplement with zinc, vitamin B6, and taurine and recently increased my supplementation of pre-formed vitamin A. I’m not sure if I’ve ever supplemented with choline. Is phosphatidylcholine a source of choline? Thanks again!!

        Reply
        • Yes, phosphatidylcholine is a source of choline. I would give it four months on the vitamin A and then see where you’re at. Are you sure you’re eating enough food and calories in general?

          Reply
          • Good to know! I agree, I’ve been supplementing vitamin A on and off for some time, but I think I need to stay on a higher dose consistently to get my levels up. My doctor says I am not converting beta carotene well.

            And, yes, I feel that I’m eating enough food/calories. Over the past year I’ve increase my fat and calorie intake and backed off on exercise, resulting in a weight gain of nearly 10 pounds. Not a comfortable process, but I’m willing to do what is necessary to get my cycle back on track.

            So, it sounds like you believe it’s premature to supplement with vitex or black cohosh, correct? Can’t thank you enough for your help!!

  144. As a teenager I had really debilitating cramps on the first and sometimes second day of my period, I would have to leave work and just lay in bed horribly nauseated and sick all day. I started John Mcdougall’s The Starch Solution over 10 years ago. It got rid of all cramping and pms symptoms within a few months, and I started having a regular 24 day cycle with far less bleeding, and bleeding that only lasts for three days. It’s been that way for me all these years, I don’t even remember what period cramps feel like anymore.

    Reply
  145. Before I went vegan my periods were 7 days long every time, I’ve never had any pms semptoms at all. But I didn’t have regular periods. I would get a period about every two and a half months. Since I went vegan (about a year and a half), I have started to have completely regular periods, every single month (actually unfortunately, since I wasn’t used to regular), they aren’t really “lighter”, but they last about 5 days now. Still don’t get pms, but never did to begin with. But since my periods are regular now, I definitely think veganism helped my menstral cycle

    Reply
  146. I’ve been plant based for over 20 years. As a young teen i had horrible cramping. I ate a SAD diet, with dairy and meat. I went vegan at age 19 and have been meat,egg and dairy free ever since (i use honey and am not leather free, so not really vegan, but i use the term plant based to describe myself). My periods are regular and normal. No cramping. Ever. Not super heavy flows. Average length (5 days). I haven’t had any period problems at all for over 20 years (and I’ve had four babies in that time period,as well).

    Reply
  147. I’ve just dove into reading articles you have written about progesterone and stumbled upon this. I started menstruating at 11, by 14 they were extremely painful and heavy. 16 I went vegetarian, no change, at 18, vegan, no changed. I had my child at 23, breastfed for 3 years, period was back light at 4 months old, back with a vengeance at a year old. By now I was on a very healthy, organic, mostly raw, diet. At 27 I had endometrial ablation and no periods for about a year, then came back light. By 30, back and heavy. I’m 38 now trying once again to stop it as the for 2 to 3 days a month I hardly function. As of a year now I have also cut gluten due to sinus issues. If there are vegans out there with no periods I am very jealous. On another note, my child started at 11 as well and by 13, heavy and painful. Vegan since birth. Now 15, transitioning, that is another story, but on progestin and his periods have stopped. I am now trying same birth control with no results.

    Reply
    • Yes, there have been a few responses here from vegans with very heavy, difficult periods. It could, at least in part, be due to zinc deficiency. Here are the nutrients that can help to lighten periods: Zinc, iodine, pre-formed vitamin A. All deficient in a vegan diet. Please speak to your practitioner about possibly supplementing them.

      Reply
  148. Hi, Lara!

    I started to use birth control pill at 15, and during years I had problems like hair loss, I was always tired, breast pain, cellulitis, problems with blood circulation. I used to change into different pills, different hormones, but always same problems. I also always had problems with lactose intolerance, but I continued consuming this produts as I used to like it so much.

    At 27, 3 years ago, I decided to go vegan for the animals. With this vegan thing, it comes a huge desire to be healthier and improve my health problems. I started exercising. I looked for a vegan doctor, that prescribed everything I should eat in order to don´t miss nutrients. Real food + sunlight with moderation + B12 suplements. For example, a huge green juice with nuts and seeds for breakfast (collards/spinach/kale/orapronobis/other greens + tons of fresh fruits (bananas, avo, mango, persimon, tangerine, berries, papaya, watermellon, grapes, and a lot of others + chia/flaxseed + cashew/brazil nut/other nuts + coconut water/homemade vegetable milk/water). For luch, beans/lentil/chickpea/pea + corn/brown rice/other grain + vitamin C (brocoli/pepper/tomato/other) + legumes: at least 5 collors, he said! For dinner mushroons, sweet potatoes, tahini, avocado, or repeat lunch, etc.

    I don´t know if it is the exercises I do every day, or the real vegan food (or my hapiness to no more harm animals), or my forever distance for dairy poison, or my off pill life…. or maybe everything together? But my period has been perfect since that (it was a little bit messy in the first 3 months) but after this it has been perfect. No pain, 27-28 days, ovulation in the midle, no acne, no hair loss, no liquid retencion, no lazy days anymore…

    I have never suplemented Zinc, as I eat a lot of pumpkin seeds, black and pinto beans, peanut butter, tahini, sunflower seeds, chia, flax, nuts, whole grains (always with vitamin C fruits and vegetables)… I have a check up every year and it is in a super good level. I have never had vitamin D suplemented, as I live in Brazil and we have it from free (sunlight). My iron (ferritin/other iron things) is similar as when I used to eat meet (no anemia) – (thanks to the black beans cooked in the iron pan + lemon juice?) My B12 is super good and I have 5.000 mcg/week (it has already been low but my doctor adjusted it). My proteins are ok, as I gain a lot of muscle (we have vegan champions bodybuilders all over the world).

    We can´t denny: A vegan lifestyle can be super healthy and super good for our hormones.. if we eat in a correct way!

    Just to complement: I have soymilk, tofu, tempeh, misso, PVT, with moderation, in the right days (5-14 day) – just before ovulation, never after.

    I love your blog, Lara! It helped me a lot to take a step to get rid of hormones birth control and to open my eyes about how bad it can be for us!

    Reply
  149. Hi Lara, I’m 36 years old & I’ve been vegetarian for 18 years & vegan for the last 8 of those, though do on occasion eat eggs. I was on the pill for approx 15 years & have been off the pill for around 3 years now. I’ve had no troubles at all with ovulating (I track ovulation through recording my bbt daily), however I do tend to ovulate early (around the 10th day) & have a fluctuating & short luteal phase (between 9 & 12 days), which I suspect means a luteal phase defect.So my cycle is usually only 21-23 days. My periods are usually 3 days & are fairly light. I very rarely have period pain – but have had a couple of eps of severe pain, & with endometriosis in my family, the doctor suspects I could have endo, but I think perhaps my vegan diet is helping to manage this. I have been chronically low in B12, Zinc, Iron & Vit d – so I take these as supplements. I also take magnesium. I do also eat a lot of hemp seeds – which I’m hoping is providing me with omega 3/6, & rarely eat sugar/processed foods. I’ve never been pregnant or tried to conceive, so I’m unsure if/how my fertility is affected – this is something that does worry me.

    Reply
    • Just to add — I’ve only started eating eggs occasionally in the past year, & prior to that I was still ovulating fine & I’ve not noticed any difference with ovulation (or my periods) re: eggs/no eggs.

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  150. I think that being vegan actually permanently disrupted my periods. I became vegan – super healthy diet, all cooked at home tons of beans and grains and veggies, not a lot of sweets or processed convenience foods – when I was 25. Until then, I’d been off HBC for about 2 years and got my period regularly, but not like clockwordk I was 5′ 6″ and ~120# at the time and in grad school (stress!), so I think irregularity had to do with body mass and stress. Flash forward a few years later and I had stopped menstruating entirely DESPITE gaining about 10# and reducing stress. I changed my diet due to recurring dreams about meat and noticing that every time I ate soy, I would get a hot red itchy rash all over my face. I definitely feel that my blood sugar is balanced eating a diet that includes animal protein, but I still don’t get a period. I’ve been diagnosed with lean PCOS and was put on the Mirena IUD by my GYN who thinks it will prevent any health issues related to amenorhea. I haven’t had a period in 3+ years and I’m in my mid-thirties. I’m at a total loss. I’m slim, great skin, no hair falling out…and no cycle. It makes me feel very unconnected to my feminine energy and my ideal health. I’ve noticed a lot of slim bloggers who WERE vegan, then were diagnosed with lean PCOS, I keep wondering if that lifestyle with the limited diet is part of the problem.

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  151. here in UK salt hasn’t been iodised since the 1940s although white flour is fortified with iodine but many vegans also pursue a wholefood diet so will not be getting iodine from anywhere except sea vegetables and hardly anyone eats sea vegetables here

    iodine deficiency is the top preventable cause of babies being born with disabilities

    it’s good that US iodises salt but when people cut back on salt there is a risk of iodine deficiency resulting in hypothyroidism

    have you looked into taurine ? it’s important for vegans to take a taurine supplement as a vegan diet provides none

    Reply
    • That’s exactly my point though, omminvores are getting their iodine mainly via supplement form anyhow and if someone is on a whole foods plant based diet and knows they’re not consuming fortified foods more often than not that person is educated enough to know they need to take a supplement. This isn’t a vegan issue, it’s an issue for anyone not consuming those fortified foods.

      Taurine is non-essential meaning that the human body will make all the taurine it needs provided it’s receiving adequate amino acids which is easily acheived provided the person consumes adequate calories.

      Reply
    • Anyone who doesn’t consume sufficient dietary iodine would be at risk for a deficiency. If someone is plant based but loves seaweed and consumes it regularly they likely won’t have an issue at all, if someone eats meat & dairy but HATES seafood & seaweed they’re at risk provided neither person is using idodized table salt. That’s exactly why iodized table salt became a thing, deficiency among the general population was a real issue. Fortification of our foods has come into place not because vegans are causing rampant deficiencies but because there was a need to ensure the general omnivore population was getting adequate nutrition.

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  152. I was pescetarian for 5 years before becoming vegan 9 months ago. I used to have incredibly painful menstrual cycles that put me on the floor… this lessened to occasional cramping after switching to a vegetable focused diet with some eggs, dairy and fish. I’ve kept track of my cycle since 2013 and can say I’m very regular, and would have 5-7 day heaaavy flow periods, with 6 days being average. Since becoming vegan, I’ve noticed that my flow is shorter 4-5 days and much lighter and not painful at all which is what led me to this website, googling about lighter periods and veganism. I take spirulina, vitamin c, and a multivitamin with b12 and iron most days.

    Reply
  153. Hi Lara,

    Mi name is Mery and im not vegan nor vegeterian, but i went into challegen with my vegan BFF.
    We use to eat a loooot, brown rice, grains, quinoa, lost of vegetables, lots of fruits, lots of greens, but we suppressed fats, all kind of them, even almonds, wallnuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil…
    I was feeling super good but when it came to my period it lasted like 4 or 3 days andsuper hiper mega extra light… like almost dissapears, still have normal pain, but i have the syndrome of polycystic ovaries.. and Im used to the extra heavy 7 days flow.
    It really scared me, but i was thinking about including to this way of eating the good fats to see if my body can make a balance, cuz I know is not normal what im going thru with my period.

    Thank you! Hope to hear from you..

    Reply
  154. I must be defying the odds! I don’t supplement any of those (except B12 which even meat eaters should take), my blood work is always good (I was iron deficient BEFORE being plant based and it’s incewased and stayed since) and my cycles seem to be firing haha. I mean I even took HBC for 11+ years from teen years on and seem to have recovered from that. Plant based vegan almost 5 years. :-D. Good information to know though, I do believe the same can and does apply to those choosing a SAD diet or any poorly planned diet variation.

    Reply
    • I dont think you are defying the odds. Almost all the long term vegans I know menstruate regularly and most only supplement with b12. As many have a children as vegans they must be fertile (including me conceiving easily aged 42 after 27 years vegan) I dont think the author of this is interested in knowing about healthy fertile vegans who dont supplement (apart from b12).

      Reply
  155. Soy isn’t good for everyone. For some women it can cause oestrogen levels to rise and cause all sorts of issues. I had very high estrogen levels diagnosed by bloodtest and saliva through an integrative doctor. The level was so high it was assumed I was supplementing with oestrogen. At the time I was eating alot of soy products as I was a vegetarian (vegan now). After the results I cut soy out of my diet and retested. My estrogen levels dropped to within the “normal” range. Also, I was tested on the same day of my cycle. There are many articles about this alternative view on soy. Also, soy is highly processed and GM unless it’s certified organic.

    Reply
  156. My periods have been a disaster since they begun. I have been on the pill since I was 15, went off for a year, and had to to go back on due to PCOS symptoms. I have been vegan for four years. Can’t say they have gotten any worse and my bloods are always perfect.

    Reply
  157. Hi Lara,
    Just read your post about the importance of ovulation in women’s health. As a student of naturopathy, someone who has had period problems since day dot and someone who has been vegetarian most of her life and vegan for 4 years, this certainly piqued my interest!
    I should also add that I had an eating disorder for approx 4 years in my late teens/early 20’s, which for obvious reasons interrupted my cycle.
    At present, I supplement with B12, Zinc, Vit D, Iron and Molybdenum (for digestive issues with sulphurs, not related to reproductive issues) along with a herb mix containing St Johns Wort, Sceletium, Rose, Maritime Pine, Rhodiola and Vitex. For the first time in my menstruating life, I’m now getting periods within a monthly cycle, little to no cramping, mostly bright red bloods, though a little more viscous than I would expect (more of a runny honey than water texture), no clots, no migraines and distinguishable ovulation (temp increase and very noticeable egg white mucus)… So, I think it’s been the Vitex for the most part, but I can’t believe how good everything is feeling! Previously to this current intervention with herbs etc. I was experiencing cycles of 50ish days, agonising pain and migraines with light sensitivity for the first day or so… so, big improvement!
    I’ll keep reading your posts and will be interesting to keep learning more. I think I’m going to bleed on day 28 this time, which will be a lifetime first!
    Thanks and love,
    Cecelia

    Reply
  158. This is my first month/period since being vegan.
    I was on the Nuva Ring for about ~4 years which eventually made sex painful and periods pretty painful too.
    Although my periods were always pretty painful. I decided to go off the ring due to these things.
    The first period I had without my NR I was so bloated, had lots of blood clots (but I’ve always had many clots) and pretty awful cramps. My periods (with or without birth control) have always been pretty awful. Usually heavy the 2nd day and lasting about 5 days.
    I also have PMDD which makes my PMS so terrible. I decided to try veganism because I was tired of feeling so depressed for up to two whole weeks before my period. That was about 1 month ago.
    I started my period last week and its almost as if I’m not on my period at all. I feel no psychological effects and no physical effects aside from bleeding. This month my bleeding is not as heavy, more like a normal period day for me pre-veganism. I’ve had absolutely no cramping, very, very minor bloating, and hardly any PMS. There’s definitely far less blood clots as well.
    When I decided to go vegan I wanted to make sure I was still supplementing for what I would be lacking. I’ve been taking a women’s multi vitamin daily with B12, zinc, and iodine in it and supplementing with protein powder about 4-5 days a week.
    I don’t want my period to completely disappear, but so far I’m really happy with the results.
    Overall there’s no pain, no terrible depression from my PMS, and no bloating.
    This is just the first month though.
    Any tips for what I can do to keep my periods healthy and present?

    Reply
  159. Hi Lara, Haz again also my period s are exceptionally light, in between 25 day – 28 day cycle and only really bleed for one day…I did have 2 miscarriages in 2013… Been checked out, womb is healthy x

    Reply
  160. Hi there, I have been an on and off vegetarian for nearly 20 years (I’m now 38) and vegan for 6 months. I’ve felt under the weather, more so than I ever remember on and off for the last 6 months…I have been taking calcium, vit d and b12 and and vit c. I don’t handle stress well generally and it has worsened since training to be an OT, I have noticed I get ill at the moment after a long walk say…I don’t want to eat meat but really don’t like feeling like this and long to feel strong and vibrant as I once did! Xxx

    Reply
  161. I’ve been a vegetarian since age 6, vegan since age 15. I’m currently 33 years old. I started menstruating at age 12. My cycles are consistently 26-27 days, ovulating on day 12. I have medium to light bleeding during my periods with little to no cramping. I have two children, both of whom were conceived the first month trying. I don’t know what my cycles would be like if I ate meat, but being plant based for nearly my entire life certainly hasn’t hurt anything!

    Reply
  162. Been vegan for 12 years now, never had any issues. In fact, I was previously on a 21 day cycle with heavy bleeding and intense pain. Since going Low-fat whole food plant based I have stretched that out to 28 day cycle with no pain at all and a 1-2 day bleed. Will NEVER go back to eating animal products or high fat items since seeing the change!

    Reply
  163. Hi Lara, i have been on a vegan diet about four years. I eat only unprocessed food, a lots of organic fruits and vegetables. I also do eat a lot oatmeal and almonds, i get so much zinc, iron and vitamin E from these sources. I take seaweed for iodine, d-vitamin and sometimes b-12 vitamin. I feel so good on this diet, it has healed my very heavy periods, pain and undiagnosed pcos.

    Reply
  164. I was a vegetarian for 25 years (and a vegan on and off for some of that time) but I recently introduced fish into my diet and it has really helped regulate my periods.

    I suffered from hypothalamic amenorrhea for several years previously. After working with Lara to introduce supplements and make lifestyle changes, I got my periods back in June 2016. I believe a key factor in them resuming was me putting on weight and reducing my exercise.

    My periods continued between June 2016 and the end of last year, but I was aware that something still wasn’t quite right, because my cycles were very short, averaging 22-23 days, but ranging from 18-25 days. I was still a vegetarian this whole time.

    It was clear that I had some kind of luteal phase defect, so I continued to make efforts to increase my progesterone levels naturally.

    At the end of last year, I accepted I needed to do more to address the issue, so I decided to add fish into my diet. I was really shocked at how quickly it had an impact. I’ve had three cycles since then, two of 29 days and one of 28 days. It seems clear to me that it has to be the fish that is responsible for this, since I haven’t made any other dietary or lifestyle changes.

    I now wonder the extent to which my long-term vegetarianism has affected my health. I know some people thrive on this kind of diet, but I am clearly not one of them.

    I am now starting to feel properly nourished for the first time and have been thinking about eating meat too, even though I still feel ethically unsure about the idea.

    Reply
  165. Thank you for another great post, Dr. Briden!

    I started eating a plant-based (vegetarian) diet in my early 20s. I was also on hormonal birth control during this time, so my period is impossible to gauge. Although, I tried going to an exclusively vegan diet and I noticed a change in my health within a month. Clumps of my hair would fall out in the shower and I had unexplainable rashes on my arms. I felt weak, tired, and constantly hungry. I did not take any supplements at this time. After a few months, I started consuming eggs and raw dairy and felt much better.

    Soon after I went off hormonal birth control, started eating meat again, and still did not have a period for almost 2 years. I now have had periods for almost a year now thanks in part to The Period Repair Manual. My periods are now on a more regular cycle, although I usually only have 2-3 days of light flow. I am wondering if I should start taking supplements like zinc, vitamin D, magnesium, and maybe iodine again. I’ve had blood tests that show low levels of estrogen, so I am also considering seed cycling and increasing my intake of meat. I still eat a mostly plant-based diet (my partner is vegetarian), with eggs almost every day, and meat on occasion. I am learning to listen to the needs of my body, which has been an incredibly healing journey to self-love.

    Reply
  166. Hi Laura! I have your book and I love it 🙂 I was diagnosed with lean PCOS because I have very irregular cycles (every 5-6 months), an AMH level of 11 ng/mL, LH 16.3, FSH 8.8, and polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. My androgen levels were all normal. My fasting glucose is 84, fasting insulin 4.4, and hemoglobin A1C is 5.2. I’ve been trying to conceive for two years and I’ve gotten pregnant twice, but miscarried. I’ve been refusing fertility drugs and want to do it naturally.

    I’ve always been a normal weight with a BMI of 22.3, but I’ve been on and off a vegan diet for 5 years. I also had binge eating disorder for 7 years where I would binge, restrict, binge, restrict. I have hypothyroidism and I’m on 50 mcg of Levothyroxine, but I’m still constantly cold, tired, and my resting heart rate goes down to 41 when I sleep (and I am NOT athletic or in shape). All my endocrinologist cares about is that my TSH is “normal” at 2.0. I do not have Hashimoto’s, my antibodies were negative.

    Four months ago I started taking Inositol, eating meat/fish/eggs, and increased my calorie intake. I’ve been eating a diet similar to Paleo but not as strict. I’m eating moderate carb, about 35% of my calories. I ovulated and had a period in October, and then again last week! It was a 98 day cycle which is really good for me. I started seeing a new reproductive endocrinologist and just yesterday he switched me to Nature Throid. I’m hoping it helps my hypothyroid symptoms better than the Levothyroxine.

    Reply
  167. I was raised on a diet that included all meats and seafood, home cooked meals, junk food, everything. My first period was at age 12 and lasted one month. After that my periods were regular in cycle length, but increased in duration with symptoms like breast swelling/tenderness, acne, cramps, clots and mood swings as I grew older.

    I have a family history of hypothyroid, miscarriages, insulin resistance, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimers (Apoe4), and liver disease.

    So, when I was on my own (20 years old) I began to experiment with changing my diet to affect my health as a means of disease prevention.

    I cut out pork, beef, chicken, eggs, dairy and seafood. My periods improved in all aspects. I kept tweaking my diet as I encountered new information, adding in more vegetables, eliminating gluten, adding probiotics. I went on and off dairy and eggs over the years, even trying local raw goat milk and local organic eggs from people i knew how how they were feeding and raising the animals. I started working on organic farms, growing and cooking my own vegetables and herbs and even some fruits since I live in the subtropics.

    I do much better without dairy products. I experience no acne, lighter periods, less inflammation all over my body.

    I tried out many different ways of eating vegetarian and vegan over the years and this is what I found for someone of northern european genetics with the family history above.

    A diet heavy in tropical fruits is the absolute worst for me. I experienced loss of cognition, increase in allergic response to foods, decrease in stomach acid which led to nutrient malabsorption. My TSH went up to 9.8 and came down to 4.25 once I switched my diet and decreased the fruit and added in more vegetables and supplemented with iron, Vitamin D, B12, a multivitamin that included b vitamins, selenium and zinc. I do Not have high antibodies associated with thyroid disease and my T3 and T4 were fine. It was simply malnutrition combined with genetic susceptibilities.

    I went too many years without any supplementation. There was so much misinformation about B12 when I was younger and trying to make good decisions about my health, that I thought I was getting enough, but in reality I wasn’t getting hardly any for 17 years and I hit a wall and started having B12 deficiency symtoms. Thank goodness for the internet, because I ended up reading from better sources, ordering my own blood tests and getting my levels up from 200 to 900, and of course, what a difference in energy levels and cognition.

    I have a tight rope to walk in terms of preventing heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, but also getting essential nutrients to support my thyroid, hormones and cognition.

    I do best on a mediterranean diet with lost of vegetables, greens, beans, some seeds and nuts, and fruit is just berries and cherries.

    I have never been pregnant, so I am not sure of my fertility, but I do have ovulatory fluid at the regular interval of my cycle.

    I have just recently, the past two months, had streaks of blood in my regular fluid in the luteal phase, so I am looking for ways to boost progesterone, because with my family members history of miscarriages and low thyroid, I assume there is a tendency to low progesterone.

    I am reading Dr. Bredesen’s book about preventing Alzheimer’s and it is amazing how all of the diseases listed above are related to each other.

    I currently take a multi-vitamin Vitamin D, B12, silymarin and seaweed for nutritional and liver support and Magtein, PQQ, COQ10 and Lion’s Mane for cognitive support/prevention.

    It is obvious to me that some people have genetics that allow them to thrive on a strict vegan diet without much supplementation and unfortunately some, like myself, who do not.

    I am still currently eating mediterranean style, plant based, grow my own greens, cook my own meals, vegan with a bunch of supplements that I need to function, and am always tweaking things as I get better information.

    I’ve been cautious about adding in any animal products due to increased risks factors for some of the inflammatory diseases. If I had access to uncontaminated waters to harvest shellfish like oysters, clam and mussels, I would probably add that in small amounts, but I don’t.

    My health is not 100% due to sub-optimal thyroid function and likely imbalanced hormones. How much of that is due to diet and how much is due to genetics, I am not sure. I would imagine it is both.

    Reply
  168. I’m still irregular as I was on the pill for 17 years. I take vegan vitamin d, vegan omega 3 dha EPA, Thorne basic b complex, inositol. Doing acupuncture too. Next cycle will be much better I’m sure. Been off the pill 6 months.

    Reply
  169. Hi Lara. I’m almost 29 and have been eating a mostly plant-based, whole foods diet for a few years – 80% vegan I’d say. I do eat meat eggs or fish a couple times a week. After reading your book a month ago, I cut out gluten, dairy, refined sugar and alcohol to bring my menstrual cycles back to normal.

    This brings me to my issue – for the past three months, my periods have been so much lighter and shorter than usual (mostly brown, tiny amount of red blood), with spotting in between – almost like I have a constant, very light period. I also experienced something very strange – fertile cervical mucus directly following my last period, then went back to spotting. I’m confused because I feel great and the chronic eczema on my hands has disappeared, but I’m trying to get pregnant this year, so I’m a little worried.

    Before this, I always had longer cycles with heavy bleeding (except for a few years of dietary restriction in my late teens when I had no bleeding at all – this led to a PCOS diagnosis). My periods returned after I quit dieting, and although my cycles were quite long, they were mostly regular until now.

    I take a food-based prenatal vitamin (includes zinc), and I recently began supplementing with fish oil and magnesium.

    Do you have any idea what might be going on?

    Reply
    • The constant spotting suggests that something is up. Had you just come off the Pill? Or is there any chance you’re pregnant now? If not, it could be a number of different issues including possibly anovulatory cycles, which could be from your diet–although I would think that 80% vegan should be okay for ovulation. You’re not restricting carbs, are you?

      Please check with your doctor and see if she wants to do an ultrasound and order some blood tests including thyroid, iron, etc. And also please read my book–especially Chapter 7 to see how you can reestablish ovulation.

      Reply
  170. I’m in my late twenties and I’ve been vegan for almost 2 years, I take B12, vitamin D and iodine daily. After reading this post last week I started taking zinc too. My period has not been an issue up until recently, since it’s always been regular and not that different but it has become slightly lighter in the last year. But last time it was very light and lasted only for a day or two (as opposed to 3-4 days) and I’m worried it’s disappearing. I’ve now started getting night sweats (also had them right before my last period when I wasn’t taking zinc yet). I’m worried I’m doing something wrong but I don’t know what? I’m not sure if it’s related but I had also been eating soy products daily (though not A LOT), I had no idea soy might affect periods? I’ll have to read more about that and I’ll cut down on soy for now.

    Reply
  171. I went plant based about six months ago. I am not super strict about it. Around once a week, I’ll eat something with dairy and/or eggs and/or meat. I started my period back (after pregnancy and extended nursing) a few months ago. It’s been completely normal and I am ovulating. I hope that helps.

    Reply
  172. I am 27 years old and I have been following an (almost) exclusively plant-based diet for about a year [I say almost because there have definitely been a few times where I had sweets I know had eggs/dairy). About 2 years ago, I cut out all meat and continued to eat dairy, eggs, and fish. Then a year ago, I cut all of those out.

    I was put on hormonal birth control at the age of 15 and I took it until I was about 22. I cut cold turkey and stayed off until I was about 24, then I took a different brand of BC for about 4-5 months before I took myself off again. I have now been off the pill for about 2.5 years and will never go back. Before getting on the pill (like my mother and many of the women on my moms side, so I was told), I had terrible cramps and heavy periods. I don’t recall experiencing acne before I was put on the pill though. I also had an incredibly regular and normal time span of a cycle. I was put on BC because my doctor said it would lighten my period and nix the cramps, and it did just that (at a very high cost to me, unfortunately).

    When I took myself off at the age of 22, I experienced moderate acne on my face, chest, and back, heavy-ish periods, and again cramps from hell. My period came back right away and it was regular right away. At this time, I was eating all kinds of animal food and was not exclusively plant based. I was off the pill for roughly 2 years and, despite making some other changes in my life (exercise, less processed food, alcohol, sugar, switching personal care products and makeup, starting to buy organic, etc) I still experienced problems with my period.

    Fast forward to now, I am plant-based and my periods have begun to improve (1) because of acupuncture and (2) stress reduction. I do take various supplements because I am deficient (zinc, iron, and vitamin D) but I didn’t take blood tests when I was still eating animal products to see if I was deficient in these then, so I think it would be a bit unfair to say I’m deficient only because I’m plant-based. I traditionally had a heavier period, so it would make sense that I was iron deficient. Most people are also deficient in Vitamin D and I live in a region where it’s winter/overcast 5-6 months out of the year, so that plays a part.

    For me, I’d much rather take a few supplements then eat animal products. I am not someone that tries to force veganism on others (I prefer plant-based because I focus on what I DO eat and not on what I don’t – and everyone knows eating Whole Foods is good for you!), and I believe the pros of eating this way outweigh the cons. I feel lighter in more ways than one. In my case, I had problems with my period when I was a meat eater, and I continued even when I started cutting things out, so I think I had deficiencies all along.

    Thank you for asking and it has been very interesting to read responses!

    Reply
  173. I have been eating a whole food, plant-based vegan diet for over two years and have never been healthier in my entire life.

    I had been on birth control in my late teens/early twenties before becoming vegan, and coming off birth control as a vegan went very well without any issues. I had previously had horrible debilitating periods in high school. I suspect radically improving my diet helped a lot, but probably more important was the fact that I used iodized salt all throughout college. My diet at my parents’ home in high school was the standard American diet with virtually no source of iodine.

    About a year and a half ago, while vegan, I made the mistake of eliminating iodized salt from my diet. Within a couple of months, I noticed the debilitating cramps returning, worsening every month. I could not figure out why, because I was eating so healthfully, getting lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in my diet. It took me almost a year to figure out what the missing element was… I’ve been supplementing with iodine now for a couple months with the hopes of repairing the damage done by an iodine-deficient diet.

    Veganism was certainly not the problem. If anything, being vegan greatly attenuated the amount of pain I would have experienced had I been eating the nonvegan, iodine-poor diet of my high school days. I’m hopeful that I will be able to resolve my ongoing menstrual issues. I was taking a bladderwrack supplement for a while, but I’m now taking Violet Iodine and plan to do so for at least four months.

    I’m convinced that a largely or exclusively whole food, plant-based diet (with adequate iodine!!!) is the optimal diet for menstruation. No excess estrogens coming from animal products. No TMAO production from the choline in eggs. No inflammatory, cancer-promoting garbage. Low in saturated fats that increase estrogen reabsorption from the gut. No nasty meats putrifying in my bowel and slowing down elimination of toxins. Much less exposure to PCBs, dioxins, heavy metals, and other environmental pollutants. No need to exploit animals or ecosystems. I can’t say enough good things about this diet.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your observation about iodine. I agree that iodine is a very important nutrient for healthy ovulation and menstruation.

      Reply
  174. Hi Lara,
    I am 48 and became a vegan 27 years ago for ethical reasons. For the first few years I followed a low fat high carb vegan diet. I lost a few kilos and was slim BUT I developed acne on my chin and my mood became worse. I then decided to follow a higher fat and protein, lower carb vegan diet and my acne cleared and mood improved dramatically. In regards to my cycle, it has always been regular from a teenager and since becoming vegan at 21. Now I am 48 I have noticed slightly shorter cycles and increased breast tenderness (which very well could be peri-menopause) but taking some DIM has brought things back to normal very quickly. In terms of fertility, I had my first child at 39 and my second at 43. Both naturally conceived. With the second pregnancy at 43, I knew my signs of ovulation and became pregnant straight away. The first pregnancy took about 4 months of TTC.
    For both pregnancies I did follow a pre-conception program and was supplementing with zinc, a pre-conception multi, vegan EPA/DHA capsules, co-enzyme Q10 and vitex. These supplements and the herb vitex are very commonly recommended by naturopaths, as you would know, whether someone is a vegan or not a vegan. I do agree that vegans can be lower in zinc, but according to where you live, soil mineral content will also play a role. If I were eating nuts and seeds grown in the middle east or Mediterranean, perhaps my zinc levels would be higher.
    In regards to diet, I was interested to read Dan Buettner’s Blue Zone information on health and longevity and that in the Blue Zone areas 95% is plant based and only 5% animal based. His recommendations being “retreat from meat” and “diminish dairy” . Also on their website information on a study showing plant protein eaters live longer. https://bluezones.com/2016/12/new-study-plant-protein-eaters-live-longer/
    I am sure you are also aware of the study showing “Replacing animal sources of protein with vegetable sources of protein may reduce ovulatory infertility risk.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3066040/
    Whilst the Blue Zone areas and the study above are not based on a 100% plant based vegan diet, I feel they certainly give merit to eating less animal products and increasing plant foods.

    Regards,
    Lisa

    Reply
  175. I have been vegan for four years and my period is great. I got pregnant a year and a half after going vegan, and in that time I had been having regular 28 day cycles with 4 day bleeds. Got pregnant on the first go and had a perfect pregnancy (extreme nausea the first half but that was all) and a perfect birth. Quick, at home, no interventions or drugs. Baby is literally the healthiest guy around (also vegan) and has never had to go to a dr or hospital, and he is bigger than everyone else and is more advanced than his age (terrifying). After 16 months of breastfeeding and I’ve got my cycle back, straight into the 28 day cycle 4 day bleed. This time I’ve been hit with headaches, bloating and extreme tiredness for the first time but I realised after 2 cycles that was because I was not looking after myself (mum life) so I started getting organic boxes again, having veggie packed smoothies everyday, sleeping and having 1 morning a week to myself and I’m back to having a great bleed. I found everything for me improved with going vegan and I’ve seen this with my friends and family, especially friends with endometriosis and extreme period pain.

    Reply
  176. have been vegan for 11 years now (im 36), and have had no negative changes in my period, nor in my hormonal profile. before i went vegan, i didnt have period pain, heavy bleeding, or bad pms, just mild bloating/water retention and some food cravings, but nothing that wasnt manageable. and my cycles were always regular, from the time i was 14 (after a year or so of irregularity). so im surprised when i hear about a vegan woman having massive changes to their period or even losing it altogether, and i wonder if they arent in a caloric deficit, which can cause the loss of a period. a lot of paleo women report their periods stopping, which is usually when they arent eating enough calories, even though they are strict paleo and eating lots of animal products. raw diet supporters report this too. i cant believe the people on youtube who argue that losing your period is healthy, and something you should aim for, thats crazy to me. and the “logic” they use to argue their point, its laughable at best.

    Reply
  177. I am 40 years old and I became a vegetarian at the age of seven, then shifted to a plant based diet over ten years ago. I’ve only experienced positive effects regarding my health and cycle since I choosing the plant based route. Previous to giving up dairy, my periods were very painful and heavy and my endometriosis symptoms were awful. I do take specific supplements like, zinc, berberine,magnesium, DIM and bio identical progesterone, etc. However, all of those choices still didn’t eradicate my heavy periods, so I opted for an ablation about four years ago and haven’t had a period since. Though I still deal with some cramping around ovulation, which I assume means I’m still ovulating? It’s definitely frustrating not knowing where I’m at in my cycle…personally, would never recommend an ablation.

    Reply
  178. I have been vegetarian my whole life – 31 years. Until a few months ago I have always been a lacto ovo vegetarian. Before going on the pill at 19 I had long cycles with light bleeding for 3 days. About 8 months ago I came of the pill. My period returned after 6 months. I stopped eating dairy, gluten, caffeine and soy for a whole month when my period returned. I am vegan with the exception of eggs, goats/sheep cheese and honeys. I also only ate organic and continue this. I have had 3 periods. My cycle is 42 days long one average (sometimes longer) and a have a 3 day light period with no cramps pain etc. My period is currently MIA – I should have had it 10 days ago. I have had negative pregnancy tests. I am wondering if I need to introduce meat into my diet or take certain supplements. Every morning I have vitex, rhodiola, ashwagandha and a pre conception multi vitamin ‘elevit’. I am wondering if I have light and long cycles due to a diet lacking in key ovulation ingredients. Thanks for reading and hope to hear your wisdom

    Reply
  179. Hello Lara! I’m vegan since 2 years and i’m having great and nice cycles (28-31 days) with 2 anovulatory cycles by year approx. I visit your website (and then purchase your book on amazon) because since a few months, I suffer premenstrual dysphoric disorder. I realize now that my major problem is not my diet, but my alcohol intake who drives my hormones on rollercoaster. I drink one glass of wine every day…. I will have to work very hard to reduce my consumption. But it will be difficult and I do not know where to turn for help. I will try to take Vitex. I already take skullcap for anxiety attacks (which works great). I will also turn to B6, but what dosage? Thank you very much for your book and website. It is really helpful.

    Finally, I would allow myself to say that we should worry more about omnivorous’ deficiencies. A cardiologist friend of me told me that if all his patients became vegan, he would lose his job. 😉

    Reply
  180. I have been a vegetarian for the past three years and am currently in the process of going off the pill for pcos. Every day I take a deva multi, hair skin and nails, and a vegan vitamin d3 gummy. I take a vegan omega 3 every other day. Before going on the pill my periods were always normal but very long and heavy. I don’t think I will ever start eating meat anytime soon but I would like to cut out diary and just stick to eating eggs that have been humanely raised.

    Reply
  181. Hi Lara, Is it better to take chicken and eggs(I don’t consume any other forms of meat) that are NOT organic than going vegan? Because the antibiotics,hormones etc sound really scary.

    Reply
  182. I was vegan for two years, age 17-19. My cycles were very irregular, but they always have been (except for the last five months- I have no idea why, but knock on wood!). When I did have a period, it was always seven days and pretty heavy, and I was beginning to show symptoms of PCOS. I always tried to eat well- not remotely a “junk food vegan”- and saw a nutritionist during that time, but that diet didn’t do my health any favors and was ultimately why i gave it up. I do have a vegan forum I visited during that time to thank for my discovery of the Diva Cup, which I HIGHLY recommend to any woman who hasn’t tried it 🙂
    Speaking of nutritional deficiency, I finally had my zinc and copper levels tested and confirmed my suspicion that I am low in zinc and high in copper. Lara, do you have any idea why supplementation with 15mg zinc citrate would cause debilitating insomnia? After i made that connection I bought liquid zinc gluconate so that I could start with a very low dose, but even that caused insomnia. With PCOS and many zinc deficiency symptoms, I would really like to address this.

    Reply
  183. Hi Laura! I eat a plant based vegan diet, but I’ve been on and off it for a few years. I have “thin” or normal weight PCOS. My periods are usually 6 months apart, sometimes 4 months apart. I’ve gotten pregnant twice in the past few years, but both ended in miscarriage. I’ve tried eating a paleo type diet (with a good amount of carbs) and I just didn’t feel good on it. I feel my best eating mostly plant based because I have chronic headaches and migraines that eating plant based helped tremendously. I’m really trying to regulate my ovulation and periods. I keep hearing from all the fertility “experts” that dietary cholesterol is really important for healthy hormones. I started adding back in organic pastured eggs, coconut oil, and wild caught salmon into my diet. I’m hoping that will be enough to help restore regular ovulation. Do you have advice for someone with PCOS on a vegetarian diet? I don’t have insulin resistance. I’m sure a strict Paleo type diet might be what’s “best” for my PCOS and hormones, but I don’t feel well on a meat heavy diet. And feeling good with a minimal amount of migraines comes first, then fertility is second for me. Migraines are awful.

    Reply
    • Just curious, when you tried Paleo, were you also eating dairy or eggs? Cow’s dairy and eggs are common food sensitivities that can worsen migraines.

      And if you’re not eating red meat, then you almost certainly want to look at taking a zinc supplement to help you to ovulate.

      Reply
  184. I’ve been vegan for 8 years, now. It has definitely improved my overall health – it cured my lifelong anemia and my blood is perfect, now. I do FAM and I have regular ovulations with long, healthy luteal phases. My period is still a bit painful but lighter and much more bearable – I used to end up in ER from the pain, and my cycles were more long and irregular before. I think it’s sad there’s so much bias towards Weston A. Price Foundation pseudoscience in FAM and hormonal health circles.

    Reply
    • Forgot to say, I supplement with B12, as recommended. I also recently added vitamin D, and it is helping with my mood during the winter when there is no sun.

      Also, I think the problem with more environmentally-friendly animal agriculture is that the meat demand is simply too great for it to be sustainable. The current industrial system arose in the first place *because* of the meat demand and trying to make things as efficient and productive as possible, not because humans hate animals, want to destroy the environment or poison ourselves. So even if we are to be eating meat as a society, the numbers need to substantially reduce. Also, ethically, there is no nice way to kill someone who doesn’t want to die, and who is sentient and can experience pain. Unless unavoidable for survival and health, I see no reason anyone in modern society should consume sentient beings who can and do suffer. We have evolved technologically but I find it sad our compassion has not evolved at the same rate, and this goes not just for animals but also fellow humans.

      Reply
  185. Boy, did you open a can of ‘worms’. I commend you Lara for trying to get a conversation going, do a bit of informal research and get a fair and balanced view of what is happening in the general population. As naturopathic practitioners we can become biased because of the patients we see and treat; we are unlikely to see those who are doing well! So I get your question, totally. It’s a shame some woman have taken that on as a criticism.

    Reply
    • Thanks for commenting Lorraine. Actually, I thought this comment section went fairly well. Not nearly the number of angry comments I was expecting. What do you observe with your vegan clients?

      Reply
  186. I was vegan for 14 years ! Ovulate every 21 days, bloody painful periodes, then at 32 decide to introduce egg, sardines, and eggs roe, my cycle was every 23 day, less painful, and way more
    energie. Now at 39 i never going back to vegan, i eat eggs, bacon, turkey, salmon, chicken,
    some occasional grass fed meat bio. No gluten, no dairy, and my cycle as improve and change a lot, it is every 27 day, no cramp, no bloathing, no fatigue, no more hot flash the night before periodes, and the sleep is better, and the big change was less loss of blood, i use menstrual cup, so i know the mesure of blood each month, since i introduce meat it 30ml less blood.
    And bleed just 2-3 days just 1 and half eavy, before it was solide 4 days.

    Reply
  187. I have been vegan for 3, almost 4 years and ovulate like clockwork. I struggled with amennorea prior to my diet change as I was underweight and eating an unbalanced diet heavy with animal protein and very low in carbs. After I switched to eating a vegan diet my body slowly returned to normalcy with the help of vitex and obviously, a better diet and returning to a healthy weight. I don’t currently take any supplements other than consuming foods fortified with B12. I get my blood work done about once a year and it’s always perfect. Oh and I run marathons, so I’m far from “deficient” …

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your story Kelly. Which is also a story about how you had previously lost your period to a low-carb diet. That’s something I see a lot with my patients.

      Reply
  188. I’ve been a vegan for 16 years and get my period every month without fail. I don’t take any supplements but the almond milk and nutritional yeast I use are fortified with B12. I have never had any deficiencies and feel great. This way of eating seems to work for my body and I love it!!

    Reply
  189. It’s so lovely to see all the happy and healthy vegans here! I transitioned to a vegan lifestyle about 6 months ago. 3 months in I stopped taking the pill after almost 10 years. I originally went on the pill when I was almost 17 as my periods were irregular and excruciatingly painful. I would miss days of school and work because I couldn’t get out of bed. At that time I had no idea about fixing my period health naturally and neither did my mum or even my GP. 7 weeks after stopping the pill and of course sticking to veganism I got my very first real and natural period after a very long time! It was a very exciting time! Haha never knew I’d be that happy. My second period is due in 1 week so I’ll see if it arrives on time. I track my cycle using the app Flo. I find its very detailed and personal once you input all your individual information. I take on a daily basis B12 and vitamin D. After reading Lara’s articles on zinc and magnesium for period healthy I’m going to start taking a combination vitamin of magnesium and zinc plus D3. Just before moving to veganism I found cutting out dairy milk and products had an affect almost straight away (I think I was slightly lactose but never realized). My post-pill has flared up, just like how it was in my teens, acne on face, neck, shoulders and back. It really sucks but I’m trying to keep it under control and cover it up for work etc. I hope it will calm down in the coming months hopefully. My mum and sisters both suffered with acne as well.

    Reply
  190. I have been vegetarian (only eating cheese) for 8yrs and fully vegan now for 2.5yrs. I was on the pill for 10 yrs and periods light and regular. I went off the pill, detoxed synthetic eostrogen and was pregnant as soon as I tried. My period since going off the pill (4yrs now) have been regular (every 28days). Since having my son my period is heavier but perfectly regular. My iron is very high, my b12 is high and zinc levels normal. I do regular blood tests with my naturopath to check. Being vegan has had no negative effects, only positive to my health.

    Reply
      • My VIT D levels have always been good so never supplemented. I only supplement zinc when run down (which isn’t often). Iron i have only started supplementing as my periods are heavier since having a baby – I supplement only when I have my period. B12 I supplement. The rest I source naturally and levels are good. Many people vegan or not have deficiencies in vitamin D, and iron deficiency also is an issue with meat eaters. Many people are deficient with zinc also as our australian soils are depleted of Zinc. The issues you present are not unique to vegans.

        Also I’ve had a perfect vegan pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding experience. No issues and still breastfeeding 2.5yrs on. My boy is vegan and thriving. Above with development and very well adjusted, rarely sick.

        Reply
  191. Before I was vegan I had very painful heavy periods until I went on the pill at 17 years old. I went vegan at 23 years old. I’ve now been vegan for 18 years. I stopped taking the pill when I was 29 and got pregnant on the very first try after being vegan for almost 7 years. I gave birth to a big healthy baby when I was 30. Because I was breastfeeding regularly I didn’t get my period back for 2 years. I got pregnant on the very first try after 1 period and I had my second baby at 33. I breastfed again so my period didn’t return for 2.5 years and was a little irregular because I was still breastfeeding but after 1 year became regular. I had regular periods with 28 day cycles, ovulating every time for about 2 years. At 37.5 years old, we decided to try for our third and last baby. I tracked my cycles and ovulation and became pregnant again on the very first try. This time my period returned after ten months because my baby was much more interested in solids than my first two. I’ve been having very regular periods every 28 days and ovulating each month since then (the last 2 years). My periods are heavy for two days and light for 3 days.

    Reply
    • And I forgot, I’ve mainly taken fortified soy milk and nutritional yeast rather than supplements for B12 and generally don’t take other supplements. Occasionally when I’m travelling overseas and missing our summer sunshine, I take a vegan vitamin d3.

      Reply
  192. I have been vegan for six years. I don’t take any supplements, though I do drink soy milk that is fortified with vitamin B12. I eat a varied and nutritionally complete diet.

    My periods are always regular. I’m never late, the only time I’ve missed a period was when I was pregnant. Speaking of pregnant, while vegan I’ve been pregnant and delivered a healthy baby. He is three now, has been vegan his whole life (fed on vegan breastmilk until he was old enough for solids), has infinite energy and has never had a health issue. Not to mention he hit all his milestones incredibly early and can read (at the level of a six year old).

    Additionally, I was iron-deficient anaemic throughout my childhood and teenage years. I was on pills, liquid iron and occasionally had to have an infusion because the former never worked. Since going vegan, for the first time in my life I’ve had normal iron levels, even without supplementing. This is frustrating because I was always told to eat extra red meat and fish in order to try to keep my levels up. I was also relieved of lifelong constipation issues.

    I didn’t go vegan for my health and thought the health aspect was mostly propaganda – I didn’t care though because I went vegan for ethical reasons. That it cleared up many health issues I’d been having my entire life was a huge – albeit welcome – surprise.

    My periods used to be painful to the point I would have to miss school, cancel appointments, the pain would sometimes be so bad I threw up, etc. Since going vegan they have been much less painful, though I’m not sure how much of that to attribute to getting older.

    I hope my experiences contribute to your understanding going forward. 🙂

    Reply
  193. Hi, In answer to your questions about vegan periods. I have been completely vegan since I was 21 and am now 48. I had not eaten red meat since I was 14 and chicken and fish since 15. I grew up eating an omnivorous diet. I first menstruated almost on my 13th birthday. From the start I bled heavily and for up to a week with terrible period pain, to the extent that I had called the doctor to my house (well my mum did), and in my late teens had to miss work on the first day of my period. After going vegan at 21 my periods improved considerably and reduced to next to no pain, probably 5 days long with 3 heavy days (also stopped getting eczema). So veganism made a huge health difference for me. As a vegetarian teenager and vegan adult I was tested for iron many many times and have NEVER been low, including whilst pregnant with my 2 children, born when I was 33 and 43. My periods have been regular as clockwork through my whole life, I menstruated again after giving birth 3 months after my first birth and 6 months after my second, I have been breastfeeding for a half a decade with each. Fertility has always been a “too much not too little” problem to me and I also had 2 terminations in my 20’s despite being careful with contraception. I was lucky enough to conceive easily with my only intentional pregnancy at 42. I as yet have no symptoms of menopause. For the first 8 years as a vegan I took no supplements or fortified foods but then came up low in B12 (the only thing I have ever been low in) and now have that supplement whenever I remember. I have no other supplements but I give my 5 year old daughter a multi vitamin because she doesn’t really eat many vegetables and never stops moving!. I have been slim to average weight most of my life but got fat in just the last few years, probably because I keep making calorie dense things for my tiny girl and then eating them myself so they don’t go to waste! My teenager is tall and eats heaps. I haven’t read other period comments but I bet this is the longest and goes on the most tangents! As another aside I am into vegan permacuture.

    Reply
    • oops just realised after all that that I maybe didn’t give enough details about my actual periods, so yes áge 13-21 heavy 5-7 days with 3-5 days very heavy. 21 until about mid/late 30’s getting lighter as I got older, more like 5 days with three heavyish, and then after mid/late 30’s to now (late forties) more like 3 -4 days with 2nd day semi heavy only. When younger was aways 28/29 days, then older 27 days which it still is. during a time of stress started getting 23-25 day cycles about 6 years ago and recently i think they are more like 26. After each birth when my periods returned they were heavier for a time and then settled again (but no-where near as heavy as before 21, where I would bleed right through a maxi pad every 2 hours for 5 days – still never low in iron and never too high either, I think just lucky!). Now apart from day 2 I could have one of those old maxi pads in all day probably and not leak. ha ha enough detail?

      Reply
  194. Hi Lara,
    I find this interesting as I have been vegan 5 years (at the end of this month) and was vegetarian for 3 years before that. My periods are regular, light and I have successfully conceived 2 children. My first born was conceived first try and she is 2 now, my second I conceived on our second month of trying and I am currently 31 weeks pregnant.
    Both pregnancies have been very easy living on a plant based diet, aside from my ferritin being on the low side and taking a liquid supplement in third trimester.
    I do not take any other supplements whilst pregnant or not. My blood results are always good?

    Reply
  195. I have been 100% plant based for 6 years with periods lasting between 4 and 6 days, regular and pain free. I’ve also had 2 full term pregnancies and breastfed for over 5 years. I ensure I consume all of the nutrients I need through food except for B12 and in colder months I take a VitD supplement.

    Reply
  196. Hi Lara,
    Thanks for your article, I am 25 years old and have been vegan for 7 years. I got my period for the first time at 15 years of age, but it was very irregular. I went on the OCP at age 16 (to correct my cycle), but only lasted a few months due to undesirable side effects. It took a year for my period to come back after going off the pill. When I was 22 I ended up with CIN1 even though I didn’t have HPV. My gynaecologist put it down to my uterine lining not shedding often enough. At this time I decided to study nutrition, so that I could figure out the best way to fix my hormones.

    This is my diet / supplement routine as a vegan nutritionist;
    – sprouted vegan protein power almost everyday (the one I use provides 7mg of iron per serve)
    – a source of omega-3 with every meal
    – algae based EPA/DHA supplement everyday
    -300mg of marine calcium from Lifestream almost everyday
    -biomedica phyta D at least a few x per week
    -sublingual b12 at least 4x per week
    -A source of vitamin C with most meals to increase iron absorption
    -I soak / sprout most of my nuts, seeds, legumes and grains to make the zinc, and other minerals more bioavailable + eat a lot of mineral enhancers such as onion and garlic.
    -I eat a lot of healthy fats, but keep an eye on my omega 6:3 ratio

    My periods are now regular and my pap results are completely normal. Considering that my periods were out of whack before going vegan, I think it’s pretty awesome that I’ve managed to correct my hormones on a plant-based diet.

    Hope this is helpful 🙂

    Reply
  197. Hi Lara!

    I read your articles and book with great interest. What a fabulous thread to be a part of – thank you for this dialogue.

    I have been in touch with your clinic a couple of time to see if you would take me on as a consult, but have been told that is not possible. (If that changes, I would love LOVE to work with you!!) Please see my story below, I hope it is of any help to you –

    –Age 1 underwent strong medication for 4 months for potential health risk
    –First period at 13, irregular (one/two/three/four per year) until age 18 or 19
    –Prescribed the pill (to also help clear up skin)
    –HPV/laser required age 25 after abnormal paps
    –Consistent bronchitis / thrush / a case of glandular from age 14 until 26 or so (plenty of antibiotics)
    –Age 26 started my real health journey into lessening toxicity / supplements and general health+wellbeing
    –Age 27 got off the pill, intake of animal was really only chicken + fish + lots of dairy (red meat once per week if that) due to my general taste preferences
    –Age 28 quit career/partner and went abroad for 16months – a vegan lifestyle just…happened while I was away, very unplanned
    –Between quitting the pill and setting off overseas, I had a cycle approx 4-6 times within 12 months
    –Have not had cycle since the month I left Melbourne to travel (June 2015)
    –Age 30 (Dec 2016) ultrasound showed 20+cysts on both ovaries
    –Age 31 (April this year) endocrinologist suggested it looks like PCOS (also have hetero MTHFR mutation)
    –Last week bone density tests suggest osteopenia

    Current supplements: probiotics, magnesium, zinc, b12, ovositol, vit c (have dabbled with acupuncturist amenorrhea blends and also vital in the last few months also)

    My current symptoms are obviously lack of cycle for 2.5years (scary), 10kg weight gain around mid section (have currently gone from 50-60kg since June 2015) and mentally lack of direction + clarity in life.

    I have had significant difficulties in finding a practitioner to help me who’s on the same page (e.g. the specialist endocrinologist suggested the pill, metformin and exercise!), to look at my bloods and show me where the insulin resistance is showing, where the low grade inflammation markers are, how my thyroid is, what is the root cause of the PCOS / what is my phenotype or even getting a definitive diagnosis. I have been working with acupuncturists and naturopaths and yes, I’m practicing a blood sugar stabilising lifestyle, stress reduction, movement and now need to look at bone strengthening exercises. But I still don’t feel I understand my full picture and situation.

    (Current naturopath is whole food plant based proponent who suggests all saturated fat (even olive oils, coconut yoghurt etc) are damaging to the endothelial and insulin resistance, similar to Dr Greger’s research. So my fats are coming from avocados, nuts, seeds, olives).

    If you can recommend anyone (I’m in Melbourne, but happy to do online consults) who can REALLY analyse the bloods and my scans, please share and I will contact them immediately :)!

    Love your great work and I hope this isn’t too much of a novel!!

    Love, Farley

    Reply
  198. I too was vegetarian / vegan for a few years, I think about 3, so I thought I’d relay my experience. I was not 100% strict, however I rarely had animal products, and was strictly no seafood as I did not want to deplete the oceans any more. My periods stayed regular but got more painful every month. To the point where I would have waves of pain that caused me to vomit. I had severe breast tenderness before each period starting from ovulation and increasing until my period. I stopped being super strict, but limited my diet to mainly starches and vegetables because I believed that was healthy. (We called it semi-vegetarian back in the day, occasional cheese but not much else). My recovery after the gym was poor and I felt exhausted for half an hour after doing weights. In 1996 I read the Zone Diet book and immediately changed my diet because it made sense. Much lower carb, a lot more fruit and veg, way less starch, and some protein at each meal. The difference was amazing for my breast pain – the next month there was none. I was amazed. The menstrual pain continued – it was not until I started taking 2000mg EPA+DHA omega 3 capsules that it went to almost nothing. I got even better results when I added being gluten and dairy free doing paleo eating a few years later. Oh and increasing the protein gave me instant recovery after going to the gym, and I started getting strength gains so much faster.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for joining the conversation, Julianne. In your analysis, why did a semi-vegetarian diet worsen your period pain? (A few other women have reported the same, which surprised me.) I think it must have been from deficiency of zinc and iodine… But it could have been deficiency of omega 3?

      Reply
      • I think for me it was mainly the omega 3, it could also have been zinc and iodine, also vitamin D. In my Fitgenes profile I found that I have many genes SNPs that code for inflammation. One of the most potent anti-inflammatories for me is omega 3. I find I still need to take it as a supplement, or I get tired and achy. Not nearly as much as I did pre-paleo diet, but I seem to need more than average to maintain no / low inflammation. The difference in adding omega 3 was profound. I had already changed my diet to a zone one, and considerably increased fish, but it was not enough to get relief. My joint inflammation (auto-immune) was considerably less with the omega 3 as well.

        Reply
        • It was also the high starch low protein diet. It does not work well for me. I do better without grains and starch from all veg, and fruit. For me a high starch diet is inflammatory and increased my PMS, although as I said it had no effect on period pain. The paleo diet did help though. Gluten grain removal stopped my joint inflammation / swelling completely

          Reply
          • Interestingly – on the zone diet I did not cut dairy – probably ate more. Adding omega 3 and still eating dairy – considerable relief. Paleo was much better – no dairy. Hardly needed much omega 3 since paleo. Zone diet too – I did not eat seed oils. So that was not a factor, but I probably had excess seed oils, and low omega 3 eating veg/ vegan. Oh and another interesting thing – some people said evening primrose oil. For me that was much worse, tipped over into excess inflammatory eicosanoids I believe. I cannot take EPO even in small amounts.

  199. I was vegan for 2 years, and my cycle was pretty awful during that time. It was pretty unpredictable in terms of length, anywhere from 38-45 days. I sometimes ovulated twice, and when I did ovulate, especially the last 4 cycles before I finally went to a naturopath, I had excruciating pain in the ovary that was producing an egg. It was so painful that it would hurt to put weight on that side of my body. From ovulation-day 1 of bleeding, I had no energy. I was lethargic, and it was pretty difficult to get out of bed. I also felt pretty depressed and found myself crying quite frequently during those phases. I also had pretty heavy back cramps and would barely bleed, and the blood that was present was brown. When I went to a naturopath and had bloodwork done, she said she’d never seen vitamin D levels so low. It certainly was not due to a lack of exposure to sunlight; I live in a part of the country that has sunshine over 300 days a year, and I spend a lot of time outside. My naturopath was respectful of why I was vegan and gave me a number of readings, and overwhelmingly, I learned that animal fat is necessary to absorb vitamin D. My cycle has vastly improved since I started eating meat again about 4 years ago. I understand environmental and ethical reasons for not consuming animal products. To that end, I do not support the dairy industry because of the ethical and environmental implications, in addition to it wreaking havoc on my body. As a former vegan, it’s really important to me that, when I buy animal products, they were treated in a way that I want my pets to be treated.

    Reply
  200. Hi Lara! I’m no longer vegan or vegetarian but I was for a long time so I thought I might contribute. I became vegetarian around age 13 then vegan at age 17 until I was about 20. I had extremely painful periods throughout my teenage years and then developed pretty bad acne at 19 or so, seemingly out of nowhere (after having clear skin throughout my early teens). In addition to being painful, my periods were extremely erratic and at times I was going without menstruating for 3 to 4 months. By age 21, I was a wreck. My skin was terrible, my periods unpredictable and painful, and I was in a terrible place emotionally. I also took emergency birth control a number of times in my late teens (but have never been on the pill), which I now regret as I wonder if it has contributed to my reproductive/hormonal issues.

    At age 21 I started reintroducing meat into my diet as I was always starving and exhausted. Earlier this year I also stopped eating fructose (no juice, dried fruit, sugar etc. but I do allow 1 piece fresh fruit per day) and started consistently taking zinc and magnesium supplements after doing some reading on your blog. I’m now 25 and my skin is the best it has been in a long time and while my periods are not perfect, they are definitely improving. I’m now menstruating every 35 – 40 days and while my periods are sometimes painful, they’re a lot more manageable than before and don’t disrupt my life as much. I would still prefer a shorter cycle, perhaps 35 days at most, but this is nonetheless a huge achievement for now!

    Reply
  201. I’ve found that eating a plant based diet has really helped with my overall health. I know a lot of people who adhere to eating vegan focus solely on carbohydrates, and avoid all fats. I personally eat plenty of fats likes nuts, oils, avocados, etc. and feel great doing so. I took birth control pills for almost 5 years and decided to stop two years ago. My periods were non existent for the first year when I stopped, and then slowly came back every couple of months. Since eating a plant based diet I seem to be getting my period about every 5 weeks exactly. As far as supplements go, I try to take a B complex every day along with iron (which I had extremely low levels of even when I did eat meat), DIM, and vitamin D. I know I need to take Zinc as well but I’m not sure how much I need daily… now I haven’t been plant based for very long yet (6 months or so), and if I notice that it interferes with my periods, I will consider adding some meat back into my diet, but definitely not dairy! I mainly avoid meat because of my love for animals and how the meat industry mistreats them. But I’ve also heard from a lot of vegans that avoiding meat has regulated their periods, helped their skin, helped with weight loss, and I thought I’d give it a try! So far so good!

    Reply
    • Hi Kristen, thanks so much for commenting. 30 mg of zinc is a nice safe, standard dose.
      Do you think you’re ovulating with your periods so far?

      Reply
  202. Hi Lara, I have been a vegan for 20 years (ethical reasons) and have no issues with my periods. I am 49 years old and am happy and well on a plant-based diet. I am a naturopath and herbalist so have a good knowledge of nutrition and that does help. Also choline is found in a wide range of plant foods albeit in smaller amounts. Sunflower lecithin as a supplement is useful in this respect. I met you briefly at the AHSNZ conference this year. Your talk was interesting.

    Reply
      • Hi Lara, generally just vitamin B12 or a B-complex. I use herbal medicine as preventative medicine for e.g. turmeric for it’s antioxidant and anti-inflammaory action. I ensure that I eat plant-sources of zinc e.g pumpkin seeds. I also drink nettle leaf infusions regularly for its mineral content. Occasionally will add some sunflower lecithin powder into food. So I generally don’t take a lot of tablets/capsules.

        Reply
        • I forget to add that I do take a plant-based EPS/DHA supplement a couple time a week to top up those long-chain fatty acids and complement my dietary ALA intake.

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  203. Hi
    I️ turned vegan if February of this year. I️ chose to adopt a vegan diet as I️ was told but my consultant that I️ would have to be put on birth control in order to control the symptoms from fibroids. Well, I️ did not want to have a coil and I️ did not really want an operation having had two before so I did my own research.
    I️ do not believe that my fibroids were considerably large they just happen d to give me side affects.
    Within a week of doing the diet I️ noticed a huge change in my energy, my skin etc and my first period was brilliant.
    Since then I️ have allowed the diet to adopt areas of unhealthy – who knew so many delicious treats were vegan (Oreos I️ blame you). This less health version of the vegan me appears to have allowed some of the symptoms to start creaping back in.
    I️ take iron regularly as I️ have been anemic for a long time now. I️ have had blood tests over the summer with the only vitamin being slightly low was vitamin D.
    I️ still believe that there is a vast improvement in my sypmtoms. I️ would not know about ovulation etc.
    Hope this helps.

    Reply
  204. Hi Lara,

    I’ve been vegan for 7 years and my diet made my periods a little lighter (although they weren’t bad before) and all PMS disappeared to the point where i would have little idea when it was due except for the calendar. Hardly any irritability, mood swings, achi-ness. I don’t know about fertility as I have completed my family and am not attempting to fall pregnant, however, from all other signs, ovulation has been occurring.

    I am a nutritionist and work with many vegan clients. There is a big difference between ‘vegan’ and a whole food plant based diet that includes next to no processed ‘vegan’ foods. My own period improvement on a whole food vegan diet has been reflected in my clients periods and they have expressed joy as heavy, painful periods went away over several months. From mentoring naturopaths, I have no reason to believe their fertility will be negatively affected. This is because they eat a balanced whole food diet that includes the four food groups of legumes, vegetables, fruit and whole grains with some nuts/seeds. I do not recommend processed vegan foods that simply omit meat and dairy.

    That said, I supplement with Vitamin D3, zinc (I find that although I hit the RDI for zinc, my immunity is better when I supplement; lower absorption I expect), and choose to supplement with EPA/DHA (algal) despite having adequate ALA in my diet, and of course, Vit B12 (which the government actually recommended meat eaters supplement with also). I recently started taking iodine as my mother had thyroid disease; however, all my own thyroid tests have been perfect, so it appears I had what iodine I needed. I have regular blood tests and have always found my iron levels to be optimal, as have been all of my vegan clients. All of my clients with suboptimal iron are meat-eaters! For me, supplementing with these 4 supplements is well worth it to be able to avoid the negatives associated with eating animal foods.

    I have also worked with a vegan naturopath who has been practising for over 20 years, for whom most of her clients are vegan. Fertility and overall health for herself and her clients is excellent, as long as they follow the rules of how to eat plant based and get what they need, making almost every bite count each and every day.

    Reply
  205. Hi Lara. I have been a vegan for 26 years (I am 45 years old). I was born to a vegetarian mother – very ‘way out there’ for the 1970’s 🙂 My mother had dreadfully painful periods and she tells me she would lie on the bed in agony – back in the days when women had the idea that they were supposed to suffer!

    Anyway, so I got my first period at 15 (fairly late) – I had an ultrasound to check ovaries but all was fine. I was a little overweight – long back story there!

    I gave up red meat at 12 – my parents divorced (dad was a meat lover) and I followed my mother’s philosophy of caring for animals. I further gave up all meat at 15, and was happy as a vegie. Then at 19 I had skin issues and thrush. My dr tested me and found I was allergic to dairy. He gave me Cannestan and said “I’ll see you every 6 months”. I was devastated. Was there no other way? Then another turning point in my life came when I met a vegan personal trainer only a few weeks later. Wow was she fit! I couldn’t believe it – all these stories about vegans being pale and sickly were wrong if only you followed a good nutrition plan. So within 2 weeks I had given up dairy. The problems went away, I lost some weight – everything seemed great.

    Then when I was 22, a major emotional trauma happened in my life which i won’t go into here. Nevertheless from that point on, my periods were painful. Not necessarily heavy – but painful enough to require NSAIDs around the clock for 3-4 days. My mother said that was what her periods were like and I just thought that was my lot in life. My dr said I most likely had endometriosis but the test required a needle incision through my stomach which terrified me. No thanks, I’ll just treat it as endo without the test.

    So for the past 20 or so years my periods have always been painful which society tells us is normal and just shut up and take some panadol!

    When I was 29 and having my first child, an ultrasound revealed I had fibroids. In fact my gynaecologist wondered how I fell pregnant in the first place with them. I went on to have 2 more children with no assistance, however the fibroids did increase in size. My mother doesn’t believe in drs so I have also wondered if she had fibroids as well, which may have increased her uterus size and caused such terrible cramping. My sister had three large fibroids – 1x size of a basketball, 1x size of a grapefruit and 1x size of a tennis ball. She thought she pregnant. She had to have them surgically removed. I’ve never had medical treatment for mine.

    I have minor-moderately heavy, painful periods, but I’m about to graduate as a Naturopath myself so I understand the complexities around this issue and I treat it accordingly, specifically with liver clearance herbs, anti-inflammatory herbs, exercise and lowering my stress levels, among some things. This has varying levels of success. I happily celebrated taking no NSAIDs for the first time 6 months ago during a period.

    I hope my story has helped in some way. Studying to become a Naturopath has really been the only way i could understand all of my health history. If only everyone could study their health at school! What a valuable skill that could be 🙂

    Reply
      • Thanks, Kathleen. So, no eggs in your diet either? What supplements did you use through your reproductive years and pregnancies?

        Reply
        • Hi Lara, I took the usual B complex and Iron on a regular basis, however not anything else. I did detoxing regularly (parasites/liver/kidneys) which greatly assisted my endocrine and digestive systems. I now understand how not to wait until I need a detox and use herbal medicines, nutrition and supplements to repair and maintain all the systems of the body.

          On the advice of a Naturopath teacher, I have for the last year begun to include eggs in my diet. I have also included daily curcuma longa tabs, zinc, selenium, activated B complex, a liquid herbal formula for my liver, and plenty of hydration. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head! Also Adhealth by BioMedica as it has a good range of adrenal herbals. I need to also include a good EPA/HPA supp; I was told a good vegan one – its name escapes me at the moment 🙂

          All these changes seem to have lessened the pain of my periods but ‘pain free’ periods remain elusive.

          Reply
  206. I’m 28 years old, vegan for 12months in Feb. Off of hbc for 6 cycles now. I’ve ovulated every cycle so far (31-34 day cycles) LP of 7days first cycle and then around 12 every other. Spotting on both sides of mensturarion but it is reducing. I’m giving a few more cycles to stabilise after hbc before I address this.

    I will agree that plant based nutrients come in smaller packages (not always) however I eat a lot more food on a vegan diet than I did as an omnivore. Quantity and variety. I’m still in research mode regarding optimal nutrition, which is far more awareness of what I am eating than when I was an omnivore. I obviously cannot comment on long term effects on cycles so far but I was shocked at how quickly my cycles returned.

    I’ll be charting in February also so I’ll see when my anniversary hits.
    It seems like a 50/50 distribution and I’d be interested to see WHAT a weekly meal diary looks from both sides.

    Reply
  207. Hello everybody,

    Interesting reading.
    I just wanna share a few names in this vegan world that get pregnant, carry babies, give home births, and raise children on a plant based diet.

    You can check Sarah Lemkus (New Zealand) at http://www.sarahlemkus.com & Ellen Fisher (American) at http://www.ellenfisher.com. These amazing ladies have come a long way (PCOS, anorexia, acne, digestion issues etc.) You can also find more information on their YouTube channels.

    You can thrive on a vegan diet, but it requires some knowledge and homework, and most likely listening to your body.

    Another great website to get more information is http://www.nutritionfacts.org by Dr. Michael Greger. Some of you most likely have seen him in documentaries etc.

    Good luck to all of you on your journey.

    P.S. Most meat eaters are B12 deficient these days.

    Reply
  208. I was vegetarian for 3 years and throughout that time I did not have a period. My period returned when I reintroduced animal products. Periods were painful and irregular, however these symptoms reduced significantly when I eliminated all dairy. No supplementation.

    Reply
  209. I have been vegan for 4 years and have been off the birth control pill for 2 years now. My periods are perfectly regular (ovulation around day 11-14 and menstruation on day 26 every time without fail. My periods are about 5 days and I don’t get cramping hardly ever. The thing that made my periods better (less cramps, lighter etc) was going off the pill. All my vegan friends and family have regular periods as well! Just wanted to share my experience :). Thanks!

    Reply
  210. Thank you for this important post and thank you for teaching us so much about femals cycles.

    Ahead of the vegan discussion. Before I became full vegetarian at 21 – I stopped eating red meat with 14, with 16 poultry and finally with 21 I gave up fish. During this time my period was always painful – too the extreme with cramps which felt more like childbirth. So extreme period problems can be experienced with or without being vegan.

    PERSONAL ANALYSIS
    I think the major destructive/disruptive part in my life concerning overall health and hormonal balance were ANTIBIOTICS (they destroyed my digestive system, according to my TCM practitioner as I got the very early in my life even the energitc development of my liver, with it caused extreme candida ending with holes in my stomach and subsequently caused the period problems).

    BEING A SOUL
    A part why I never cared about my cycle is that I experienced it first and foremost as nuicence, painful to the extreme. I never understood that the awakened cycle introduced my into the great soul cycle of womanhood – into the awakening of soul powers and intuition – into the great mystery to being able to create life and feeling the grace of nature flowing and ebbing through my body. It took me year to read wonderful authors like Lynn Andrews (Shaman views) and many others to realise that there is a wonderful and a mysterious cycle and that there are actually women alive which do not experience period pain! Our bodies -male or femal – are temples and a part of a wonderful mysterious creation and we are all sacred. The most basic understanding of life is not being taught in our ‘modern first world societies’ and we really wonder why we life in a luxurious first world and yet in a soul/spiritual ‘fiths world’ with all its extreme consequence in our relationships and society? Without a key to our own soul we cannot easily understand that we are a part of greater unity so eloquently expressed in every leaf of a tree, in every beam of sunlight glissening on pure water…

    I became vegan for 4 years and at first I experienced the first non-violent periods in my life and thought I found the holy grail (mainly because I stopped eating wheat and dairy – going nearly fully raw). The first 2 years I would say were heaven – the cleansing obviously took out chemical imbalances. But after year 4 I realised that I craved eggs – protein – my energy went downhill with extreme fatigue in the afternoon. Once I noticed deterioration in various levels of my immune responds I looked into supplementation and returned to add eggs and checked that I got a very well balanced nutional profile:

    Protein every day as rice protein and 2-3 x a week in form of pulses (lentils, daal, beans).
    D3/K2 supplment immediate effect in my training respond short breath stopped.
    Magnesium Glycinate / Sango – minerals are key for my recovery. up to 1000 mg per day.
    Vitamin C 1000 – 2000 mg.
    Iodine (the entire Dr. Brownstein Protocol) – major improvement of mood stabelisation, hormonal balance.
    EPA/DEHA Omega’s – especially the week before the period is essential.
    Selenium every 2-3 days
    Zinc 30 mg every 2-3 days (cleared afternoon fatigue within 1 week)
    Vitamin B Complex – approx. every 1-2 weeks

    My favorite Tonic Herbs
    Fo Ti (Kidney Support)
    Schizandra (Liver Cleanser/Balancer)
    Goji (Blood Builder – Iron)

    All of these ingrediences/supplements end up in my morning protein smoothie (containing 1 scoop of rice protein) with 1 handful of spinach, chocolate powder, 1 banana, 1 egg yolk, wheatgrass, sometimes avocado, sometimes a bit of cucumber depending on what I have in the house etc. always coconut oil all the above (only zinc and selenium, vitamin B I take separate). Neutral miso paste in the beginning of my cycle gives some probiotics and adds estrogen. This is my health balance happy smoothie – in the summer I often go for more green smoothis citrus based… all depending on my mood – and needs. Before my period I love raw juice mixutures of red beet with some pinapple, ginger, cucumber, carrot… they seem to calm my liver. I am very much tuning into my cycle and what I feel I need… cleansing, calming or uplifting.. dense nutrition which is warming like a protein smoothie with ginger and cinnamon in the winter, or something cooling like a raw juice more summer?

    All in all – I think – going vegan needs a lot of nutrional knowledge otherwise one can very easily get deficient in important nutrients (e.g protein if one does not consquently include pulses, lentis etc.).

    I feel at ease with a vegetarian diet and would never judge anybody by what they eat. If I would be born in the Arctis as an Inuit I would eat fish! This is not a religion but a personal decision. A decision to minimise ‘harm’ to living beings – yet I do trample on ants and life is transformation – if we like it or not – Death is a part of Life – for me not something to be feared but seen as a transformational process – a flower dies, a fruit is being created… but the soul insight is not too cause nonsensical death and unbearable pain in the way we treat ‘farm animals’ or our oceans. It is my decision to respect as much as possible but I do wear leather shoes as I still think more harm is done by all the plastic we produce. When I see how ‘natural’ people revere the animals which they eat and the way they honor life it inspires me to be in balance and only to take what I need in the most conscious and loving way.

    Reply
  211. Vegetarian for 8 years, vegan for 5 months. I got a period for the first time without having to induce it in October. I very rarely, like extremely rare, get a period without inducing it. I don’t take BCP, and was told by my reproductive endocrinologist that I have high testosterone, DHEA, and very elevated AMH (like 18?). I have lost a little weight, so wondering if that had something to do with getting my period? I kinda puttered out though and been eating more carbs recently. I feel better when I eat a lot of vegetables and exercise. On metformin xr 500mg once a day and take Ritual vitamins which are really good for vegans and high quality. Also have a brca mutation so I’ve really been trying to get my act together, however I really doubt I’m ovulating.

    Reply
    • An AMH of 18 is not that high. So, were you told you have insulin resistance and PCOS? Then your #1 strategy is to avoid concentrated fructose including date balls, smoothies, fruit juice etc. Please see my post Why I Ask Some Patients to Quit Sugar.

      And I would venture to say that a vegan diet is not going to help you to ovulate.

      Reply
      • I was never diagnosed with insulin resistance, but my obgyn prescribes me metformin. My primary checked my insulin levels when I was fasting one time and they were fine. I recently had remnants of a fatty liver pop up on a breast MRI recently, and my HgB A1c has always been within normal limits. The scattered fatty liver makes me think I have insulin resistance, plus my alkaline phophastase has been slightly elevated for awhile. This syndrome is so frustrating! Thanks for referring the article about fructose.

        Reply