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Could being vegan be messing with my hormones?

If you are vegan (or vegetarian the non variety type eater) your choice in diet may be standing between you and your more fertile self. If you are reading this and you are a non meat or animal product eater, and you don’t have a menstrual cycle, you might like to consider why. That said, if you are a meat eater and you too have an absent menstrual cycle, you equally need to ask yourself the same question.

“What exactly is my body telling me here?”

So how do you really know what your body needs? That’s the million dollar question (or at least maybe I should start being paid a million dollars to tell people! ha – carry on Nat!). You need to decode what your body is telling you. Sounds cryptic? It sure as heck isn’t. It’s about peeling right back to basics and asking yourself a few easy questions. When it comes to fertility and reproductive health, those questions are extremely simple. Here’s a few you might like to try on. I’ve put some answers in italics, for example:

1. Do I have a regular menstrual cycle? If no, how long has it been like this? And what happened at the time it started going a little crazy (quite often the pill is inserted as the answer here)?
No period for 4 years after I changed my diet. I lost weight too.

2. Do I feel well 90% of the time. Where don’t I feel well (ie poor immunity, poor sleep, digestive issues).
I have loose bowels. I also don’t sleep.

3. Do I move my bowels every single day?
At least 3 times per day

4. Is my period terrible? (PMS, pain, headache, heavy flow etc).
n/a

Those 4 simple questions can create a great picture – enough for you to maybe start to question your current ways (or maybe hi five yourself if they are good!)

Miss italics, for example here changed her diet. For arguments sake, lets just say she stopped eating meat. But as you can see, this doesn’t suit her constitution. She has since experienced loose bowels, poor sleep and she’s most likely really tired too. I bet she is also cold and if/when she has the odd period, it is really painful. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the energy of meat and protein is warming or of a yang nature. When we take this out of the diet and don’t replace it, we can observe a host of issues, like we’ve outlined. The warming nature of meat is key for such women. From a TCM perspective, progesterone is also considered yang. So most likely, there is a progesterone deficiency in such women.

See the most important thing to realise is no ‘diet’ (for lack of a better word), exercise regime or lifestyle is suitable for every person. We have to consider genetics, environment, constitution, lifestyle – so many factors make you, you! But where we need to see warning signs is in the messages your body is sharing.

So to get back to the original question – will being vegan mess with my hormones. Sometimes. But not for everybody. You see, for those who have hormone imbalance already underlying and aren’t menstruating, yes absolutely. The amino acids found in meat are key to balance such women’s hormones. BUT equally, a woman who has excruciating period paid, terribly irregular menstrual cycles and hideous PMS might very well benefit from giving up the meat. For her, it is causing inflammation and pain. It isn’t suitable for her situation and she will feel much better without meat and dairy.

May I encourage you to take the necessary steps into understanding your fertility a little better – to work out what actually works for you. Of course it is my life mission to help women (especially young women) unlock the ‘mysteries’ of their fertility. Fixing before it is way broken is certainly my preference!

Open up some discussion in the comments window below – I’m sure you have questions and they may be exactly the same as others, so use the space to find out.

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27 Responses to “Could being vegan be messing with my hormones?”

  1. Ashley

    I cut back on dairy for about 6 months after stopping the birth control pill, then meat and dairy (except cheese, butter) shortly after. I have been this way for 7 months. My periods have been on and off again for the past year. I have had 4 or 5, maybe 6 periods. A doctor diagnosed me with pcos.

    I have no idea, what to do now.

    Reply
    • mnfadmin

      Dairy as a general rule isn’t great for PCOS, nor is soy. You may benefit from something more pale – but it is difficult without seeing you to know exactly.

      Reply
  2. Sarah

    I was diagnosed with PCOS 2 years ago and since going vegan have lost 20kgs, cleared up all of my acne and there are no cysts left on my ovaries (I haven’t had any surgery or pills) It makes me upset to see that you are promoting the consumption of meat and animal products. Diet AND lifestyle both contribute to our hormone levels.

    Reply
    • Nat Kringoudis

      Sarah! That is fabulous! Did you read the post? This is my point. Being vegan for some is the solution and for others not. I clearly indicate this. My true point is nothing is a one size fits all. Take another read – I think you’ll like what I have to say x

      Reply
      • Kamile

        Hi! I feel so relieved that I’m not alone in this boat… I’ve been a vegetarian my entire life, but when I started consuming less dairy, my period stopped. The gynecologist said I should eat meat, I should consume more fat, that I should gain weight, or else I won’t get my period back. She also prescribed some contraceptives, which helped me to get my period, but I must do something to get it back naturally. I really want to become vegan, but I want to be a healthy girl aswell. I’m currently 17. It would mean so much for me if I figured out what to do, so I’m asking for advice.

  3. Hiba

    Great post! There is indeed no one size fits all diet! I managed to lower my FSH level back within the normal range by eating healthier – I have been vegetarian for over 20 years and cutting down on dairy, sugar and gluten while eating more eggs and trying to eat a little meat and fish have really helped. I have also not felt as cold this winter, As you write, the most important is to get curious and explore what works best for you!

    Reply
  4. Louise

    I was vegan for three months when I was seventeen. I did it for ethical and health reasons and also entered into a group of friends that were mostly vegan conscious. I was insatiably hungry all the time, even when I was full, the desire to eat more food was always there. I had to do a number 2 after every time I ate, and alot of them were quite loose. I was anxious, cold and tired all the time, grossly pale even though I was exercising and not drinking and eating healthily. I actually put ON weight even though I was consuming less calories and exersising more. I believed this had something to do with the effect of meat on metabolism. And I swear the day after I had a delicious rare-cooked grass-fed steak, I noticed less “flabbiness” around my stomach (where I mostly accumulate excess energy). All in all, I would never do it again for that period of time. Maybe a week long cleanse or something but my body NEEDS meat!

    Reply
  5. Bragan Walsh

    Hello, Natalie! This is very hard for me, but I know this post was brought to me for a reason. I have been vegan for about a year but I have not had my period in a very long time. I am very confused because I stopped getting my period even when I was still eating meat and dairy. It was processed meat and dairy, so I thought that might be the cause, but I really don’t know. I am about to turn 17 and I stopped getting it at 14. Thank you for the post Natalie, I am scared to post this, but I know it is the right thing to do.

    Reply
    • mnfadmin

      Thanks Bragan for sharing! It can be very confusing indeed. Whole foods are best – ethical grass fed, grass finished meat is great – again bone broth is a great place for you to start. I encourage you as a 17 year old to get onto sorting this out now rather than later – the sooner you fix such things, the easier it is. Well done to you for your courage. Nat x

      Reply
      • Bragan Walsh

        Thank you for replying, Nat. I first started off just wanting to eat more pure foods and then I came across veganism, which I am very passionate about. It’s hard though because my family is agaisnt living naturally and eating whole organic food becuase they don’t understand the importance of it and it is more expensive. I am embarrassed to admit this, but they have been buying my groceries (I know it’s horrible; I really need a job). I live near the water so would it be easiest to eat seafood, like fish?

  6. Claudia

    What an interesting post! I’ve never really thought about what I had stopped eating when my periods stopped. For a long time I wouldn’t admit to myself that it stopped most likely because I was hardly eating anything. Possibly it was not eating enough fat as well.

    I’ve been diagnosed with PCOS and was on the pill for a few years but stopped taking it just over a year ago. I’m pleased to report that I’ve had two periods in the last 4 months. I’ve changed my diet, exercise habits and lifestyle. I’m still trying to figure out what foods work for me but I feel like I’m getting to a better place. I don’t get any hunger pangs around snack times and I don’t feel the need for sweets after lunch, I feel balanced and in control. Most of the time (dark chocolate still makes an almost daily appearance in my diet). I’m not ‘there’ yet because I have a short luteal phase, acne, and some incredibly stubborn excess fat that refuses to budge. But, I’m trying to be kind to myself and my body, and celebrate what I have achieved (even if it seems so small).

    A side note, around the time my periods stopped I started getting bloated and constipated. I’ve had these issues about as long as I’ve had menstural issues. Recently my bowels seem to have swung in the other direction. I’m not entirely sure why (I suspect it’s in part because I’ve started meditating daily) but I’m taking it as a sign that my body is now slowly responding to all the changes I’ve made. Now to get things to normalise a bit…but I’m a bit too happy not having to worry about things not coming out!

    Reply
  7. Marissa

    Hey, Natalie! I was curious which amino acids in meat were beneficial in balancing women’s hormones. I am trying to correct a hormonal balance and doctors and alternative practitioners have told me that I need to eat meat. When I ask why they can’t give me an answer. I would love it if you could explain it to me!

    I’m trying to educate myself about hormones to further my understanding of what my body is going through. I am (happily!) a vegan and believe that there is always an ethical option for me to explore if I look outside the box. My whole food, vegan approach has healed me more than any other change I’ve made since the onset of this issue.

    Also, I was under the impression that nonessential amino acids are called as such because they are manufactured in the body, and I know that all essential aminos can be found in plant foods. I don’t know if this factors into your answer, but I wanted to mention it. Thank you!

    Reply
  8. V

    I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2011, at age 27. At that time, I ate very little meat and grains, and mostly organic fish, tofu, fruit and vegetables. I also had regular acupuncture and massages, which I found helped with overall wellbeing. Due to my erratic ovulation, I was put on fertility drugs, and conceived/birthed beautiful twin boys. Devastatingly, they passed away due to complications when they were three weeks old.

    Now, eighteen months later, I am trying to conceive again; this time, through IVF, which was deemed safer as I am predisposed to having multiples, and I just don’t carry them well. My acupuncturist has advised to start eating organic red meat, to balance and tone my blood, but I’m confused, as I thought meat was inflammatory on the body? Also, should I be staying away from tofu products (I only eat organic tofu) during this time? I’ve heard so many mixed messages about soy, and what is/isn’t beneficial for women’s fertility.

    I just want to regain some physical health so I can conceive, and have another baby.

    Reply
    • mnfadmin

      Hi V. Wow – you are amazing and what an inspiration. The amino acids in organic grass fed meat are key to balancing hormones.

      Tofu contains phytoestrogens that mimic hormones in your body and can mess with your fertility. I would avoid tofu and soy products for this reason.

      I hope this helps.

      Reply
  9. Rachel

    I have been a vegetarian for a year and a half now, and stopped menstruating about 9 months ago. I also get very cold and lost quite a lot of weight, though I am otherwise healthy. Is there something I can be doing to get back to a normal cycle again?

    Reply
    • Kat

      perhaps my posts below can help you. I know I’m giving a lot of advice here, but I was without a period for 3 years and I just really feel for you both. I hope something I wrote can be of help. Good luck!

      Reply
  10. Melissa Brooke

    Hi,

    I am 21 years old. I have been Vegetarian since i was 14 and when i was 19 i decided to go Vegan. I took my self of the pill around June 2013, and since have had no periods.

    I went to the Drs and she simply said i am underweight.

    I am 52 kgs and 165cm tall, which i have always been and before being vegan and the pill i never missed a period.

    Just looking for some answers?

    As i really want to get my period back!

    Reply
    • Kat

      See my post below. If you don’t want to eat meat, then try taking borage oil capsules (4 per day until you get your period is what i did) and then you can go to two. It also helps to take vitamin e with the borage to help it absorb. I was told about this in a Dutch vitamin shop, and the man working there was very direct (very Dutch!) and simply said “this works. They have GLAs, and they will help you”. You might expect your period to come back in 2-3 months. For me, it took 2 months, and when I got it back it was like Christmas morning. If you are open to it, grass fed beef is very healthy, and would likely do you well. I’m 164 cm and was your weight for a long time, and I realized that I needed to be about 4 kilos heavier in order to keep my periods. Being thin is in right now, but it’s not necessarily right for every body type. I have more of a shapely figure now, and it took getting used to, but people have told me that it suits me much better. So forget what the fashion mags are showing, and try one thing at a time so that you know what works and what doesn’t.

      Reply
    • R

      I have been wrestling with a thought that came to me one day. Maybe you girls could tell me what you think. Well, is the following statement true: “My menstruation stopped when I stopped masturbating”.

      Reply
  11. Kat

    I went vegetarian when I was 18 years old, and I lost a bunch of weight, periods stopped. Then, I learned more about how to eat that way, and gained most of the weight back, but still no periods! Prior to that, I had been completely normal and healthy. For the next few years, I flip flopped being vegan and vegetarian and sometimes eating a little fish. I had read so much on the internet and in books about how good this diet is for the health of people and the planet, and especially the animals. I never though it was linked to my lack of periods, I just didn’t think about it because everything I read was so positive. I went to the doctor for the lack of periods, and they took blood samples that revealed I was very low estrogen- like a menopausal woman! They prescribed me BCPs, and they gave me my period, but they also made me crazy, so I stopped. So, I went to a vitamin store where they told me to take borage oil for my lack of periods. Miraculously, they came back. But my skin got worse and worse, I had acne everywhere and it was affecting my confidence. Once I was living somewhere where the borage was not available, and after one month not taking, I lost my periods and had to mail order them in. Then, one day, after 7 years of not eating meat, I tried a serving of beef. I was in the mountains of Portugal, and these beautiful cows with big horns were everywhere. Even though I never thought I would eat meat again as long as I lived, I decided to throw away the rules I had made for myself and just see what happened. The next day, I was so energetic. I had forgotten what it was like to have that kind of energy. Now, after about 7 months of eating meat once or twice a week, my skin has improved, my body shape is healthier, and I’m considering going off my borage oil supplements to see if my body can menstruate on its own. It’s still weird for me eating meat, but my body just knows it’s right.

    Reply
  12. Amy Shaw

    After becoming vegan and experiencing the loss of my period woes, I’m rejoicing in the damn streets!! I honestly believe everyone needs to relax and just listen to their body – do you FEEL healthier, or do you FEEL as if something is imbalanced? If you feel something is off, try some B-12, a probiotic, and/or perhaps some vitamin C. If you feel find though, don’t worry about your health simply because you dont have a period anymore……. because it feels wonderful doesn’t it? Why would something that feels as great as liberation from a menstrual cycle be bad?

    Reply
    • mnfadmin

      That’s great Amy – I’d encourage you to understand that not having a period is just the endpoint of a symphony orchestra in hormones that are essential for all round wellness. Having your period is the sign that your body is healthy. But like you said, if you are happy with how you feel, then this is wonderful for you. For most women on my blog, they are seeking their menstrual cycles, balancing hormones and preparing for pregnancy. x

      Reply
  13. Carrie

    Going vegan has caused my breasts to become very painfully cystic. I have always struggled with pcos, thyroid, and hair abd cystic acne in the neck. I take meds for all. Going vegan is causing more hormonal issues. I don’t know what to do now since I quit for moral reasons.

    Reply
    • Nat Kringoudis

      I understand this does make it very hard. Some people just aren’t designed to be vegan unfortunately – we are all different. It doesn’t however mean you need to feast on copious amounts of meat – you can still eat predominantly plant based diet. I guess get curious about what your body is asking for and why. It’s a tricky one I understand!

      Reply
  14. My beef with Nat Kringoudis - Modern Day Missus

    […] I decided to google Nat Kringoudis vegan, and up popped an article that said Could a vegan diet be messing with my hormones. […]

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  15. Victoria

    Hi Nat! Thanks for the post. I haven’t had my period since I stopped taking the pill about 2 and a half years ago. Before taking the pill my menstruation was very regular. While I was on the pill I switched to a completely vegan diet. After 2 years of veganism and almost 2 years without my period I decided to reintroduce meat in hopes to get my hormones back on track. I just went for another Gyno check up, and despite my best effort my estrogen levels are still very very low and my gyno wants me to get on the pill to boost them (which I absolutely refuse). Do you any recommendations to naturally boost my estrogen levels?

    Reply