Friday, January 15, 2021

How Obesity Affects Monthly Periods


It is not uncommon for obese women to suffer from irregular menstrual cycles.  This can be caused by a variety of reasons related to obesity including diet, exercise and hormone imbalance.

woman eating ice cream

Due to Hormonal Imbalance

In women who are overweight the fat cells produce excessive estrogen which causes the body to think that she is pregnant.  The ovaries are under the misconception that they do not need to ovulate and menstruation will stop.  Without ovulation, there is no period.  On the flipside, too much estrogen can causes an overgrowth of cells also affecting the monthly period as does too little progesterone.  The overproduction of fat cells can also lead to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) due to insulin resistance.  Women with PCOS have irregular periods because they usually do not ovulate.

Being overweight often affects stress levels. Stress causes your adrenal glands to produce extra cortisol, which not only increases your belly fat but can also throw your hormones further out of balance.

Diet and Nutrition

Malnourishment can cause difficulty with monthly periods. Obesity can be caused by and cause malnourishment.  Even though there is weight gained this only indicates an excessive intake of calories not nutrition.  Overweight women can be getting a lot of calories but not essential vitamins and minerals the body needs for good nourishment.

Another way they can become malnourished is by trying to lose the weight.  They may attempt crash diets depriving themselves of nutrients or even suffer from eating disorders such as binge eating and severe dieting or purging such as with bulimia.


Many women who are overweight are perfectly happy to be this way.  Others are not and they attempt to lose weight with excessive exercising and dieting.  Those who exercise too much in attempts to reduce their weight or to turn fat to muscle can also affect their monthly periods while doing so.  Over exercising can reduce estrogen levels which can lead to an interruption of the menstruation cycle.

If your weight is affecting your monthly period the best solution is to talk to your doctor and begin a sensible weight loss and exercise regimen.  Reducing calories but still getting appropriate nutrition combined with a sensible exercise routine can lead to weight loss.  Studies indicate that even losing as little as 10 pounds can help restore or regulate your menstrual cycle to normal.

Gloria Brown
Women's health and wellness retreat leader providing vacations and trips for women to get in shape -- and stay that way! On you can find my articles about weight loss, health and women's issues. Please feel free to contact me on

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