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 orange, 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).
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 orange, 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.