Can Taking Vitamins Cause Irregular Menstrual Bleeding?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Tip

Taking vitamins will not affect menstruation; however, a vitamin D deficiency may cause abnormal bleeding.

Causes of Irregular Menstrual Bleeding

Irregular menstrual bleeding is a broad term that encompasses any alteration in the normal menstrual cycle in relation to frequency, regularity, duration and volume of flow. According to a May 2019 article in StatPearls, one-third of women will have abnormal bleeding at some point in their lives, and it most commonly occurs during the onset of menstruation and in the period before menopause.

  • Missed periods
  • More frequent or less frequent periods
  • Menstrual flow that is significantly heavier or lighter than normal
  • Periods that are longer or shorter than normal
  • Periods that are accompanied by pain, nausea, vomiting or cramping
  • Bleeding or spotting between periods, during menopause or after intercourse
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Lifestyle changes, including gaining or losing a significant amount of weight, dieting, exercise changes, travel, illness and stress.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Irregularity

After controlling for variables, including age, race, smoking, body mass index (BMI), exercise and education, the researchers found that a decrease in vitamin D blood levels of 10 ng/mL was associated with cycle irregularity. Vitamin D status was not associated with length of cycles. The researchers concluded that vitamin D may be involved in regulating ovulatory function and that further investigation was warranted.

Low vitamin D levels are not uncommon in the United States, and as much as 42 percent of the population may have a deficiency, according to Stephanie Wheeler, director of wellness at Mercy Medical Center.

Premenopausal women may have even higher rates of deficiency. If you think you may have low blood levels of a particular nutrient, it's important to visit your doctor who can perform blood tests to confirm the deficiency. In that case, you may be advised to start taking a vitamin D supplement.

When to See a Doctor

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It can be hard to judge whether what you are experiencing is normal, since every woman's period is different. Any time you miss your period for more than a week, it's a good idea to check in with your physician, especially if you are sexually active. Other signs that you may need medical attention include:

  • Experiencing a very heavy flow that requires changing your pad or tampon every hour for several hours in a row
  • Passing blood clots larger than a quarter
  • Having constant pain in abdomen or lower back
  • Feeling abnormally fatigued or short of breath
  • Noticing extra hair on your face, chin, chest or abdomen
  • Having unusual vaginal discharge
  • Experiencing abnormal bleeding or spotting between periods

To determine the cause of your abnormal bleeding, your doctor will ask you a series of questions about your menstrual history and likely perform a physical exam including a pap test. Your doctor may also order additional blood tests, vaginal cultures, pelvic ultrasound or an endometrial biopsy.

Once the cause of your abnormal bleeding has been confirmed, your doctor can prescribe the appropriate treatment, According to Cleveland Clinic, this might include prescribing hormones such as estrogen and progestin that can help control a heavy flow.

Fibroids causing mild symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, and low-dose birth control can help with heavy flow. There are also surgical options to remove fibroids or reduce their size and symptoms. A hysterectomy in which the uterus is removed may be required in severe cases.

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There is no cure for endometriosis, but over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce discomfort. Hormone treatment may also be used to prevent the overgrowth of uterine tissue and reduce blood loss. In severe cases, surgery to remove endometrial tissue or a hysterectomy may be required.

Read more: The 10 Most Annoying Women's Health Issues

Reduce Risk of Irregular Bleeding

Menstruation isn't totally out of your control. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of abnormal bleeding. If you're taking vitamin supplements to fill in the gaps in a less-than-healthy diet, you're not doing yourself any favors. While supplements can help repair a deficiency, they can't take the place of a healthy diet containing a variety of nutritious foods.

Reduce or eliminate low-nutrient, unhealthy junk foods, fast foods, fried foods, sweets and sugary beverages, and increase your intake of fresh fruits and veggies, lean meat, fish and poultry, low-fat dairy, whole grains and nuts and seeds. This kind of diet will also help you manage your weight without drastic weight loss or gain that can affect regularity, and it will help improve any conditions that are causing your irregular bleeding.

In addition:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Exercise regularly and moderately
  • Practice relaxation and stress-reduction techniques
  • Use birth control methods as directed by your doctor

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