This just in: Getting your period once a month means you have a toxic body and a toxic diet. That’s what a couple popular vegan bloggers think, at least.
In a controversial YouTube video called ” How I lost my period on a RAW VEGAN Diet ,” vlogger Freelee the Banana Girl explains she thinks “menstruation is toxicity leaving the body” and “people are having these heavy, heavy periods and painful periods because they have a toxic body or have a toxic, [high-fat] diet.” Freelee says switching to a high-carbohydrate raw vegan diet got rid of her regular period . Now, the vlogger goes without a period for nine months at a time—and when she does menstruate, she experiences “mega-light” bleeding. “If it’s so unhealthy for me to go through a period of not having my period, then why did I feel so amazing?” she asks in her video, which has been viewed nearly 400,000 times.
And Miliany Bonet, the 19-year-old behind the blog RawVeganLiving , echoed these claims. “A non-menstruating body indicates the body is clean,” Bonet told Broadly . “The industry has done a great job of brainwashing too many women into thinking that if they do not get their periods on a monthly basis, that something is wrong with their body and hormones.”
…I’m sorry, what?
First things first—periods are not toxic. And chronically missing a period can be cause for concern.
Did you get your period this month? Me too. That doesn’t make us “toxic”—that makes us normal human women. And it’s not “toxicity” leaving your body—it’s blood, thickened endometrial cells, and sometimes clots. “Aiming for no periods makes no sense,” Jacques Moritz, M.D., ob/gyn at Weill Cornell Medicine, tells SELF. For many women, having no period is an actual medical problem—Moritz says many of his patients come to him because they’re not getting their periods on a regular basis and they’re worried that’s a sign of dysfunction.
Remember, there are plenty of reasons you can miss your period —like stress, an extreme shift in your fitness routine, menopause, or pregnancy. You might also be using a form of birth control that alters your menstrual cycle. Some of these reasons (like stress) might concern you, while others (like birth control), shouldn’t. But you can always talk to your gynecologist if you’re worried about something.
Though Moritz hasn’t personally treated these bloggers, he suspects their plant-based diet has severely decreased their level of body fat—which, in turn, lowered the amount of estrogen in their bodies. When your estrogen level gets low enough, your body stops ovulating—and you stop experiencing menstruation, as a result. “Basically, your body is protecting itself from getting pregnant when you’re in this kind of ‘starvation’ state,” Moritz explains.
Eating in a way that makes your period stop—or grow excessively lighter—likely means you’re not getting enough nutrients or overexerting yourself without fueling properly. Not only is this unhealthy when it’s happening, but it can also have longterm consequences—like thyroid dysfunction, infertility, and osteoporosis. A “non-menstruating body” isn’t a “clean body”—many times, it’s a body in severe stress. “If that’s what we’re aiming for, our world has become a sad place,” Moritz says.
And there’s no actual evidence that adopting a vegan diet will change your period.
There’s not a lot of research looking into high-fat diets, veganism, and menstruation, Christine Greves , M.D., an ob/gyn at Comprehensive Women’s Healthcare, tells SELF. So not only is it incorrect to say that a high-fat diet will cause heavy periods and cramping , it’s controversial to make any definitive statement about changing your diet to improve your period in the first place. (Not to mention, the data that does exist suggest that menstrual irregularity is more common among vegetarians than it is among non-vegetarians.)
If you’re concerned about your menstrual cycle, talk to your doctor.
A menstrual pattern typically consists of about 3-7 days of light to heavy bleeding once a month, according to Greves. But of course, that varies from person to person. You’re the expert on your own period—so if longer, heavier periods (or shorter, lighter ones) are your norm, that’s probably OK. Go to your gynecologist with any questions you have—instead of, you know, trying to train your body to stop having a period by severely altering your diet.
If your period is heinous enough that you’re tempted to overhaul your diet to get rid of it, you should consider talking to a gynecologist. Look, some people do have extremely heavy periods with severe cramping . That can interrupt their quality of life and be a sign of a very real problem, like polycystic ovary syndrome or endometriosis. No one should have to suffer in silence or think that kind of pain is normal or acceptable—and they certainly shouldn’t be encouraged to eat so little they “lose” their period entirely. If this is something you’re experiencing, a doctor can help you identify and address the source of your discomfort—and to do so safely and effectively. Please talk to your doctor, and don’t try this “losing your period” thing at home.
- Marathoner Tina Muir Stopped Running to Get Her Period Back
- What Bad Period Cramps Can Tell You About Your Fertility
- 7 Reasons Why Your Period Is So Damn Heavy—And When To Worry About It
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