Health & Wellness

Q&A: Does being vegetarian affect your periods? I've noticed that since I stopped eating most meats I still eat fish and eggs I've had heavier flow and much worse cramps.

Our diets in general can have a great effect on our overall well-being. It is assumed that a vegetarian diet including protein from fish is quite healthy, but sometimes can be related to some irregularity. One reason is that consuming a lot of soy-based protein (soy milk, edemame, and tofu) could possibly have some effect on hormone levels. Also, cutting out dairy and are not getting enough calcium (1200mg per day) could be the cause for increased cramps. Sometimes a change in lifestyle will have an effect on the timing of your period (late or early), but should not cause your period to be a lot heavier or more painful. Often, hormone changes within your own body are the cause for periods becoming heavier and more painful. Your period can vary on occasion, but if this change is more than a one-month event, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your healthcare provider to talk about your symptoms and determine what might be causing the changes in your period.

Diet has a big influence on our health. Odds are you’ll notice many changes in your body after adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. My niece went vegetarian a few years ago and she had a big drop in weight. After a while, she also noticed she was fatigued and listless. She realized her body was lacking some of what it needed, so she educated herself and learned how to supply her body with all the nutrients (including proteins, amino acids, etc.) it needed through a vegetarian diet. Being a vegetarian can be very good for you, but it requires education and mindful eating.

I’m not sure if your heavier flow and cramps are directly related or not. Researchers have studied a link between a vegetarian diet and menstrual irregularity, but I don’t even know if that was conclusive because weight can also be a factor in your menstrual cycle. Be sure to check Sandy’s answer for a medical perspective on this.


I haven’t eaten red meat in over 15 years, so here are a couple tips I followed when making the switch. 1) Eat a balanced diet – it’s common for people who cut out meat to replace it with breads and pastas. 2) Get the proper nutrients, paying special attention to vitamins like B12, D, riboflavin, magnesium, calcium, and iron, as these may now be lacking in your diet. That said, if the heavier flow and cramps become bothersome or affect your day-to-day activities, it may be a good time to pay a visit to your health provider. Hope this helps!! Oh, and be sure to check out what the other panelists have to say. I’m sure they’ll have some great tips.