Every woman knows their menstrual pattern over time, and can easily recognize changes in it. The month they observe any changes like preponement or a delay in the date, they start becoming anxious and want to consult their relatives or friends or even doctors, to identify the possible causes of the changes. 

Menstruation, commonly known as periods, is the normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman's monthly cycle. It is the shedding of the lining of the uterus (womb) in the form of blood, through your vagina (an elastic, muscular canal with a soft, flexible lining, which is a part of the female reproductive tract). 

Your menstruation is largely influenced by the environment, the weather, stress, and your food habits. In this article, we will particularly look at certain foods that can cause a delay in your periods. 

The Relationship Between Your Dietary Habits and Your Periods

Understand that, an average menstrual cycle is anywhere between 28 and 34 days. Your menstruation is divided into two phases: the Follicular Phase and the Luteal Phase. 

  • The follicular phase starts from the day of your period onset and lasts till the 15th day. 
  • The luteal phase is the second half of your menstrual cycle, from day 16 to day 28, which ends with the first day of your period. 
  • Having a prolonged follicular phase (starts on day 1 of your period) can result in a delay in your period.

Studies suggest that a change in your dietary habits can have an impact on your menstrual cycle. Any change in your food habits can result in an increase or decrease in the total caloric intake, carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake, which can alter your date of onset of monthly periods. 

Both eating too much and too little can result in an irregular or a delayed period. Having said this, remember that foods react differently to every individual. Certain foods can delay someone’s period but it doesn’t necessarily mean the same will happen to you. 

A list of foods that are commonly known to delay your periods are:

1. Spicy foods like chillies, and a lot of masala (mixture of spices), during each meal can stimulate your sympathetic system, leading to changes in the uterine blood flow which can push your periods further. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for preparing the body for action. The stimulation of this system causes constriction of most blood vessels, including those in your skin, the digestive tract, reproductive system, and kidneys.

There is no scientific evidence to prove this yet. However, it is best to avoid excess spicy foods for maintaining your overall health. 

2. Foods rich in carotene like papayas, carrots can delay your period. The carotene (a naturally occurring vitamin with no oxygen atoms, obtained from certain foods) in these fruits stimulate and trigger the estrogen level of hormones in your body, which has an effect on your uterine blood flow. They all help in postponing your periods by increasing the estrogen content in the blood.

Estrogen is one of the primary female sex hormones produced by your ovaries (the main organ of your reproductive system. It regulates your menstrual flow and stimulates the growth of the egg follicles (sac-like structures filled with fluid in which an egg develops). High levels of estrogen can delay your period and can also result in increased cramps/pain, bloating (excessive water retention), fatigue and nausea during your period. 

3. Lemon or lime juice can control your menstruation. It is high in acidic content and can play a role in delaying your period. Having lime juice just before your period can push it further and results in a lighter flow. It is known to relieve discomfort during your periods. 

4. Foods rich in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are compounds that naturally occur in a wide range of plants. Foods rich in phytoestrogens are veggies, legumes, and some grains. 

Intake of excessive phytoestrogens can damage your hormonal imbalance. Remember that a hormonal imbalance can affect your menstrual cycle. Eating foods high in phytoestrogens can cause this imbalance and delay your periods. There are various herbs like raspberry leaves, lentils when boiled in water and consumed, can postpone your periods by 2-3 days as they are rich in phytoestrogens.

5. Gelatin can successfully delay your periods. It is known to slow down the entire process of your menstruation, hence suspending your periods for a few hours to even a week. Take a packet of gelatin and mix it well with water. Consuming this mixture twice a day, before your period date can delay it further. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.