Ramadan and Menstruation
The month of Ramadan is nearly here. Ramadan is a time of special significance for Muslims all around the world. The focus is often on food, when you can eat, when you stop eating, what to break the fast with and the most sustaining foods to eat in the morning to sustain you for the day.
But what happens to a fasting woman’s menstrual cycle during Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This calendar is based on moon sighting so Ramadan happens at a different time each year. Depending on the time of year, Muslims fast anything between 12 and 18 or more hours each day for around 29 days after the sighting of the crescent moon.
Simply, no food or drink is taken from sunrise to sunset. It’s not only about not eating and drinking though, Ramadan also presents an excellent opportunity to pare back to basics. To cleanse your diet, your house, and your thoughts while increasing spiritual practice.
Does this impact on a woman’s menstrual cycle? Very likely. Here’s how.
While menstruating, women abstain from the fast. Let’s forget about those (patriarchal) ideas that we don’t fast due to impurity. To stop fasting is a mercy from Allah because menstruating can lead to fatigue and He does not want to place an unfair burden on women.
Your menstrual cycle is attuned to your daily activities; whatever they are they have an effect on your cycle. Any change in your normal routine can cause a change in your normal pattern.
Studies have shown that abnormal eating patterns can affect menstrual patterns.
A study carried out by Hamadan University, published in the Iran Journal of Reproductive medicine in 2013, stated that women who fasted for more than 15 days during Ramadan reported some menstrual abnormalities, including irregular or missed periods, abnormal, heavy for prolonged bleeding. These effects were seen for the next 3 months.
A study published in the Middle East Fertility Society Journal in the year 2017 noticed that there were changes in the teenager’s menstrual cycle, especially in blood volume.
A study carried out in 2015, showed that Ramadan fasting can positively affect the stress hormones in women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Stress neurohormones decreased in women during Ramadan fasting.
Researchers think that disruption to the circadian clock (owing to changed eating and sleep patterns) could affect menstruation. Other research points towards menstruation affecting the circadian rhythm. The ovaries appear to have their own circadian clock and intermittent fasting or Ramadan fasting may aid more robust circadian rhythms.
Because there are so few studies, more are required to understand the correlation between women fasting in Ramadan and changes in menstruation.