Vegan Nutrition with Dina Aronson, M.S. R.D.

Dina AronsonDina Aronson, MS, RD is a vegan dietitian whose specialties include chronic disease prevention, vegetarian/vegan nutrition, and lifestyle management. She is the founder and director of, a nutrition consulting company. Active in many vegetarian nutrition organizations, Dina was the recipient of the American Dietetic Association's Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award in 2002.

No Periods: I'm 16, and have been vegetarian for about 2 years, and for the past few months, I have not been getting my period at all. Months before, I was having very light periods, and no pain, and for the past few months, I just haven't been getting it at all, and I'm pretty scared, to tell you the truth. I really just need to know if being vegetarian has anything to do with this.

Itıs difficult to determine exactly what has caused your amenorrhea (lack of a menstrual cycle), especially since you report that you were having light periods before you went vegetarian. It is possible that your dietary change played a role, and possible that it did not.

Regardless, it is time to see a healthcare provider. If you trust your usual physician, start with him or her. You will probably be referred to an OB/GYN and/or an endocrinologist (who specializes in hormones). They will most likely ask you a series of questions, perform a physical exam, and take a blood sample.

The number one cause of amenorrhea in young women is low body weight, specifically, a low percentage of body fat. If you weigh less than average for your height, putting on a few pounds might jump-start your period (if this is a case, do see a dietitian to gain weight in a healthy way). If you lost weight after you went vegetarian, this might be the reason.

Not eating meat, per se, is not a direct reason for a stopped period, but eating a diet lower in calories and fat overall might be a culprit. That said, even though a vegetarian diet can be extremely healthy, it is possible to have an unhealthy vegetarian diet. If you arenıt following a healthy diet and not getting proper balance of nutrients, it can mess with your cycle. Do visit with a dietitian to review your intake to see if you might need some improvement in your diet.

Excessive exercise, stress, and illness are also common causes of missed periods.

Other possible causes include hormonal abnormalities (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or other issues), genetic abnormalities, or rare but serious diseases.

Again, it is important to get tested to see what the underlying cause of your amenorrhea is, so you can treat the problem and be healthy. Good luck.

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