The menstrual changes are quite a powerful sign of stored estrogen being released by fat cells being burned for fuel (ketosis). And as the comments above show - the impacts can be widely variant depending on prior female health. Also, the extent of prior or current hormonal medications which can make a much more difficult time of it by creating the condition of excess estrogen officially called “Estrogen Dominance.” There are remedies - estrogen-clearing fiber, intense slow burn weightlifting to activate the lymphatic & circulatory system and help detox, hormone balancing herbs, or bio-identical hormones - and many highly qualified keto-friendly herbalists & nutritionists that can be found via various resource lists.
Considering that every human that lives in the industrial world has over 100 industrial chemicals in our body tissues, this fat burning estrogenic detox for women also likely means that a parallel detox of chemicals as well as heavy metals stored in fat is also going on… things like dioxin, and cadmium - being moved into the urine and menstrual blood (and it may be preferable for breastfeeding women to wait till weaning before starting keto-official). To my knowledge, there is very little published about the many nuances of female-related ketogenic hormone balancing, detox, and healing - all of which of course has huge impacts on natural menstruation as well as the breakthrough bleeding of those on hormonal b.c.
We need studies on female health & healing in the ketogenic way of eating. There are plenty of studies on athletes, and on co-ed groups without factoring in the female factors, but not much on all the fascinating hormone rebalancing that ketogenesis offers women.
As a 51 year old woman who only spent 3 months on the pill back when I was 21 and quit because of the creepy side effects I had - I’ve been into whole foods-as-medicine and herbs & spices my entire adult life. I entered midlife pretty healthy and vital - and experienced my first midlife missed period at age 49 (was shocked, but then realized it was The Change) - a big event, for those of you who are younger. So, my already easygoing (dare I say pleasant?) cycle became quarterly. However, my 50th year involved gaining 40 pounds related to high stress events/injury along with a normal metabolic slowdown.
THEN this last May I began keto, and voila! My cycle returned to monthly - around every 30-31 days, regular like clockwork, lasting 4 days, and easygoing again with minimal discomforts and what I would describe as an even better level of functionality. Quite amazing!
The estrogen release is a boon to The Change in a non-medicated woman I think, as pathology like hot flashes and metabolic chaos are eliminated, if they show up (many unmedicated & well-nourished women are asymptomatic through the climacteric, though this fact is downplayed by big pharma). For women who’ve already been long keto-adapted before midlife, I wonder what it’s like? Do they have a symptom-free climacteric due to no hormonal imbalance? Very likely.
What my return to cycles every month says to me:
A: estrogen is definitely being released by the body and the body is certainly detoxing
B: fertility might be enhanced (which might explain the biblical Sarah’s late life pregnancy, as well as some documented cases of later life natural conceptions). The anovulatory cycles of later life may certainly be irrelevant when one’s glandular system is so activated. There is an argument to say that of the limited number of eggs we’re born with (around 300K) and the 300-400 that ripen and release during our fertile lives, there are some left! So, just keep that in mind and possibly take precautions to prevent conception if you are het and have a partner.
C: this is living proof of the more rejuvenative effects of keto
D: it’s very biological, and I’m a female mammal
I’m curious to know how long these regular cycles will last - I’m thinking until the estrogen release is done. I have about 20 more pounds more of fat to burn, on top of the body’s normal estrogen levels. Could be many more moons of this regular, easy cycling and I welcome this blatant sign of natural law and transformation.
I’m also empathic with the fact that women on hormonal b.c. or other medications may be experiencing quite different uterine effects - more like an overload, with the pathological symptoms of what is officially called Estrogen Dominance which affects the entire cycle. According to Dr. Christiane Northrup MD, estrogen-clearing fiber, strength training (I recommend Slow Burn free weights 30 minutes per week) and liver detox supporting herbs are very very helpful. It’s also a good time to look at reviewing medications and hormonal b.c. in general.
This article in Paleo Woman and the many comments does a great job on the topic of addressing excess hormones: “Taking liver and other organ meats and high quality animal protein may be your best companions in this journey.” (You can purchase grassfed liver capsules - they’re not too nasty and give me very noticeable energy - I like Zen Principles brand). Most keto women have already cut out the offending soy, flax, legumes - but ketosis itself may add a challenging estrogen load that can be very overwhelming and unpleasant for women who are on hormones or have been hormonally suppressed for a chunk of their lives. Ms. Shawn Mynar, a wellness coach, keto nutritional counselor, and personal trainer has a great podcast for women on the subject of Estrogen Dominance, Adrenal Fatigue, and PCOS - along with other female resources.
Don’t despair though, the crises of estrogen overload is an opportunity to take your body back on even more levels than you expected.