Can Taking Prenatal Vitamins Change Your Menstrual Cycle? How Does It Effect Me?

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Prenatal vitamins can be helpful in many ways for you and your planned child. These are filled with various vitamins and minerals used to fill up nutritional gaps in your body to result in a healthy pregnancy and child. There’s no scientific evidence on prenatal vitamins changing your menstrual cycle. Irregular periods are caused due to fluctuating hormone levels that can be temporary or caused due to an underlying health issue. But you should always consult your doctor before starting this supplement because an excess of vitamins can cause various side effects to appear. 

Like how your doctor might tell you to take your essential vitamins during the pregnancy, another popular thing is to take prenatal vitamins.

Prenatal vitamins are becoming increasingly popular among parents who want to plan their child as it has numerous benefits like reducing pregnancy complications.

Most parents who want a planned pregnancy opt for taking these supplements. So, women might start taking them 2-3 months before trying for the baby.

But there’re a couple of doubts attached with these supplements, too, one of which is if they tend to affect a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Role of prenatal vitamins

A pregnant woman is about to take her prenatal vitamins

The importance of taking prenatal vitamins is more beneficial than parents realize.

For planned pregnancies, it’s advisable to begin these supplements as they contain an extra amount of folic acid, iron, and calcium that’s much needed during the pregnancy. 

The phrase “eating for two” is often used during the pregnancy, and most mothers also enjoy an extra plate of their favorite dish by using it often.

It’s because your baby gets all their nutrition from your body which is directly affected by what you consume.

They help form your baby’s vital organs and body system, which begins early on. Therefore you need the following nutrients:

  • Folic acid can prevent a baby from neural tube defects that form the brain and spinal cord. It’s developed in the first 4 weeks of conceiving. 
  • Iron supplies the fetus with blood, and oxygen helps build the placenta and gives the mother extra blood volume needed for the pregnancy to prevent anemia.
  • Calcium is obviously needed to help build up bone strength, and the fetus needs this in plenty of amounts. If there’s a deficiency, they will absorb it from your body, affecting your bones. 

Prenatal vitamins and irregular menstrual cycle

They’re called prenatal vitamins as they help the mother gain the lost nutrients and be ready for the journey of motherhood to begin.

It’s like fueling up the car before a trip, so no one faces any inconvenience during the travel.

Especially women who have had a habit of smoking or other things affecting them in any way need to build up their reserve for the pregnancy and to have a healthy baby. 

Doctors know prenatal vitamins have many benefits for expecting mothers, so they generally advise all those planning their pregnancy. 

Doctors wouldn’t recommend it if it had any detrimental side effects, such as messing up the menstrual cycle. So, when it comes to thinking that taking prenatal vitamins has something to do with messing up your cycle, you should reconsider the cause.

The changing menstrual cycle

A young woman who's on her period is sitting on her bed in discomfort

If your menstrual cycle is shorter than 24 days, more than 38 days long, or if the length varies from month to month, you have irregular periods. 

While an irregular menstrual cycle is understandable when a person is going through puberty, breastfeeding, or approaching menopause, it’s not normal under any other circumstance.

Irregular periods are more often a result of a change in hormonal levels caused by multiple factors.

Estrogen, progesterone, and follicle-stimulating hormone are the main hormones responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle, and when these are affected, so does your entire cycle.

Some causes for short-termed irregular cycle includes:

  • Natural hormonal shifts
  • Hormonal birth control
  • Stress
  • Endurance exercise
  • Weight loss

Other reasons for the more long-term effect of the menstrual cycle could stem from underlying health conditions. And having a messed up menstrual period could be one of the other symptoms indicating an issue that needs to be diagnosed.

Possible long-term causes include:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, binge eating, or bulimia nervosa.
  • Endometriosis
  • Thyroid diseases such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • Hormone secreting tumors

Having an irregular menstrual period from time to time is nothing to be worried about as your hormones are bound to fluctuate every now and then.

If there’s a regular pattern and symptoms, you need to see your healthcare provider. 

Possible side effects of prenatal vitamins

Even if there’s no direct relation between prenatal vitamins causing issues with your menstrual cycle, it’s indeed a supplement that might have a few side effects.

These are also common, with some side effects a pregnant woman faces.

These include:

  • Digestive issues can be caused such as constipation. Iron present in this supplement can sometimes clog the digestive pipes resulting in other problems such as stomach cramps, upset stomach, bloating, gas, hard or small bowel movements, dark bowel movements.
  • Vitamin A might have effects such as hair loss, dry skin, or itchiness. Whereas vitamin E might cause one to bruise easily or leave with a skin rash.
  • Specific prenatal vitamins such as iron, calcium, iodine, and other minerals can sometimes cause hives, stomach bleeding, teeth staining, or muscle weakness. 

Supplements always come after suggesting a healthy diet by the doctor, and so even if they do help, they aren’t always good for you.

Any of the vitamins or minerals in excessive amounts can cause side effects.

So, you should always take these supplements after discussing them with your health care provider. 


How to prevent side effects of prenatal vitamins?

If you’re planning on taking prenatal vitamins, it’s always better to discuss them with your doctor because you might not even need them.

Any excess of vitamins or minerals can sometimes result in various side effects. 

If you’re taking prenatal vitamins, you can take steps to prevent any side effects because you might face a few of them like any other supplement.

– Take them regularly and in the dosage recommended by your doctor.
– Keep yourself hydrated and take one glass of water whenever taking this supplement.
– Make sure to take them after you’ve had a meal and not an empty stomach.
– Don’t take other supplements when taking this one and if you’re on some medications, discuss them with your doctor first.
– Try to have a well-balanced diet with fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics. 
– If a specific brand isn’t suiting you, ask your doctor to change it. 
– A pregnant woman taking prenatal vitamins might have it more difficult.

Can I take prenatal vitamins while on birth control?

Some women think it’s good to take prenatal vitamins even if they aren’t planning to get pregnant.

It’s because this supplement is full of iron, folic acid, calcium, and other nutrients, which can help them keep their skin, hair, and nails healthier.

This supplement is recommended by a doctor only if you’re planning to get pregnant and so has short-term usage. It’s because when you take it unplanned, it can cause an excess of these vitamins and minerals in your body, having adverse effects.

If you’re not planning to get pregnant, you can ask your doctor to recommend other supplements of vitamins and minerals like maybe a daily multivitamin. But try to have a well-balanced diet to incorporate all your deficiencies through healthy food. 

For how long is it normal to miss your periods?

When it comes to having irregular periods, it depends entirely on the hormones. A fluctuating hormonal level can cause periods to become irregular.

Missing your periods for 2 months can be considered normal if there’re no other symptoms to watch out for.

But if there’re other indications, there could be an underlying health issue, or you should be worried if you don’t get your periods for 3 to 6 months. You should definitely consult a doctor. 

How long after taking prenatal vitamins can you expect to get pregnant?

Prenatal vitamins are recommended by a doctor to fill out your body’s nutritional gaps. This will help ensure you have a healthy pregnancy and child when you give birth.

We might lack many vitamins and minerals, so prenatal vitamins can help prepare your body for pregnancy.

In any case, this supplement doesn’t increase a woman’s fertility, nor does it help get pregnant faster.

Getting pregnant depends on many other factors, where your partner’s health is also one factor. So, you can’t expect to get pregnant faster after taking these vitamins. 

To summarise

Prenatal vitamins prove beneficial before or during months of pregnancy to the mother and baby in many ways, such as birth defects. They’re essential for a mother who has many deficiencies before pregnancy. 

Although these supplements might have a few side effects you might face if you take them before getting pregnant, messing up your menstrual cycle isn’t one of them.

Having irregular periods is based on fluctuating hormones which could be temporary or indicate an underlying health issue. 

However, no supplement is perfect, and even doctors prefer having a healthy diet before recommending supplements of any sort. 

Even though these vitamins might not mess up your cycle, they have a few non-harmful side effects that one should consider before including them as part of their routine! 

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Saumya Malik
I'm an ardent follower of everything good for the health and wellness of body and mind. I am passionate about providing effective solutions to general health and mental well-being issues and wants to help people achieve the same. When I'm not writing, you can find me curled up with a good book in a corner or cooking as a form of good mental therapy.

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