How bulimia affects your period
Bulimia nervosa (BN) may cause changes in your menstrual cycle, or period. It has been known to shorten cycles, stop the period for a short period of time, give you more periods, and cause a light flow during the cycle. All of these changes indicate that there are hormonal disruptions that are occurring with bulimia. (1)
Any condition that affects your nutritional intake has the potential to affect your menstrual period. When asking yourself, “can bulimia cause irregular periods,” there are a few things to consider, starting with your eating habits. Individuals with bulimia nervosa, like other eating disorders, can often become malnourished. Malnutrition, regardless of a persons’ weight, can potentially affect an individual's period. (1)
Purging can cause electrolyte imbalances leading to dehydration. Malnutrition can also affect hormonal production or response which can alter menstrual periods.
In one study, all 14 patients with bulimia had pathologically low follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels. Pathologically low means it’s altered enough to cause a distinct state of disease.
In the study, two thirds of those with bulimia nervosa had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is known to affect periods. The malnutrition associated with BN results in hormonal dysfunction, menstrual disturbances and infertility.
Many doctors say that hormone treatment is the solution. However, doctors in Hungary concluded that estrogen replacement is not the best treatment. Early treatment of the eating disorder is more appropriate. The doctors also stated that it is questionable to prescribe excessive hormonal contraceptives. (2)