If you are a dude, be warned, this one is ALL about woman issues and hormones. The following words will be used: period, cycle, hormones, and other words that may be considered profanities in your mind. Read at your own risk.
I have to tell you guys something that feels somewhat like a confession. For the past 5 years (so a year before starting this blog) I have struggled with amenorrhea. If you think the word struggled is a bit extreme, I get that. How could not having a period be a struggle? Well, it is. It is because you know your body isn’t functioning right, you know something is wrong and you don’t know what to do. I had always intended to write about it, but I didn’t want to add to the confusion out there. I had read so many posts from people who had it but hadn’t solved it, I didn’t want to contribute to the confusion. I wanted to share the answer. However, if you would have asked me 4 years ago if I thought it would take 5 long years to get my cycle back, I probably would have fainted.
You guys, there are so many posts in my drafts that consist of me pouring out my frustration, anger, fears and pain struggling with this issue. I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally be getting this off my chest. So, let me start from the beginning.
I started my cycle at age 14, a bit of a late bloomer compared to my friends but no big deal. It was regular, although I do remember some pretty severe fatigue and cramping in high school. I remember coming home those days passing out for hours under a heating pad, looking back I can see that might not have been normal. In college, I started having my cycle every two weeks and so the University doctor quickly put me on birth control. (First yasmin then later on yaz.) I continued on birth control for almost 6 years. For a variety of reasons, in the middle of graduate school, I decided to stop taking it. When I stopped it I got 1 cycle where I know I ovulated because I remember calling my future MIL (my mom would rather die than talk to me about these things) and asking her WTH was going on. Then absolutely nothing for 5 solid years. NOTHING. When I mean nothing, I mean nothing. I think the best thing I can do is break this up into sections, so here we go.
- “But you don’t look too skinny or emaciated?” —> my general reaction, “so what do I look like then?”
- “But I’ve been way skinnier than you and I haven’t lost my period yet” —> “thank you for pointing that out”
- “This may never go away for you.” —> this was said to me by the first Doctor I saw at Loma Linda. I’ll never forget his words. My thoughts, “I’ll show you.”
- “Maybe you should go back on birth control until your ready to have kids.” —> My thoughts, “how the hell does that solve the problem?”
- “Are you guys ever going to have kids?/ Do you guys want kids? / When do you want kids? ” —> “I don’t know if I can.”
- “My friend got off of birth control and her period came back right away.” My thoughts —> “thank you for sharing, mine did not.”
- “I think you need to eat a few Oreos and chill out.” —> “so chemical additives and preservatives are the answer to my problem?”
- “You need to chill out, relax, stop stressing.” My thoughts, “ so this is all my fault?” Whenever someone would tell me that it would stress me out so much further like something was wrong with me and I just needed to control my emotions. If I was stressed, that particular comment sent me off my rocker.
- “I’m not totally convinced you don’t have PCOS. “ —> WTF, am I suppose to do with that info? Should I eat fewer carbs than I’m already eating? (Update: I’ve received a lot of questions about carbs, I addressed that here.)Update: I’ve received a lot of questions about carbs, I addressed that here.)
- “We can try this medication.” I look it up, it’s for drug addicts weaning off drugs. No, thank you, hard pass.
- You’ve lost weight/gained weight. The hardest comment came in the last couple of months when someone told me my face looked fuller (and relaxed). If she wasn’t 90, I would have felt like hitting her. It stuck with me for daaaaayyyyyyysssss and daaaaaayyyyysss and daaaayyyyyssss. Then my husband reminded me the same person before would continuously ask me if I was getting enough to eat. So really you can’t win with some people, and that’s why you don’t worry about any people. More on that later.
This was around the same time that I know my metabolism was JACKED up because I at some point I started gaining weight at 1200 calories. I stopped counting calories and my weight normalized to my high school weight, but it was still a struggle. Let me preface something, my weight never dropped below an acceptable range, my body fat percentage was always normal and my BMI was never below 21. I didn’t look emaciated and I didn’t feel emaciated, yet my monthly cycle continued to elude me.
BODY IMAGE & WEIGHT
The most important thing I did that I think affected my cycle was to choose to love myself.
After about a year of that, I applied and took a job at Life Time Fitness. I loved every second of what I was doing, but eventually, 70 hour work weeks and variable pay caught up with me. Plus, let’s be honest. The fitness industry is not the place you want to be when you have amenorrhea. In the past year, I’ve been working on my own business and teaching at a local community college. It’s been a struggle to launch everything but totally worth it. I can manage my back pain which is, thanks to Dr.K, virtually gone. It pretty much flares when I travel and that’s it. I can manage my work schedule, get enough sleep, and pour my heart and soul into work I love. The hard part has been keeping up with my massive student loan, but I know I’m not the only entrepreneur millennial out there.
I mentioned in the emotions section that people have said things to me that cut me so deep I felt you could see into the hole straight through me. People have said things to me that stuck with me for years on end, and the best part is they probably don’t even remember saying them. My first Doctor in Loma Linda told me that this “probably wouldn’t go away for me.” Great. Your an ass. Next.
My second Doctor, in Arizona, at first made me feel really good. He was sure it would come back and he wanted to just wait it out. This Doctor was Catholic and so the best thing about him was that he wasn’t about to put me on birth control as the answer. He also made me feel, on several occasions stupid and like the problem was my fault. To the point that every time I went in to see him I would get so anxious the night before I would throw up. I should have stopped seeing him years before I did.
As I mentioned, I read SO SO SO many stories online of people who had lost their period, but few who talked about getting it back. Many of those admitted anorexic tendencies which I didn’t identify because I had abandoned eating 1200 calories and wasn’t counting anymore. I was at a healthy weight, body fat percentage, and BMI. In fact, I was at my high school weight, so it wasn’t like I was underweight. I never identified with those stories and I still don’t. One day I ran across a blog that I finally identified as at least somewhat similar to me and found out this blogger was in Arizona. I asked her to meet up and talk with me about it, and even though she lived an hour away, she agreed. We talked for a couple of hours and it became clear to me that some parts of our stories overlapped and others didn’t. However, just talking to her felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. She even gave me the name of her Doctor who helped her get her cycle back. Since then, she has become one of my greatest sources of support in friendship and in business. I’m really lucky to have found such a great friend who understood what I was going through.
The Doctor was out near her but about to move about 10 minutes from me, so I waited 6 months to see her. I didn’t realize it was that long till I started writing this, it seemed like just a couple months. When I finally went in to see her I spent at least 90 minutes with her, pouring out my frustration and being as honest as I’ve ever been in my life. Mostly frustrated that I’d been able to use supplements and food to help my clients get their cycles back, but not me. I realized when I left her office that what I needed was to stop treating myself, I needed to place my trust someone else. She had my total trust, as I knew she had solved a tough case once before. Trusting someone else took a ton of stress off me, which was really helpful.
I should also mention in this section that my MIL always always always listened and talked with me. She was caring, supportive, and wonderful. However, she couldn’t hold me accountable for seed cycling or any other diet change. I also would feel better and anxious at the same time while talking to her about this issue. Hi, it’s your DIL calling again about that problem that might cause you to never have grandchildren by your son. That was an accepted fact by all members of the family (or at least I assumed it was) but still weird to talk about.
So why do I call it a battle? Well, hopefully, you see now how many factors I was constantly weighing. It wasn’t just one thing, it was a combination of the right moves that finally brought it back. Many of those moves took courage beyond what I thought I could ever muster up.
I have a few things I’ll roll out soon like the new seed cycling protocol my Doctor put me on with recipes, updates on how the first couple months were, and what I’m hoping I’ll get out of this experience. I appreciate you all letting me share this story with you. I was going to wait until I had two cycles, but Mr. Hungry actually urged me to write about it sooner. I think he knew that it was important to me to share. I hope that this story helps someone out there to not lose hope and know they aren’t the only ones to go through this. More updates after the holiday.
- Post-Pill Amenorrhea Update (4 months later)
- Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance (6-month update)
- How to Make Your Hormones Work For You
- Low Carb? No Period? Why Your Hormones Need Carbs
- Iron Foods, Functions, and Facts (related)
- My friend Ashley wrote an ebook called Fit & Fertile (affiliate link)about her experience with Amenorrhea as a Group Fitness Instructor and what she did to get pregnant naturally. Her experience was different t n mine, but similar in some ways as well. Either way it was definitely a comforting read.