I am so excited to tell you that I finally got my period back!!! I have been waiting so long to say that. I started the recovery journey over a year ago but was “half in” the first 5 months and the last 7.5 months I went all in. Today I finally get to tell you what I did to get my period back!
I have always been self conscious of my body and weight especially the weight I carried in my stomach. I recall wishing every birthday from a very young age that I would get skinny that year. I believed that would lead to happiness. My entire life I have always been on that journey to get to lean and ripped. I was obsessed with my weight from a young age and was always trying to lose that last 5 or 10 pounds. I owned Shape, Muscle and Fitness Hers and Oxygen magazine and those women were the ideal body types I always dreamed of having. I never wanted to be super skinny but I wanted to be muscular and lean and then I thought I would be beautiful.
My relationship with food and exercise started changing in high school. I tried a vegetarian diet because I thought that was the way I could drop a few pounds because I didn’t know much about nutrition. I also started doing cardio to get in better shape and I was happy with the progress and loved working out but it just wasn’t enough.
Exercise was a part of my life since I was young. I fell in love with lifting before lifting was cool. It was back in the day when I was told I would turn masculine if I lifted weights. Throughout college my weight went up and down and I went through bursts of exercising a lot to not caring about it and drinking and partying like most college students.
I never could quite maintain that ideal weight that I wanted to be. My body would usually not let me get below a certain weight before I rebounded an my weight would go back up. That was years ago and I really haven’t dealt with the restrict-binge cycle in about a decade. Even though I was past that, I still wasn’t listening to my body’s needs and would do all the wrong things.
Healthy Intentions that Turn Unhealthy
Fast forward to 2011 and I lost a ton of weight for my wedding. This is the first time I actually got to that low weight I had always dreamed of. I had abs but I could only achieve it by being on a very low calorie diet. There was no way my body could maintain it. I never once lost my period through any of the years but I was also on birth control and I remember the withdrawal bleed got lighter and lighter. Once I got married I got off BCPs and we started trying to have a baby. I was cycling normally after I came off Birth Control but had a short luteal phase. We both knew something was up and we saw a fertility Doctor 6 months into trying and we found out we had to go straight to IVF due to low sperm count. I did 5 IVFs to get my son and throughout these I was exercising a lot to counter all the weight I gained on the hormones.
I did a lot of cardio and lifting during the two years I was trying to conceive to keep the weight gain to a minimum and to keep me sane. I hate to admit it but this could be why it took so long for the embryos to stick. I finally did get pregnant and I had a fit pregnancy but quickly lost the pregnancy weight soon after our son was born. I breastfed for a year so my period never came back before we started our next IVF for our daughter. I do think my body was in a better place because I was fueling it more and eating a lot of carbs. I wasn’t doing the endless cardio and long sessions anymore because I didn’t have the time and I realized more was not always better. I was exercising smarter not harder.
I got pregnant on the first round but I was also at that same higher weight I was when I got pregnant with my son. After my daughter was born I was really stressed. More stressed than I have ever been in my life. My husband went to work second shift and I was home at night with both kids, exhausted, waking solely in the middle of the night to breastfeed, working full time and exercising daily. Needless to say even after weaning from breastfeeding my period never arrived. The doctors kept saying to give it longer. Finally almost 3 years after having my daughter and about 1.5 year after weaning I decided I needed to make a change.
If I was to pinpoint all the causes of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea they would be:
- BCPs and IVF Hormones
- Pregnancies Close Together
- Constant Caloric Deficit
- Too Much Exercise
- Intermittent Fasting
- Lack of Sleep
- Postpartum Anxiety
- Low Fat
- Low Body Weight
My Recovery Journey
August 2018 I decided to start cutting back exercise and only lifted 4 days per week. I put on 3-5 lbs but my period did not come and had blood work taken. My Luteinizing Hormone was 0.5 and Estrogen was about 5. It was like I already was in menopause.
January 2019 I decided I had enough and I went “All In” since I didn’t have any significant changes. I started really gaining weight and focusing on decreasing stress. I did yoga and very light walking on occasion. I was at BMI of 18 to 19 when I started and I knew I needed to get to at least 22 which was damn scary. I would punch in that number in those online calculators and prayed I didn’t have to gain so much.
February 2019 I started working with a coach in February and then boosted up calories to at least 2500 but some day it would range from 2200 to over 3K depending on appetite. The more you eat the faster you recover. This is something I learned throughout this journey. I gained a significant amount of weight for my size. I am a shortie. I didn’t record how much I ate but I ate enough where I was probably putting on about lb a week in the beginning. I know some people don’t like to give numbers but I think it’s good to hear others experiences as long as you know that yours could be more or less. I gained 20 lbs so I went up 20% in body weight which is a pretty decent amount to feel damn uncomfortable.
May 2019 I tried Clomid one time to see if it would kickstart my own cycles. I did ovulate and I had a period but it did not start my cycles the next month. After that my body seemed stuck trying to ovulate.
June 2019 I had all the signs of ovulation but nothing was happening. My body was stuck trying for almost a month straight of signs. I was having a follicular wave that didn’t end. I decided to go on Provera again which I had tried twice throughout the past year but never had a period. This time it worked which meant I was closer then ever before. I went on Soy Isoflavones (the natural Clomid) after Provera and 30 days later I had a period!
Changes that brought my period back:
- Reducing Stress – Journaling, Asking for Help, Being lazy!
- Stopped Stressing Over Food and My Body and Exercise
- Exercising Less – No Lifting or Cardio
- Sleeping More
- Time (this one was difficult because it’s out of our control)
- Extra Weight
- Extra Calories
- Possibly Soy Isoflavones
- Stopped Intermittent Fasting
- More Fats
If was to pinpoint what happened over the last month before I got it back it was that I completely let go. I stopped trying to control my hunger and suppressing it. I let go of what I thought my body should look like and learned to love it the way it was. I accepted that this is where my body needed to be. I do think my body wanted to get to my postpartum weight. That was the weight I got to before my periods were restored and it was the weight I was before I dropped nearly 20 pounds in 12 weeks right after my daughter was born. Your body knows and it remembers.
I’ve seen girls seriously recover in 3 weeks which to me seems mind blowing. Especially since it took me almost 8 months of going all in and another 5 months prior to that half in. I think my mind needed this time to heal. I wanted to give up many times but I never did. This process works. Try not to compare and be patient with yourself. Your body will recover when it’s ready.
This journey has completed changed the trajectory of my life and given me the energy to take my life back into my hands. I believe in the process so much I am going to start coaching other women on how to recover their periods and heal their relationship with food, exercise and themselves. If you are interested send me an email or DM me on Instagram!