Today it is time to dive into a subject that is near and dear to my heart. Today I will be talking all about amenorrhea! So first things first… what is amenorrhea and why do I want to talk about it? Amenorrhea, simply put, is the abnormal lack of a period. Primary amenorrhea is when a woman never has a period, and secondary amenorrhea is when a woman originally gets her period during puberty, but then it goes away.
There are MANY different reasons why this may arise and become an issue for a woman. This is a very scary subject, especially for those of us in our child-bearing years! I am going to use this post to share my experience and talk about what I did to try and get my period back. I hope that this post is helpful and you learn a little bit more about this subject from what happened to me. And trust me, it is still a work in progress.
Those that are close to me know how much of a challenge this has been. There were times where I would be crying and not be able to sleep because I thought that we would not be able to have kids. Taylor was scared too. But I did not give up or give in, I continued to try new things that could lead me in the right direction. And I wanted to make sure these things were holistic approach, instead of using medication, hormones, etc. However, if it came down to it, I would’ve tried anything. I tell you all of this because being positive and optimistic about this situation really did help me. If I would’ve just given up or given in, I wouldn’t have known the power in healing my hormones naturally. I was determined to get healthy and fix my hormones and not give up, which eventually lead me to success.
Let’s start from the beginning. I was on the pill for about 10 years. When I was in college I started to notice that even on the “sugar pill” week, I would not have a period. It was at this time when I decided I should take a break from the pill and make sure my body was still in good hormonal shape. I was proven that this was not the case when my period never came back. It is true that I didn’t know too much at this time about how birth control can cause the body to get out of whack. Some people call this, Post-Birth Control Syndrome, which is basically a name for all of the symptoms that arise when one stops taking the pill. Symptoms range from acne and hair loss, to complete loss of a menstrual cycle. I started seeing my conventional medicine doctors to try and figure out what was wrong with me. Most doctors just told me to go back on the pill to get my cycle to normalize. They didn’t understand that that wasn’t my goal and I wanted to get it back naturally. I fell for it the first time and went back on the pill. After a couple of months with extreme symptoms (breast tenderness and enlargement, cramps, etc.) I stopped the pill again and went to a conventional medicine specialist.
Luckily, the specialist listened to me and decided to do a few more tests to figure out what was wrong. We took what felt like hundreds of vials of blood, and when nothing showed up we did a transvaginal ultrasound to look at all of the internal organs. That was quite the experience. Nothing showed up there except the uterine lining was very thin. There are a number of reasons why the lining could be thin, ranging from a woman not getting enough estrogen, to scarring of the cavity from previous surgery. This was concerning to me because it meant that I was nowhere near having a period. A woman needs her uterine lining to thicken in order to prepare for the implantation of a fertilized egg to become pregnant.
The last step that was taken was to get an MRI of my pituitary gland to see if there was a tumor. This was because my doc thought that my pituitary gland wasn’t able to communicate to send out hormones to the rest of my body. There was no tumor. In my last meeting with that doctor to go over the results, she basically said she didn’t know what was wrong, I should go back on the pill, and if I wanted to have kids I would have to start looking into other options. Wow, that hurt. Can you imagine being told that?
For some reason, I was still confident and wanted to keep trying. I started doing my own research and began to really get into holistic nutrition (I had a few other medical issues going on as well). I wanted to heal my body from the inside out and find the root cause of my problems. I started with doing what I could with my diet to get healthier, changing to mainly nutrient-dense, whole foods. When I moved up to Seattle, I immediately looked for a naturopath or a functional medical doctor. I wanted someone to help me take the natural route. After all of this time, my doctors never told me that sometimes it takes a while to get your period back after you are on the pill. They never said that my hormones might just be out of whack and need to be leveled out over time. I was just urged to get back on the pill. The funny thing was that my naturopath still was suggesting all types of different hormones and supplements to take. I would’ve been more open to supplements and bio-identical hormones if I was actually trying to conceive right then and there but since I am not, I opted out. I focused on my diet with the help of a few supplements to start balancing out my body’s hormones, vitamin and mineral levels.
Since this story is getting long, I wanted to lay out the rest of the process in an easy to read format. Below is a summary of the entire process:
- A review of the different things that docs had tried:
- Re-starting the pill- she basically told me if I didn’t menstruate, I would get early-onset osteoporosis so I needed to take the hormones.
- Every blood test under the sun
- Transvaginal Ultrasound
- MRI of pituitary gland to see if there was a tumor
- Urged me to take all sorts of bioidentical hormones including pregnenolone and progesterone.
**To be quite honest, all of these steps were pretty extreme. If we would’ve just started out trying to balance my hormones naturally, we could’ve skipped these steps.
- What has actually helped:
- Eating more (and eating lots more healthy fat)
- Fully transitioning to a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet
- No fake/artificial ingredients, sweeteners, etc.
- Don’t eat gluten or dairy on the regular- but I don’t deprive myself either (YOLO!) I believe in a balanced mindset and lifestyle approach.
- I just try to eat foods that make me feel good, not bad!
- Gaining a little body weight and body fat- It is never easy for a woman to gain weight or fat, even if there is a good reason for it. But if we just keep our end goal in mind, it makes it all worth it.
- A little less heavy weights, a little more body weight workouts
- A little less cardio
- Reducing stress!
- I actually got my first period 2 months after I quit my job when we moved to Kirkland. This, however, was alongside everything else I was working on.
- Acupuncture- We focus on fertility, digestion, and sleep.
- Yoga- Perfect for putting your mind at ease J Meditation also can help.
- Why did this happen to me in the first place?
- There are many different factors that can contribute to amenorrhea in general, but I have listed the things below that were most likely factors for me:
- Being on the pill for many years
- Losing too much weight my senior year in college. This was actually unintentional when I got super into bodybuilding style workouts.
- This is also when I noticed no bleeding in between cycles of the pill. I stopped the pill to see if I could get my period naturally and it never came (this was about 5 years ago).
- I slowly gained weight back up over a two year period of time in a healthy fashion. The problem at this point was that doctors just could not figure out my unexplained lack of a menstrual cycle.
- STRESS– It is kind of crazy that I actually got my period back for the first time a couple months after I quit my corporate job. Stress is a killer and can cause a multitude of problems that most people don’t know about or don’t think about.
As mentioned above, there is a happy ending to this story and I did get my period back after a few long years of working on it. At first it was every three months, then every other month, and I finally had my first 28 day cycle last month! It is still an ongoing process, however. My journey does not just stop here. My hormones are still a little bit unbalanced and I can tell that because I have symptoms of estrogen dominance. I got my blood work done and my estradiol was through the roof. But instead of taking all types of bio-identical hormones and supplements, I decided I still want to try balancing this out on my own. I will keep you updated on how that goes 🙂 I am going to take the Dutch Test soon and that will take a deeper dive into my hormones and my body’s ability to detox estrogen, etc. I believe that my body is just going to have to learn how to detox estrogen again because it has not been having regular cycles for very long.
PLEASE reach out to me if you have any questions about this post. I am happy to talk in more detail about my experience with you if you want to know more! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope it resonates with a few of you, and helps some of you in your fertility journey. If you are looking for a nutritional therapist to help you along the way, I am more than eager to help women with their hormones! Lastly, I just want to point out that this post is just to share my story, but everyone’s body is different so what may have worked for me, may not work for you. What may have caused my amenorrhea, may be different than the reason you lost your period. I am not trying to say that any doctors were in the wrong, I am just trying to tell my story and help others be their own health advocates. When sharing my experiences, I want others to learn and feel empowered in their own journeys!