I lost my period for 4 years! Im sharing my 5 best tips for Hypothalamic amenorrhea treatment.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be as these are solely based on my experiences. Please consult your family doctor before considering any recommendations listed in this post. Thanks!
Hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) is the absence of your period for 3 consecutive months or more. In many cases, HA is due to a lack of energy availability in the form of undereating, over exercising, and STRESS. Many Women experience HA, especially in the “fitness” community and I do not believe it is talked about nearly enough. I put the quotations on fitness because not having a period is not healthy or normal. If you have gone to your doctor regarding the issue, they should NOT have put you on the pill as that just induces a withdrawal bleed (aka: fake period). To regain your natural period, one must reduce exercise, increase calories, and as a result…gain some Weight.
How I developed Hypothalamic amenorrhea
When a girl transitions from a child to a woman, it is natural to gain some healthy weight. You do not need to diet because you now have hips, thicker thighs, or a little pooch at the bottom of your stomach. I wish someone was there to tell me that when I went on my first diet at 15 years old. Prior to my diet I had a very regular period. I wasn’t fat and I didn’t count calories, I was a very happy and healthy kid. however, coming from a very active and heath focused family, my womanly weight was starting to get noticed. I would like to first point out my family is very supportive, and truely was thinking of my health and wellbeing. It just so happens they, and many other people, think weight gain is bad.
“Hailee, you’ve put on some pounds!”
“I think you should lose some weight”
“Why don’t you go for a run?”
*if you have a daughter or son, please be mindful of the words you use because it can lead them down avery dark path that’s is hard to get off of*
After hearing this from my family, It catalyzed my first diet that consisted of:
- 1200 calories a day – because that’s what my fitness pal told me to do * que eye roll
- 6-7 days a week of aerobic exercise (I still played sports at the time as well)
- Skipped breakfast and fasted (sometimes until after school which is 4pm)
I lost weight very rapidly and developed very disordered behaviors such as:
- Pacing around my room for steps
- Fidgeting to burn calories
- Saying I’ve eaten when I haven’t
My first diet caused the next 4-5 years of my life to be stolen by an eating disorder. Starting as anorexia, turned bulimia, and finally binge eating. I was never formally diagnosed with an eating disorder but I definitely had one I didn’t want to admit. When you have an ED you get really good at keeping secrets so I never told anyone the truth. I was too ashamed. The energy deficit I inflicted on myself was way too steep. I was probably netting 800 calories a day (net calories = eaten – exercise) and as a result I developed hypothalamic amenorrhea about 2 months into my diet. I lost a total of 30 lbs in a couple months and had no intention of gaining it back, and so, my body had no intention of starting my cycle up again.
What happens when your body is in an extreme deficit
When one’s body is deficient in nutrients and energy, it will start to shut down “unnecessary” systems such as the reproductive system. There is no need to have a baby when you are struggling to keep your own body functioning efficiently. Some may know this as Starvation mode. However, Hypothalamic amenorrhea does not just cause a loss of period, other systems may be effected as well and cause:
- Hair loss
- feeling cold all the time
- irregular or missing period
- poor sleep
- brittle nails and skin issues
- anxiety and unstable moods
Unfortunately, lean bodies are idolized in our society when being lean means giving up your health. Most people have to learn that the hard way because there’s not enough information on the repercussions of being lean.
SO…What is the secret to Hypothalamic amenorrhea treatment?
Since I had an ED, eating was very scary for me at first and I suggest you seek help if you also struggle with an eating disorder. I didn’t get help when I should have and I recovered on my own. I just bit the bullet and decided I was going to regain my health and in order to do that I had to:
Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Treatment 1. EAT EAT EAT
a minimum of 2500cals per day of a variety of foods – mainly carbs and fats as those were the macronutrients i was depriving myself of. I also found myself going well over 2500 most days, try not to judge yourself or the amount of food you eat. More is better in HA treatment! Many of you reading this post may know of the term “going all in” for period recovery. I did try that and shocker, it worked! Read about my experience here
Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Treatment 2. REDUCE EXERCISE
I did not completely cut out exercise in my HA treatment, though, I know some women have to. I managed to get my period back while continuing light walking and weight lifting some days a week. Exercise is a stressor on the body so if your body is very sensitive to stress, you will have to cut it out completely until you have regained your period for 3 consecutive cycles.
Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Treatment 3. REDUCE STRESS
Any type of mental stress such as work, family, relationship, or having too much on your plate at once is best to reduce during HA treatment. your body is in a continuous “fight or flight” mode when you’re stressed all the time. I tried to incorporate self care activities everyday such as stretching, baking, reading, taking a bath, and watching netflix. My body needed rest and recovery so that’s what I gave it.
Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Treatment 4. GET SUPPORT
You will gain weight on this journey, how much? I don’t know. Will you lose it eventually? probably not… that may be hard to hear for some people, it was for me, but the truth hurts sometimes. A huge factor that helped me through the weight gain process and body image issues was having support from my family and friends. I was always the “fit” one and going through this journey stripped me of that title. BUT this journey also gave me life, genuine relationships, and a new perception of what’s important to me. spoiler alert: I don’t care if i have abs anymore!
you may also benefit from joining the “No period now what” facebook group filled with lovely ladies going through the same thing <3
Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Treatment 5. WORK ON BODY IMAGE
Since Hypothalamic amenorrhea is very common in the fitness world, its common for women to be very weight focused. Being hyper focused on weight and how you look makes HA treatment harder when you dont like the women starting back at you in the mirror. Working on body image and how you precieve your self worth can be valuable in HA treatment! Here are some strateges I use in my our personal journey:
- create a list of affirmations that make you feel good
- when you do find a flaw in yourself, counter it with something you love about yourself
- take baby steps, tell yourself something you believe and then work your way up the later
On that last point, I find when I told myself I loved my body when I really didnt, It made things worse. Instead, I told myself I loved my courage to begin this journey which at the time is much more believeable. Be gentle with yourself.
Hypothalamic amenorrhea treatment is not an easy journey. Especially when you feel like your losing your identity. However, you must decide what is mor important to you: How you look? or how you feel and the health of your body? I know which one I would choose and I hope you choose the same!
If you have any further questions or would like to open up to me about your journey through hypothalamic ammenorhea, feel free to contact me!