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What is Hypothalamic amenorrhea (missed period) and how to fix it!

Having a missed period is not something to ignore. Our cycles are a female’s 5th vital sign of health and if it’s missing, that means your health is not up to par. I struggled with a missing period aka hypothalamic amenorrhea for 4 YEARS. Symptoms of hypothalamic amenorrhea are not fun. You may think it’s amazing to not have to deal with the blood, the tampons, and the PMS discomfort every month but it’s not. It comes with a lot of ill side effects that you may already be experiencing! If you are tired of not getting your cycle and want to feel like a healthy woman again, read on;)

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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!

What is hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA)?

Hypothalamic amenorrhea is defined as missing 3 or more consecutive periods in a row due to an energy deficit. An can be due to over-exercising, under-eating, or a little bit of both! HA can also be a side effect of having too much stress in your life (yes dieting and exercise is a stressors when abused).

As women, we have been told that eating less and moving more is the answer to our weight loss goals and that may be true to some extent, but there is some info that has been neglected.

  • As women, we are more sensitive to stress than men. Therefore, fasting and extreme diets cutting out macronutrient groups leave us worse off and without a cycle.
  • Women need a lot more calories than you may think. A lot of my clients come to me eating sub 1500 calories and think that’s enough. IT’S NOT and the fact that you have missed periods is a clear sign you are not eating enough to sustain your lifestyle.

Symptoms of hypothalamic amenorrhea

Some underlying symptoms of hypothalamic amenorrhea you may be overlooking but are closely tied to your missed period. Side effects such as:

  • Hair loss
  • Digestive issues
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and mood issues
  • Fatigue (all the time)
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • skin issues

Just to name a few, you may experience some or all of these symptoms of hypothalamic amenorrhea. Either way, you deserve to feel good and regain your cycle.

what is hypothalamic amenorrhea and what are the symptoms of hypothalamic amenorrhea? Here I list all of the side effects tha come along having a missed period!

How long will it take?

It may take longer if you do it slower which is a personal choice. You may also find if you have been restricting for a while and start to allow more food, your appetite will increase and you end up eating the minimum 2500 calories anyways.

If your period has not been missing for very long, you may also find it takes less time and food to regain it back, this is because you probably aren’t far off a healthy weight to begin with. Which is great! 

Do I have to gain weight?

Sorry to be the bad guy but you are going to gain weight if you want your fertility to return. Chances are your body does not like the weight you’re at and wants a little more. For me, that was adding 10lbs which was a lot at the time but the benefits 100% outweigh being lean.

How my life improved gaining weight:

  • Getting my period back
  • Going out to eat without guilt
  • Letting go of tracking my food religiously
  • Booty gainz
  • Boobie gainz
  • Strength in the gym
  • Energy throughout the day
  • Healthy hair
  • Healthy skin
  • Improved digestion
  • better sleep

So many things to benefit from weight gain that have nothing to do with how you look. It’s about how you feel. I felt my womanhood was missing when I didn’t have my period. I feel more complete now that she’s back☺

Foods you should include to get your cycle back

First and foremost – you need to increase food consumption overall. This means more fats, more carbs, and more protein! Some foods I would suggest you focus on to heal symptoms of hypothalamic amenorrhea include:

  • Healthy fats (and lots of em’) like nuts, seeds, avocado, whole milk (raw), flax seeds/oil, salmon, and other oily fish are shown to improve fertility.
  • Ensuring adequate calcium intake is met for bone health paired with vitamin D to help reduce and reverse any bone density loss.
  • Reintroduce carbs. Complex carbs with fiber for larger meals and simple carbs pre and post-exercise to ensure your body is getting the energy it (desperately) needs to recover.
  • Work on your relationship with food too. I’m going to take a wild WILD guess and say your relationship with food isn’t so great. How do I know that? because it takes a lot of restrictions and rules to develop hypothalamic amenorrhea. Reintroduce fear foods slowly but surely so you are eventually able to eat without guilt! It’s worth it, trust me;)

Doing the mindset work

Recovering your missed period is going to take some mindset work, not just physical work. You likely have a messed up relationship with food and your body. Weight gain is the scariest part of the journey right now, isn’t it?

You’re going to have to let go of control, trust the process, and have some blind faith. It’s about to get uncomfortable and you ARE going to have bad body image days but if you do some of these mindset tactics along the way you can heal the way you view your body:

  • Journal your thoughts and feelings out on paper. Thoughts are fleeting and not all of them need to be important. For example “I feel fat” is not a thought you need to hold so much worth to. It’s just a few words put together. Try this: every time you say something mean about yourself flip it around and counter it with something you do like.
  • Meditation was life-changing for me and I still do it to this day. Remember when I mentioned stress to be a culprit to your missing period? Well, meditation can help calm your mind. Try some guided ones if you’re just starting out!
  • Use some sticky notes on your mirror to remind you that this is more important than staying lean. Revisit why you even started eating healthy and working out in the first place…to be healthy! Healthy women have a regular cycle;)
Going all in, the science of eating to support a missing period.

There is also a notion of stopping exercise completely in period recovery. Should you stop or not? Read my thoughts on that in this article

Closing thoughts on “all in” to recover missed periods

I’ll be real with you, it sucks at the start. Gaining weight is a mind f*ck and it’s going to be uncomfortable but I assure you the outcome will be worth it! You will regain your period and your health. I cried so many times looking at my body in the mirror which also forced me to change my thoughts about myself, to be kind instead of cynical, and start forgiving myself and the situation. Life is tough sometimes, but so are you. If you need help along the journey – you know where to find me;)

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    until next time xx

    -Hailee

    references:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6374026/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7418467/

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