I’ve posted about my experience with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea several times on my Instagram and I just wanted to write a blog post about it also because what I found out is way more common than I thought and I hope that maybe I can give some insight to someone who might be struggling with what I was struggling with….
My story: I started doing bikini competitions in 2014. I was on the birth control pill but I had lost my period for a few months. It eventually came back within a few months so I thought nothing of it. I continued to compete on and off and every time I got super lean I lost it but it would always come back (because I was on the pill). In 2017 I stopped taking the pill all together and completely lost my cycle. I initially thought I had PBCS (post birth control syndrome) where it takes a few months to regain a cycle. But by late 2018, I was sitting at a healthy weight yet still without a period and I began to address the issues with hormone testing. I found that my Estradiol and Progesterone were extremely low. A doctor told me I might have PCOS but after an ultrasound, we were able to rule that out. At only 27 years old, my ob/gyn had zero answers for me except that I was an ‘active and healthy female’ (what I had been told every time at my annual). I am in no hurry to have children but I knew that not having a period could not be ‘healthy’. After digging deeper, listening to podcasts and doing my own research, I stumbled upon the book ‘No Period, Now What’ by Nicola Rhinaldi who has helped thousands of women recover from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea which is a condition of overtraining and undereating where the hypothalamus basically stops communicating with the ovaries because it feels unsafe to produce a baby. Even though I was sitting at a healthier weight and training a lot less than I had been when I was in competition mode, my body apparently still didn’t feel safe. My initial thought was to ‘reverse diet’ like I would out of competition but the more I read the book and other’s women’s stories, I found that the best way to recover was to follow the ‘all in’ approach as suggested in the book. ‘All in’ requires stopping all intense exercises except for walking and light yoga and eating a minimum of 2500 calories per day. (I had been eating about an average of 1400 per day prior to reading this book and I actually ended up eating closer to 3000 calories per day during recovery because I was ravenously hungry once I allowed myself to eat) I was SO scared because I kept reading stories of women who have been all in for 3-12 months, gained 35lbs and STILL didn’t have a period. However, I was EXTREMELY lucky, because within just less than a month of going all in, I got my first period! And now another month later I got my second period! I gained about 20lbs over the span of 2 months, which I’m not thrilled about, but I understand this is necessary for me to be healthy. The goal of the future is to find a balance/middle-ground but I am in no hurry and I will be using my period as a barometer of my health because the moment I lose my cycle, I’ll know I’m pushing too hard.
If you’re curious about my journey, I documented my it on my IG TV (@funsized.nutrition)
If you’re wondering about the all in process, watch Stephanie Buttermore’s Youtube channel.
If you suspect you might have HA, I highly suggest reading the ‘No Period, Now What’ book.