I don’t have a crazy weight loss story, nor do I have a dramatic journey of a severe eating disorder. However, what I have experienced is lack of my period for the last 3 years due to intense exercise and under eating.
I am really healthy, I eat clean, exercise daily & look good in a bikini...... but... I don’t have my period. This was my view for 3 years after coming of the contraceptive pill. I thought I was the picture of health, I ran a marathon and practically sprung out of bed the next morning, I could squat heavier than a lot of the guys in my gym and I was dedicated to my workout routine like I was the next Jess Ennis.
However, I had gone 3 years without a period, the doctor & specialist both told me not to worry and that some athletes don’t have their period. Brilliant! What a complement, I thought! The next morning I woke up and did my 25 rounds of sprints followed by a brutal abs session & a power yoga class that night. Saving money on tampons, no bloating or PMS, I thought I was on to a winner. At this time I think my priority to look as good as I could and be the fittest one in the gym.
I always ensured I was not over eating, only having bread on special occasions as I feared carbs like the plague, as a result of this, I was obviously quite lean but I looked healthy.
As I approached 3 years without my cycle, it started to bother me, I became increasingly aware of ‘health & balance’. Social media played a big role in opening up my eyes to that fact that abs were not a definition of happiness or fulfilment, which is ironic as it was probably social media that made me think it was.
I was getting older and was engaged so I started to think about a family, of course, I knew this was not possible if I was not having a period. So I spent ALOT of time reading blog after blog about women who have hypothermic amenorrhea (the technical name for absence of period) and the common causes of it read:
I could quite honestly say that several of the above applied to me, if i was honest with myself, which was hard, as I felt I was admitting that everything I had been doing was wrong. My instagram feed was full of girls leaner than me, girls who didn't eat carbs, who worked out more than me and I strived to me the same or better. I was essentially brain washed into thinking I was doing the right thing!
I was literally obsessed & addicted to my fitness so I was not focusing on my own body or listen to it & what it needed.
As read more; it started to sink in as I learnt that not having your menstrual cycle can lead to osteoporosis, a higher risk of cancer and possibly complete infertility! I began to step outside of my world to see that my routine was not normal and not necessary. My dedication to health & fitness was making me unhealthy.
I wanted my period back and knew this was not going to happen until I gained fat & changed my current routine, admittedly I was petrified of the change. It felt like a total loss of control, which I hated.
I actually got help from an online specialist who had helped hundreds of girls like me. She knew what I was going through and was the first person who sat me down to say you will not get your period until you stop over exercising, cutting carbs and under eating. Hearing it from someone else helps. It’s an expensive route but once you have the expert advice and pay for the support you are committed. From that point I went on a journey, first of all I quit the gym (extreme I know), ate more, focused on carbs and reduced stress.
I genuinely shed tears at the thought of this but looking back I can now see how ridiculous that was. Once I quit the gym and changed my diet it took 3 -4months to get my first period and my cycle has been normal since (for 7 months). I probably gained about 3/4 of a stone, which was noticeable to me, a lot of my clothes didn't fit but I can’t tell you how thrilled I am every time my period comes.
During this process I learnt the importance of balance, no food is bad, I don't need to be the the fittest girl going, its ok to sip a workout, there is more to life.
I have written this as I felt pretty alone when I went through the process, I felt stupid crying about gaining weight, i felt lost without the gym to attend to every morning. My friends and family supported me but they didn’t get it really. It wasn't east even when my period was coming back I was bloated and my skin wasn’t great I felt moody and my clothes didn’t fit, it sucked. I managed to stick with it. It really helped to write the top 3 reasons why I was doing this and stick them on the wall to remind me daily :
I have pulled together a few other tips for you that could help if you have had the relevant health checks and there is no explanation for lack of period then it is likely your lifestyle is causing this. Doctors don’t help with this & I advise you not to wait 3 years like me.