Disclaimer – males, this post is probably completely irrelevant and uninteresting to you. Unless you have a sister or girlfriend experiencing something similar. In that case, read at your own discretion.
Last night, I got my first period. No, not for the first time ever. I’m 22. For the first time since September 2011 (that’s 2.5 years). If you remember my history, you’ll know that September 2011 is also the same month that I began to workout and change my eating habits… I had amenorrhea for 2.5 years.
Amenorrhea is defined as the absence of a period for 3 months or more in an otherwise reproductive female. It can be caused by a variety of issues, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, pituitary gland issues, hypo- or hyper-thyroidism, eating disorders, rapid weightloss, and more.
When I first lost my period, I attributed it to my weightloss. I was still overweight after the first 3 months, but I figured the weightloss was the cause. After 7-8 months, I asked my doctor and they basically said the same thing. “Amenorrhea is common in active females. Many professional athletes have it, it’s not too much of a worry.” I thought ‘hm, okay. Not having a period IS kind of nice… I won’t stress it.’ Until months became years.. In March/April 2013 I decided to finally get extensive tests done at a reproductive specialist to figure out what was up. I got my blood tested multiple times for several levels such as estradiol, FSH, LH, and estrogen. Everything normal. I got an ultrasound of my ovaries. Everything normal; ovaries were producing eggs but they just…weren’t doing anything with them. No cysts, no nothing. After a couple of months of tests and appointments, the doctor pretty much said it was because my body fat was too low (I WAS 11% BF at that point, so I’ll give her that…). She basically said “eat more” and left it at that. ‘Yeah thanks, lady.’ I didn’t agree; something was wrong…
My gynecologist recommended I start birth control to “regulate” my hormones and force the period. I refused. My thoughts were and still are… ‘Something is wrong though. I don’t want to just mask it with medicine. I can’t take medicine forever. It’s like sweeping dirt under a rug. I want to find the underlying issue.’ I also had a bad experience with birth control (pre-amenorrhea) and refused to take it again. So I left it at that.
This past October 2013, I decided I really should figure this out… It’d been morethan 2 years. I’d just moved, I’m in a new area, I’ll get a new gynecologist with a new opinion, yeah. She did more extensive tests. Bloodwork. Ultrasound. Same tests. Same results. But she also did a biopsy of my uterus lining because if a uterus goes so long without shedding
(aka a period), the cells can build up and lead to cancer. Nobody wants that… So she did a biopsy, which was THE most excruciating thing I’ve ever experienced… but much neeeded… Cutting the inside of my uterus and stealing a piece of it? Um… D; The results were useful; no cancer! But more importantly, she said my uterus lining was veryy veryyy thin. She could tell when she tried to retrieve a piece. And from the bloodwork, my estrogen was sort of low. So she believed the eggs were forming, but there was no uterus lining to be shed.
The gynecologist said I need to take a progesterone for 10 days to “kickstart” my period. I thought ‘no no no no no medicine’ and I hesitantly asked if I’d always need to take the medicine. She said no, with luck it would just need the 1 round of 10 days. So I tried it; she prescribed Medroxyprogesterone. Aaaandddd…nothing happened. I saw her again and she prescribed a second round of the pills, but I had to take it 2x for 5 days rather than 1x for 10 days. ANDDDD…nothing happened. So I went to see her again… She said her next and final idea was to first give me estrogen to prime my hormones, THEN “kickstart” the period with a progesterone. So she prescribed me 30 days of Premarin (an estrogen pill) and 10 days of Progesterone (a different version of the one I took 2 rounds of aleady). The 10 days of Progesterone were taken on days 20-30 of the Premarin.
I finished my 30 days on Thursday…..and nothing happened. I was telling my boyfriend on Saturday (2 days after) that I must be broken forever… But then, shortly after that at night, it happened. It arrived. :)
I spoke with my doctor. She suggested I continue taking birth control to regulate my period, but like said before, I try to avoid any medication as much as possible. So I will not continue to take it; we will hope my period comes regularly from now on. If not, I will contact her again. I will be updating as things progress.
I know that a lot of girls that are active and into fitness suffer from this. Especially if you are underweight or just very lean, it makes amenorrhea more common. I think the most frustrating aspect about my experience with it was that I lost my period when I was still overweight and only working out 1-3x times a week. Even after I built muscle and healthily added 25 pounds after my lowest weight and 11% BF, I still couldn’t manage to have a period! Frustrating frustrating frustrating. And it made no sense.
But if you’re going through something similar, I strongly encourage you to stay persistent. Even when all your resources seem depleted, keep trying things. I know there are also options available that I never tried, such as acupuncture or some natural treatments from a naturopath. Like I said, not having a period for such a long period of time can be very dangerous; it can cause changes in bone density and potentially be cancer-causing. No bueno. So just keep truckin.
Master vegan baking with this specially outlined online course!