Dealing With Amenorrhea

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.

 

 


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29 comments

  1. maryellenNo Gravatar says:

    Hey, thanks so much for writing this. I’m actually going through the same thing…been about 8 months or more, I’m not even sure. I also am lean but I’ve been bulking for the past 5 months so I thought it would come back but hasn’t. It’s funny b/c I feel pretty similar to you like – Oh it’s kinda nice to not have it haha..very convenient but worrisome at the same time. I’ll be following you on your results with this and hopefully I can see what I can do. Thank you!!

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      Isn’t it frustrating?! I think that your body will catch up if you are bulking. You know our current, new hair represents our health state 3 months prior? I’d assume other body functions work similarly…so fingers crossed for you period coming soon since you’ve been bulking for a while. If it lasts more than a year, I’d definitely say you neeeed to get it checked out. It couldn’t hurt to see a doctor.

  2. KimNo Gravatar says:

    Thank you for this post! I competed in a figure competition 5 months ago, and although I did it in a very healthy and reasonable way, my hormones have still not recovered. Sometimes you get lost and think you are the only one going through something and that there is something wrong with you. Then as I was starting to get nervous and think I should head to the doctor your blog came up and gave me comfort. I am happy you found something that has worked for you!

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      Yes, most definitely! I never mentioned it much because, well.. it’s not something you talk about openly normally :p So I assume many others go through similar situations, quietly. There’s tons of options and hopefully everything will balance out for you soon :)

  3. DanielleNo Gravatar says:

    Kim, I have been following you now for about 8 months and its been about that long that I have had the exact same problems. This is so comforting to read, especially because my doctor tried the same methods and nothing. Im on a birth control now (month 1- no period STILL). I really believe it has something more to do with being so active but my doctor doesnt seem to believe me or takes any of my thoughts seriously. I started to eat more too in hopes, but nothing.

    I really appreciate you putting this out here for us to read. its so nice to know im not alone. You are such an inspiration and encouragement to me!

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      Exactly! I had that same frustration with the doctors… Just stay adament with them and do the best you can. Ya’ll will work everything out eventually :)

  4. VanessaNo Gravatar says:

    This is so relieving to read! Last year I lost 50 pounds (healthy diet and weights) over 6 months..my birth control prescription somehow expired sooner than thought so when I went to my pharmacy to get my new backkk to start it I couldn’t, a few days later I finally got my new pack and so the. Had to wait to get my period again in order to restart it. Well that was last June(2013) and I still have that new pack..,and still waiting for my period. Makes me think that my bleeding during those months I was losing weight wasn’t even my real period but just caused by my BC. I called my doctor last month and had me do the 10 day pill thing and nothing..so they said to wait another month and..still nothing. The doctors seem to not think its a big deal and that it will eventually come, but they arent the ones that have to deal with this and years without your period is not ok! I feel like I’ll never get it back. I don’t have cramps or even any little hints that its trying to come. It saddens me because I feel like I won’t be fertile in the future. Glad to know that I am not alone in this and thank you so much for sharing your personal story!

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      Oh wow! They seem to keep pushing things off, wow. I know what you mean, it is very scary and that’s why I kept getting more and more worried! The longer it went, the more I worried I’d be infertile forever or something. Try to express your concerns with them and hopefully you can get a medicine that works!

  5. AmyNo Gravatar says:

    It’s nice to hear that someone else is going through this as well. :) thank you for writing this! Even though it’s kind of nice not having a period, it also scares the crap out of me. I once went a solid year without anything. I went to my doctor for tests and what not, aaaand nothing. I was beginning to think I was the only one with this mystery issue. thank you again for making me feel more normal. you rock! Keep your head up, girl! You are not alone! :)

  6. MadiNo Gravatar says:

    Kim, I was extremely intrigued when I saw this post! In October of 2012 I was diagnosed with an eating disorder and had lost my period. I was still having it, because I was on the pill, but it was still so light that I didn’t have to wear anything extra for it. The only reason I was even bleeding at all was because the pill was forcing it. It was nice because every doctors appt I could say “yes, I had my period this month” when really I knew that naturally, I wasn’t. Well I finally stopped taking birth control in June of 2013 and as I expected, nodda. So we waited a few months… nothing. “Okay, if not by the new year, we’ll contact the doctor” my mom said… And still nothing. I’m now waiting for my appt in February with my gyno hoping that we can figure something out! Thank you for posting this, it helped open my eyes and notice I’m not alone!

  7. MadisonNo Gravatar says:

    Hey Kim! Thanks for this post! I haven’t gotten my period now since January 2013 and before that it was irregular (like every 2-4 months). I’m currently in 9th trade, 14 years old. I got it in January of 5th grade, so if I got it regularly it’d be about 4 years now. Everyone tells me I’m so lucky I don’t get it,but it really isn’t fun. I don’t even feel like a girl! They blood tested me and said everything was fine and I really want it back! I experience the symptoms every month, but it doesn’t come. They said I should see they gynecologist and get put on birth control. If I were to go on birth control, even though it’s pretty much forcing my period, it wouldn’t be a “mock” period or anything, right? I’d still be as fertile as if it was coming naturally? Because if not, I don’t want to go on it, as I’m not fond of the idea. Thank you so much.

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      Those were my thoughts exactly too. I want an actual, healthy period, not a forced one, you know? It’s my understanding that even forcing the period through birth control is just as normal as a regular period – it just helps regulates your hormones to cause it to trigger. But to be honest, I’m not 100% certain. You should speak with the gynecologist in detail and be sure you’d be okay with it.

  8. MaggieNo Gravatar says:

    I AM ALSO EXPERIENCING THE SAME THING:'(. And i am only fifteen. I also took the pill, twice and it was the 30 day pill. I’ve lost my period for 1+ year since september 2012. After i finished the pill and waited several days, i got my period but then just like you, i want my menstrual cycle to occur naturally so i stopped taking the pills. They did not come back after that though. Last month when i was on holiday, i visited the doctor again, and she told me to keep taking the pills for consecutive 6 months so my period will go back to it’s regular cycle again.
    I am having my period at the moment and i am very very concerned about what should i do whether taking the medication or should i try to stop taking the pills and wait till next month? because i don’t want to be dependent on the medication of course:( but i already tried twice without taking the pills again after i had my first period. Well, the doctor said by taking the pills regularly, it will help my cycle to go back to normal. But I’m not sure so it would be great to hear your thoughts/advice:)

    Thankyou

  9. KellyNo Gravatar says:

    I too went through the same problem when I started my weightlifting journey. It began last February, and by the summer I had missed all of my cycles. I went to the doctor and she also prescribed the progesterone 2x a day for 5 days. It was a mild success. I had started a few days after finishing the drug, but it was short lived. Then another 4 months go by and still nothing. But then I had what some might call a Christmas miracle. December 25th, it came back. So yeah I know exactly what you are going through as it is almost a month later and I’m still worried that it won’t be back. Thanks so much for posting this, it was very strong and brave of you to do this. I feel so much better knowing that there are others who are also going through similar situations. Keep your head high girl, and hopefully we’ll all figure it out soon enough :)

  10. HeatherNo Gravatar says:

    Great post! I can relate. I lost mine when I upped my training. I saw my doctor and had a bunch of tests done. Everything came back fine. I still worry and I am debating a naturopathic approach called seed cycling. Like you, I am wary to just start taking a bunch of medication/hormones.

  11. GillianNo Gravatar says:

    I’m going through the same thing. I’m 17 years old and its been approximately 1 year since I last got my period “normally”. Over the course of about 2-3 years I lost 70 pounds and now I am maintaining. My doctor also had me take Medroxyprogesterone for one week and nothing happened either! Than I took birth control for one month and got it, but after stopping to see if it would start again on its own, nothing happened after that. I’ve been eating more and working with a nutritionist, but it just sucks sometimes. Like, I feel broken kinda. I also don’t wanna have to force it and have to take medicine in order to get it. :/ But your post gives me hope, so thank you for that!

  12. HannahNo Gravatar says:

    Wow! I had no idea you were going through this! I have been following your blog, Kim, for probably about 6 months now, which is when i started seeking help for an eating disorder. I lost my period too, back in february of 2013. At the time, i had lost only 15 pounds. however, I continued to lose almost 25 more before I got help. It has been 6 months now since i started gaining weight back, and i only gained about 15 pounds back. I am 20 years old in a college dance department so i am still pretty small. I work out in addition to a rigorous dance schedule, and therefore, i am still without a period. It has been really scarring me lately. But your post definitely makes me feel a little bit better. Maybe it will just take some more time. Either way, thank you for sharing! Please let us know how you are doing, i will be anxious to hear if you get it again :)

  13. EmilyNo Gravatar says:

    I’d love to weigh in on this! I was on the pill for 4 years, and decided to take myself off it last March. Around this same time, I was in the middle of losing about 10-15 lbs and becoming leaner thanks to cleaner eating, lifting, circuit training, etc. I got one last period following my last pill pack, and it has not returned since.. probably due to low body fat.

    Fast forward to this past month. I was without a period for almost a year before consulting my doctor. Ultimately she decided to put me back on the pill because she wanted me to get my cycle. Although there may be other factors involved (cold weather, new job, etc.), I have NEVER felt more terrible in my life! I truly feel that the pill has made me an emotional and physical mess. I’m bloated, hungry, frustrated, sad, and desperate to the point where I am obsessing over the few lbs I’ve put on. I will not be going back to the pill next month … feeling this way just to get an artificial “solution” to the problem is not worth it to me.

    Kim, thank you for sharing your story and for being an inspiration as always.

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      I feel the exact same way and couldn’t agree more… I refused to resort to the medicine for the longest time. I view it as you stated – an “artificial solution” because it really doesn’t fix the problem… When I did agree to the medicine last month, it was a wreck as well. The pills I was on made me dizzy and nauseous and I had night terrors every night I took the progesterone for 10 days.

      My doctor asked if I wanted to continue the pills for the next month and I quickly said no thanks, and we’d hope for it to continue naturally. It’s been about 5 weeks and nothing yet. So things aren’t looking too great for now but… to me I’m not sure if the pills are worth it at all either.

  14. LouiseNo Gravatar says:

    I had amenorrhea for 12 1/2 years. My period returned when I was 34 years old. This was after I was told that I should ‘go on the pill’, that I was ‘going through early menopause’ and had ‘hormonal damage’. blahblah. I knew it would come back if I just let my body heal. It took me years to gain weight back so that my body regulated. Now at age 38 I have a regular period for the first time since my late teens. The body is an amazing healing machine if you give it the right natural environment to do so. I ate plant based foods and took no drugs. Enough said. :)

    • KimNo Gravatar says:

      So awesome to hear!! I feel the same way and am hoping that my body figures it out eventually as well. I never got another period after the first came back, but I refuse to take more medicine. Thanks for sharing.

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