Touching on a subject that seems to have been taboo for a very long time – and still is awkward to talk about. In my opinion, it is important to talk about the female cycle, hormones and problems like amenorrhea which unfortunately seem to be very common amongst women. In first place, it may seem nice to not get your period but amenorrhea can lead to serious long-term health issues like infertility, decrease in bone density and osteoporosis.
Everyone who has watched my latest vlog on YouTube knows that I’m dealing with hormonal problems and amenorrhea. Not getting your period is a serious health problem and I want to dig deeper into science and talk about hypothalamic amenorrhea, its symptoms and causes today.
What is hypothalamic amenorrhea?
When the hypothalamus stops sending “reproduce” signals to the pituitary gland, your body stops menstruating which is therefore called hypothalamic amenorrhea. This leads to a drop in LH, FSH and prolactin hormones. And this on the other hand, results in a decrease of your estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. As you can see, your body does not menstruate if the hypothalamus doesn’t tell him to do so.
- loss of menstrual cycles
- no ovulation
- low libido
- sleeping problems
- cystic acne
- low energy
- feeling cold all the time
- brittle hair and nails
Signs that may indicate or cause amenorrhea
- low body fat percentage
- rapid weight loss
- excessive exercise (exercising every day without a rest day on a very intense level once or even several times a day is definitely too much!)
- low fat diet
- low carb diet
- low calorie diet
Causes of amenorrhea
All the signs I mentioned above which can indicate or cause amenorrhea are signs to your body that it is not safe. In order to prevent a pregnancy in unsafe times our bodies shut down any reproductive functions. The female body is very sensitive to starvation signals. Without an adequate amount of food to support pregnancy, it doesn’t reproduce. Under-eating, significant weight loss, over-exercising, low body fat percentage, eating too little fat or carbs or being under a lot of stress are all signals that put your body into starvation mode and make you lose your cycle.
Talking to my gynecologist and endocrinologist proofed what I’ve read and researched about this topic. Stress, in form of any of the factors I mentioned above, are what causes the female body to go into fight-or-flight mode and shuts down menstruation.
Another thing that can cause amenorrhea is when you take birth control and then get off it.
What can you do about it?
First of all, you have to find the underlying problem and cut it out. Are you exercising too much? Are you eating too little? Are you stressed out all the time? Sometimes it is not only one thing that cause your body to stop menstruating. Oftentimes, it is a combination of a few things. Make sure to do everything to avoid your body sending starvation signals! Relax, eat a lot and be patient. It might take a long time, a few months, a year for your body to recover and feel safe again.
Everyone is different and there is not that one solution to fix your period problems.
I also recommend seeing a specialist and getting your blood and hormones tested as well as making sure there are no other medical issues! Working with a functional practicioner and/or a naturopath can be very beneficial, too.
Also just a little side not here: taking the pill will not help you to get your period back! Period bleeds are withdrawal bleeds and not real menstruations. Just because you are bleeding doesn’t mean that you are ovulating and being fertile. Taking the pill is just a band aid and doesn’t solve the underlying problem.
In the end, the only way to get your period back are probably some lifestyle changes. If you don’t do anything about it, your long-term health is at danger. Your risk for osteoporosis and heart disease increases and you will probably not be able to have child when you decide that you want to have one.
If this topic is something you are interested in, I’d love to write further blog posts about nutrition and amenorrhea, exercise and amenorrhea and what to do to get your period back. Of course, I’ll show you my journey in my GROW & EVOLVE series on YouTube and I’ll write some health updates from time to time.
There are a lot of good resources out there that I can recommend if you want to educate yourself and dig deeper into this subject.
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