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 me, for three 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. I had been to the doctor and even saw a specialist, who 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. I am saving money on tampons, no bloating or PMS, I am on to a winner. After all, my priority to look as good as I could in a bikini, so I carried on with daily gym routines, which lasted minimum an hour, usually more! I ensured I was not over eating, only having bread on special occasions, I feared carbs like the plague, as a result of this, I was lean.
It started to bother me as I approached 3 years without my cycle. I became more aware of overall health. 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. My boyfriend, who during these three years had been living away for work was due home, so I was also thinking longer term, about marriage and kids etc (eeekk). Of course, I knew this was not possible if I was not ovulating, which clearly I wasn’t.
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 categorically put myself in most of those boxes throughout my early 20s if I was really honest with myself. The problem is being honest with yourself about this is hard. It is hard when you scroll through instagram and it is full of girls who are leaner than you, have better abs than you, thigh gaps, and haven’t touched a carbs in months. I was literally brained washed and obsessed with that which made me not focus on my own body or listen to it & what it needed.
....I read more; alarm bells started ringing when I learned 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 everything I had read meant I needed to gain fat & rethink 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 honestly told me, you are over exercising, under eating and definitely not eating enough carbs. 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 commited. From that point I went on a journey, one that involved quitting the gym (extreme I know), eating more, focusing on getting carbs and reducing 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 ever since plus I am less tired, my hair is thicker and I am happier, genuinely. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was the day it came back. I also learnt the importance of balance, not to fear carbs & perspective that fitness is a good thing but taken too fair it is dangerous.
I have written this as I felt pretty alone when I went through this. My friends and family supported me but they didn’t get it, it was a very difficult time for me. Even as 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 (I want kids, I want to be healthy, I don’t want bad bones/cancer when I am older) and I looked this daily.
I have pulled together a few other tips for you 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, don’t wait 3 years like me.
Written by our ambassador Becky <3 xx