HA: Eat More, Exercise Less, Stress Less

Sharing my experience with hypothalamic amenorrhea and where I’m at with it right now.

Exactly one year ago I wrote about dealing with post-pill amenorrhea. At the time I had been off birth control for about 10 months and hadn’t regained my cycle. I initially thought my body just needed time to get back on track after being on the pill for such a long time, but after some blood work I was diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA).

Girl dressed in all black standing against a red brick wall.

My doctor’s main recommendation was to eat more and exercise less. As a health coach, personal trainer and healthy living blogger this was crazy talk to me. I thought what I was doing for the past 10 years was super healthy so how could my body not be working properly? After being upset (with a WHY ME, I’m not even THAT skinny attitude) for a few days I took his advice to heart, scaled back on exercise, stopped running and started eating whatever I wanted without worrying whether or not it was healthy.  The “eat everything” mindset was fun for a while, until I gained about 7 lbs in two weeks. My clothes became uncomfortably tight and I was unhappy with how I looked and felt.

A few months later a new fitness studio called OrangeTheory opened in Richmond. I decided to try it, LOVED the workouts and started going 3-4 times a week, taking 3-4 days of rest. OTF is a lot of running and high intensity, but I justified it because I was working out less than my old routine of moderate exercise (PureBarre, walking, running or strength training) 6-7 days a week. I was running faster than I had ever run before, I felt stronger and I really enjoyed the community there.

I also started back tracking my food again, working to lose a few of the extra pounds I had put on and feel better about my body. Even with doing OTF and eating cleaner/less, my body wasn’t responding. It was holding on to everything. Definitely a sign that something was off.

Eat More, Exercise Less?

While all of this was going on I found a few online groups with other ladies who have dealt or are currently dealing with HA and everything I read talked about the solution being to exercise less and eat more, just as my doctor had suggested.

Finally I decided that I most likely need to give the whole eat more, exercise less another go if I want to regain my cycle. I haven’t worked out in about 4 weeks. I have attended 3-4 gentle yoga classes, gone on walks (mostly Pokeman hunts) or bike rides with Isaac, but that’s about it. I’ve also given myself the freedom to eat whatever I want while trying to be mindful and intuitive. I naturally crave healthy food so I’m still eating well, but I’m not giving myself any restrictions.

I’m not sure how much weight I’ve gained because I’m not weighing myself, but I know I have gained because all of my shorts are tight, some I can’t wear at all. It’s definitely been hard. Some days are harder than others, especially since it’s summer and bathing suit season. I’ve had moments of tears and moments where I question if this is really the solution. One thing that has really helped is the book Intuitive Eating. I started reading it a few weeks ago and I love all the advice about listening to your body and ending the dieting, deprivation, guilt cycle. It’s been an awesome thing to read while going through this process. I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it.

High Cortisol Levels

I also recently had updated blood work taken and received the results last week. My LH, FSH and TSH have all increased and my Estrogen levels have doubled over the past year. Great news! At this point everything is in the normal range except Free Testosterone, which is low and Cortisol (stress hormone), which is high.

From my research I know that stress, both metabolic and psychological, can affect the HPA axis and reproductive health negatively. This article does a great job explaining it. With this in mind, my main goal right now is to work to decrease stress and therefore decrease my cortisol levels. Cutting out intense exercise will surely help and doing more yoga and light walking should help too. Caffeine can also increase cortisol so as of this week I’ve decided I need to cut back on coffee. As a coffee lover this is going to be a big change for me, but totally doable.

As I shared in my amenorrhea update in November of last year, I had some additional tests done that showed debris in my uterus as well as a bit of uterine lining migrating into the muscle around my uterus. This info is scary and I’m still not sure if these issues are part of the reason my period is missing.

Sorry for the lengthy post. I just wanted to share where I’m at with this journey right now. I know there are a ton of ladies dealing with similar situations and I just want you to know that you’re not alone. HA, and infertility issues in general, aren’t talked about very often and if you don’t have any close friends who’ve gone through something similar, it can feel really isolating. I know I’ve felt that way at times. Here’s to increasing awareness around these issues and healing our bodies!

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    96 comments
  1. Hi Brittany

    I am in recovery from HA after being told I would never have a period again by doctors. The answer really is food and rest. I really recommend the book No Period Now What by Nicola Rinaldi. Recovering from HA can be very very challenging to our sense of what ‘healthy’ is, but it is also an amazing opportunity to truly embrace the healthy, self loving, self nurturing message that so much of the natural health industry purports to promote. Good luck with your journey, if you are struggle I would recommend joining a few of the facebook support groups, they are places of great love and support with women in similar situations.

  2. I am going through the same thing! I was on beyaz for 11 years! I just started accupunture and vitamins so we will see how it goes! How long has it been since you’ve had a period? I am constantly worried so thank you for sharing this post. I felt I was the only one with these issues. All of mt friends didnt have any problems after getting off BC.

  3. Hi and thank you so much for sharing. I am struggling with the same issue, I was diagnosed with last month. I never heard anything about it and many of my friends don’t know about it either. I was on the pill for about 4.5 years and went off in July 2015, I had 5 cycles following that, they were between 32 and 56 days. In January this year I had my last cycle. The weird thing is that I was exercising a lot more last year in the fall, I was also skinnier, but I still had periods, long cycles, but I had it. I had blood work done and my hormones look normal but on the lower end. My ovaries have follicles too. I did the progestin challenge twice and never had a withdrawal bleeding. Initially I thought this is all post pill related, now that I am learning so much about HA I believe it might be my workouts. I used to exercise 5-6 times a week, this included running up to 5 miles 4 times a week and weight exercises 1 or twice a week. (not too heavy, I’m little!) I ate enough though. Always been a food lover and hate being hungry. I love avocado and nuts and have plenty of healthy fats in my diet. i did track my food intake though and tried to stay under 1800 calories. I am 5.1 and weigh 114.6 lbs, BMI of 21.7. I consider myself healthy and not too skinny. this is my second week with no or low impact exercises and walking. It is really difficult as I don’t want to gain weight, I hope that I can just maintain my weight and regain my period through exercise elimination. I wish you good luck on your journey and hope you get it back soon! I’ve lost too much hair, my skin is dry, my skin is dry, my libido is gone, I get depressed, really need those hormones to do some work for me soon :)!

    • Hi Tina,
      same here. I went off the pill in July 2015 and had my period 3 times (October, January and the last one in February). I thought it would be like that (a few months between having a period instead of a few weeks) but in May I got a bit worried and went to see a doctor about it. She first checked my hormones (low estrogen) and had me do the progestin challenge – didn’t work. Got an ultrasound two weeks ago, that acutally got me really worried and that’s when I started to research about it and found this blog entry. I am so happy that I found out that there are more women who go through the same problem and know I am happy to know that you also got your period and it stopped again. I have a similar BMI (taller and heavier 😉 my target calorie intake is more like 1300..) but I don’t work out that much. So I guess I’ll keep doing what I am doing and try not to stress out about the situation and relax more 😉 We’ll see and I guess it just takes time.. Too bad we didn’t know about that before. I never heard about it! They should tell you that before you start talking BC..

  4. wow…thank you for your honestly. I cannot believe how many woman have had this experience. I suffered as well in my early 30s (I am 39 now). I was a vegan for 10 years and exercised excessively. I did numerous rounds of IVF and was able to have two beautiful babies through that process but with years of heartbreak that also included unsuccessful rounds and miscarriages. Fast forward to life with 2 kids and a integrative medical doctor who changed my life and told me that I must eat protein and fat and little sugar due to my insulin resistance and messed up hormones. At the age of 38 I started to have a regular cycle and got pregnant for the third time without trying at all (the biggest shock of my life). I believe that it is 100% related the change in my diet. I was only about 5 pounds more between my second and third babies. Not my ideal weight but definitely not a big deal with perspective.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing! As you said, infertility struggles can be so isolating in a world that appears to be full of very fertile women. My husband and I have been working through what is still “unexplained infertility” for the past 20 months. As some other ladies have mentioned, I too have recently started weekly acupuncture and their practice suggests a pretty strict clean-eating diet. I need to dig out my notes from your 28-day program and revisit your wisdom! (Shout out to casual Pokemon walks)

  6. I haven’t had personal experience with infertility or HA, but I wanted to say that I think it is great you are taking about it! So often we get a diagnosis and search for others who are experiencing the same thing only to come up empty-handed because we don’t create conversations where conversations are warranted. I hope you find healing and adjust to your new “normal”.

  7. This post really hit home for me I saw a naturopath last week who prescribed a 30% fat high protein diet to hopefully change things around. It’s truly a journey

  8. This is such a hard subject that doesn’t get a lot of loving or spotlight time. Thank you for sharing your story and being so willing to put yourself out there. Your vulnerability is beautiful – really.

    I have been dealing with diagnosed PCOS for 6 years now and finally decided to see a naturopath in January (I go to Richmond Natural Medicine and see Dr. Reckers!). With a history of anorexia/bulimia, over exercising, as well as 6 years of untreated PCOS and a lack of ovulation for YEARS, I decided it was time to act and move forward with a plan to correct whatever was wrong. I saw Dr. Reckers and got blood work done to examine my hormone balances. Everything was WACK. I mean, I’m 23 years old and my hormones were that of a woman past menopause. I was horrified and quite a mess for the three weeks leading up to my next appointment with the Dr. I’m not trying to get pregnant now, but that is a deep, strong desire for the future so it was terrifying to think that dream may have died out long ago. I blamed myself because of my eating disorders.

    I brought all this to the naturopath and she responded with such hope and empathy. I started a tincture of dandelion root, damiana, chaste tree, and saw palmetto as well as a thorough vitamin/supplement “therapy.” I also started eating animal protein (I was a vegan) and integrating a more ketogenic diet style. With the higher fat content, I gained between 5-10 pounds. It was needed though. I went through the whole self-image thing again and really struggled loving myself and taking care of my thought life. But the more I spoke kindly to myself and remembered that my body NEEDS the extra few pounds to hold life it became easier.

    The most incredible thing began to happen in my body when I allowed it to go where it wanted and stopped restricting it’s limits. My period came back… and it’s REGULAR for the first time EVER… I have a period every single month… my skin glows… my body looks sexy and feminine… I have boobs for the first time ever… I could go on and on about it!

    I’m still wondering if this means that I am ovulating and able to sustain another life inside of me. But that will work itself out when the time comes. What I am sure of is that I am the healthiest I have been and I look the best I have ever looked in my life (even though I am the “heaviest” i have ever been). Each time I have my period it reminds me why I eat the way I do and why I exercise the way I do (I backed down on the cardio for 6 months and slowly worked my way up to cardio 3-4 times MAX a week with weight training about 2 times a week). My body is singing a hallelujah chorus and other people can see it too. I’ve gotten so many compliments like “Heather, you look SO good – what are you doing?”

    Anyway, all this to say that I encourage you to keep loving your little body and nourishing it. Don’t restrict it and keep it neatly packaged in a box. Let it move and grow and blossom where it naturally wants to go. Give yourself lots of grace and love.

    xo,
    Heather T.

  9. Oh Brittany. I went through/am going through something so similar that I feel so much the same as you! A few years ago, I was in the throes of an eating disorder and during that time was also diagnosed with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Also I had amenorrhea for a year and half + in there somewhere. Obviously, I don’t know what led to what, but while my naturopath was treating my Hashimoto’s and trying to coax my period back with herbs and supplements, I started also working on my body image, banishing self hate and embracing all types of bodies, not just the one type that society sees as acceptable. I am still working on that (it’s a daily practice), but I’ve found my way to a great deal more food freedom along the way. I also gained weight as well (I see now that I needed to, and I’ve actually regained my period since! ????????), which was, and sometimes still is, very triggering to me and sometimes I start to question what I know is right and start believing the lies I’ve been fed from the media my whole life. Part of what has helped me tremendously on the road of recovery and just improving body image generally is podcasts. I don’t know if you listen to podcasts, but I would highly recommend Mind Body Musings with Maddy Moon (also Finding Our Hunger with Kaila Prins is good, and addresses some of the greater sociatal and marketing issues as well, but she does touch on some topics that make me uncomfortable…I am sure there are other people would be fine with it though). Anything by Isabel Foxen Duke is amazing IMO; she has a blog, but not a podcast, though she is frequently interviewed, so if you search for her name in the podcast app, you get a lot of results! Her Stop Fighting Food free video series is one of the top things I’d recommend to anyone! One other blog/video series that has helped me is by Libby Crow…she’s awesome! I know you didn’t ask for all these like body positive suggestions, but I wanted to throw it out there, as these resources are what helped me so much when I was going through a very similar circumstance. ???? Big hugs to you!

    • Hi Hannah! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I love hearing from ladies who are on the other side. It gives me hope! 🙂 And thank you for all the body positive recommendations. I really enjoy podcasts so I’ll definitely check out the ones you mentioned. I already follow Isabel Foxen Duke and love her work!

  10. I hear you, Brittany! I totally hear you. I had HA for almost five years before regaining my period. I went on the pill this year, but I’ve noticed that my period has become very light to absent since then. *sigh* HA is not easy to recover from.

  11. I am in shock reading this, I had NO clue that you and so many others have experienced the same thing I am going through! I stopped BC after 12 years non-stop on it, and it has taken me 8 months to get a period. I am no clue when it will be normal again, but having started weekly acupuncture and started taking the stress levels in my life more seriously, and doing my thing with food and exercise, too. I have recently started meditating and that has made a huge difference. Thanks so much for sharing, it is SO nice to know others out there are experiencing the same thing!

  12. Thank you for sharing this girl. I don’t know much about the subject but I know there are tons of women out there going through this and it’s nice to hear someone with a platform discuss the issue openly. I hope the new routine works for you!

  13. Brittany thank you so much for sharing this! While I haven’t gone to the doctor to take a look at anything, I have to wonder if the weight I put on was due to my hormones and getting off of birth control, plus the stress of moving, not eating enough or too much, etc. It is 100% hard to not fit into pants and shorts that you used to. I am trying to remind myself that I’ve also put on a bit of muscle over the years, but change is hard no matter what way you look at it.
    I am sure things will be looking up for you soon. Thanks again for sharing <3

    • Thanks so much, Ash! I appreciate the thoughtful comment. I agree, body changes are really hard!! I’m trying to keep my head up and working on staying positive. Wishing you the same. <3 <3

  14. Thank you for sharing this and shining a light on a topic that many people struggle with. I struggled with this as well, and boy is it frustrating. You are doing everything right though for your body, and soon mother nature will take course. Sending lots of love girl!

  15. Hey Brittany! I’m working with a nutritionist right now to regulate my hormones because all of my years of restricting carbohydrates put my metabolism and hormones into whack as well. She has the same advice – eat more, exercise less. It’s been a journey and definitely not something that feels “natural” to me because I a) love to exercise and b) tracked my food for so long.

    We will get there! Keep at it! 🙂

    • Wow! I didn’t know you were struggling with hormonal imbalance as well. Thank you so much for sharing and thank you for the kind words. Sending you a hug (because I understand the struggle) and lots positive vibes. We will definitely get there. Just have to be patient, something I’m not very good at.

  16. Thanks for sharing your story. I would greatly appreciate if you would share what kind of sandals you’re wearing; I’m obsessed with them! Sending positive vibes your way : )

  17. Cutting caffeine out of my life would just not happen – Ah ha ha! But ugh, I am sorry you’re going through all of this lady, I am hopeful you’ll be able to figure out antidotes!

  18. Thank you for sharing such a touching and informative post. Please take all of the love and kind words from all of your readers and comments to hear 🙂 Not to be creepy, but I’ve been curious about the status of you and HA since your last post. I am so happy to read good news and healthier stats – congrats! As one who also struggles with keeping a happy, regular cycle, I totally understand all of the confusion, doubt, and struggles. But you are so blessed to have a wonderful and supportive medical team and husband 🙂

  19. girl, yes! i can so relate. All the stress really does a number. It ruined me. Working on stressing less AS WE SPEAK. We are all here to support. Thank you for being so open.

    • Thank you so much, Lindsay. I feel like stress is the root of so many health issues! I’m doing major work to decrease my stress level too. Day 3 of no coffee and I just got home from a yoga class. Woo!

  20. I had HA for about 5 years in my early 20s. For all those losing hope about future pregnancies, I got pregnant immediately with my son and now accidentially with my second, meaning we were going to wait a bit longer. For not having my cycle for so long, it had no effect on my ability to get pregnant and I hope it won’t for all you ladies suffering.

  21. Thank you for your post. Your post wasn’t too long. Are you feeling any better, eating more and yoga? What’s being done about the debris in your uterus? That sounds like it would be painful. I hope you get well soon. What a ordeal you’ve had to go through. I’m sure your information will help others. Hang in there.

    • Thanks so much Debbie. My doctor said the debris might clear out on its own when I have a period so I’m kind of waiting for that to happen before doing anything about it. Fingers crossed it will happen soon!!

  22. I’m so sorry to hear that things are still not 100% yet. I really appreciate your honesty with the situation. Keep up the positive thoughts, Brittany! I’m wishing you the best of luck!

  23. Thank you so much for posting this. I was diagnosed this year, and didn’t even know this was a thing! It’s nice not to feel so alone–I was so happy to read your post, and the comments!

  24. I just read your original post from last year, then this post. I really wish I could go off of hormonal BC but when I do, the issues I dealt with from age 12-17 come right back and they’re so severe that I have given up. It’s been 12 years since I went on the BC at 17 years old and I’m grateful for it but… jeez louise. Reading your post gives me hope that maybe when things settle down for me in my life I can try something different (like seeing an endocrinologist etc) so thank you for that.

    • Thanks for your comment, Kate! If you truly want to go off hormonal birth control I’m pretty sure there are lots of options out there to help with the symptoms and many of them are natural. I hope you find something that works for you. <3 <3

  25. I have gone through almost 7 years of these symptoms, and just 2 months ago regained my cycle (and hope it is here to stay!). Thank you for sharing your journey so bravely! Best wishes to you!

  26. Thank you to all the women who have posted. I am not dealing with HA, but my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for 2.5yrs. It has been truly the worst experience of my life. You are absolutely correct – if you don’t know someone who has dealt with infertility that you can talk to, it is amazingly isolating. I know everyone means well, but I might have to punch the next person that says, “it’ll happen if you just relax” or “if it is meant to be, it’ll happen” or “don’t worry, it’s going to work out”. To top it all off, these statements generally come from people with several kids who had no problem getting pregnant. Unless you have been on the infertility roller coaster, then you can’t fathom how depressing, debilitating, and enraging it can be. Truth of the matter is, none of us know if it will work out, if we will get that family we dreamed up. My fertility doctor said something one time that really stuck with me, He said, “we are going to create a plan and follow through with all of our options. If the end result is not a baby, then no one expects you to be happy. However, what you can hope for is solace and acceptance in knowing that you truly did everything you were capable of doing to make it happen and the rest was out of your control.”

    My husband and I are dealing with male infertility (low counts and mobility), but I am now 37 years old; so, my age is now playing a factor in our infertility as well. I can’t tell you how much time and money we have already put into our efforts. We are now at the end of the road – our one last shot is IVF. And I don’t know about you ladies, but it is difficult to swallow a $20k+ bill without a guaranteed outcome!

    My advise to everyone is find someone who has dealt with infertility and talk their ear off! Tell them about all the times you have felt crushed, or angry, or envious. I promise they have felt the same way. It will help to realize that you aren’t losing your mind and that someone else really does understand how it feels.

    • My comment was based on having dealt with infertility. And yes, stopping the focus on things DID help us. Our plans for our lives is not in our own hands, I truly believe this. We are all entitled to our opinions but I have seen lack of focus on the issue finally work for myself and multiple other couples that faced up to 10 years of infertility issues.

      • Just to add, it took me 4 years to get pregnant with my daughter, and we seem to be having the same struggle yet again.

    • I have never dealt with infertility as I have a son and am pregnant with his sister but I can’t imagine what you are going through. One thing I did suffer through for years was HA though. My period wouldn’t even come back on the pill. My mother was convinced I would never be able to have children. I did cut back on exercise and gained maybe 5 pounds and it finally returned. The one thing that surprised me is that we got pregnant immediately both times and I never even tracked ovulation. I think HA suffers worry about infertility but it’s never too late. I don’t think Brittany will definitely suffer from it if she can gain it back but without a cycle, it will be extremely difficult without “help”

  27. You are not alone!! 1 in 7 women is affected with infertility and I too battled with amenorrhea for years! I was told the same thing as you, I also wasn’t even “that skinny”. I quit running for 6 months and only did yoga, I added fat and carbs into my strict diet, I quit counting calories, I quit weighing myself, I tried just weight training but no intense cardio, eventually added cardio back in because I was going nuts, finally added meat back to my diet and coincidentally got my cycle back one year later!! So all together 5 years of no cycle, tried multiple prescriptions from the infertility specialist including prometrium and chlomid, and am currently back at my “starting weight” from before I began a healthy fitness and weight loss journey over 10 years ago. I look better than when I was at this weight the last time, but it still hangs over my head some days. I try to stay focused on the reason I allowed myself to gain this weight; that all of these frustrating years & melt downs over not being like everyone else (getting Prego right away) will pay off. My estrogen levels are finally normal again, where before they were looking worse than a mans. I actually now have melasma on my face from the increase in hormones that have occurred (this is frustrating since I had perfect skin). I am seeing a dermatologist this week to see what we can do about it. All I can say, is keep your focus on what is important to you and Isaac, pray a lot (lol), don’t let guilt and self judgement control you, and listen to your body. Thanks for your transparency!! I used to feel so alone in this.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m happy to hear that you were able raise your estrogen levels and regain your cycle! I have melasma as well so I can definitely relate. I hope you’re able to get some good treatment options from your dermatologist.

  28. I’ve been following your HA journey for a while and sorry to hear that not much has progressed. It happened to me once when I got off the pill and didn’t have period for a year. I was in the middle of my PhD so my stress level was also high. I was thin but that was normal for me for years. Everyone just told me to eat more and exercise less. I didn’t listen because I needed to exercise to release my stress.
    Finally in 2009 I went to China and met a fantastic chinese medicine doctor. I have met many before and tried to take chinese herbs many times and never worked. But this one has a different approach, more integrative and the place is very calming so I gave it a try. I went there for a month, everyday, went through “treatment” for 2 hrs a day, basically acupuncture and acupressure, combined with some herbs. They were sometimes painful but I was committed. Right before i took flight to come back, I got my period. Then for 2-3 years I went back to China every summer and went to the same doctor. Since then I got regular period and have 2 beautiful daughters now.
    My point is… eating more and move less is not prescription for everyone. You have to trust your body. Also, give a try to chinese medicine if you can find a good doctor. It has a different approach and might work on you too. Email me if you have more questions. Good luck!

    • I totally agree, Coco. Everyone is different and at this point I don’t know that the exercise less, eat more approach will work for me, but it has seemed to help many other women. I am currently working with an acupuncturist but I’d love to learn more about Chinese medicine. That said, right now I can only afford to go to acupuncture twice a month. If I could, I would go every day!

  29. Thank you for sharing your story. It really isn’t talked about enough.

    Five years ago I stopped taking the pill in the midst of my anorexia recovery and discovered that I had lost my period. My husband and I waited for almost 2.5 years to see if it would come back before finally going to a fertility specialist. (Obviously I wasn’t at a healthy weight yet and was still exercising too much at that point!) Six months later, after undergoing IVF, I was pregnant and I now have a beautiful 2 year old boy. I breastfed for 13 months and my period still didn’t return. We decided to use our frozen embryos last fall in the hopes of having another baby. I got pregnant with our very last embryo but unfortunately miscarried around 7 weeks. The silver lining (I guess!?) is that the miscarriage kicked my hormones into gear and I started to cycle. With only the use of Clomid to help time ovulation, I became pregnant again in February. I am now 24 weeks and still cannot believe we did it on our own! I am hopeful that after giving birth this time, I will start to cycle again on my own.

    While I understand your desire to get your period back (because it really is better for your long term health), please know that if you want to start a family there are ways to do so. I was devastated when I realized we were going to have to do IVF, but now when I look at my little boy it doesn’t matter how he got here. Best of luck with everything.

  30. Thanks for your post – this is such a hard thing to deal with but there IS hope! I never regained my period after going off the pill for 3 years. I did all of the wrong things (way too thin, over exercising, food restriction). I did gain a bit of weight, but finally got pregnant using fertility drugs. After having my baby a year ago I’m about 5-7 pounds heavier and get a regular period every month! I still exercise and eat healthy, but my body is at the weight it should have been all along. I can definitely link it to weight as I got the stomach flu one month and dipped back to my pre-baby weight and alas, no period that month. I really think your body has a certain weight threshold, as well as a level of stress and sleep that it likes to maintain. Once that gets out of whack, everything does! There is definitely hope 🙂 Keep us updated!

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Becca. It definitely seems weight related in your case, given the experience you had with the flu. It’s interesting how quickly your body responded. I will definitely keep you all updated.

  31. I’m so glad you wrote this update. I’ve thought about you often since you wrote this post. It took me 6 years to regain my cycle, and it wasn’t about food and exercise. For me, it was the high stress of my 60-80 hour a week consulting job. About six months after I quit my job and slowed down my lifestyle, everything came back to me. That said, I am still very sensitive to stress and have to be careful. I notice my cycle will often stop mid-cycle if I’m under too much stress or not getting enough sleep. Overall, I feel 100% better than I did back then. I really believe that the medical community needs to do a much better job of talking to people about the dangers of stress because it can do devastating things to your body. I was also going to ask you if you had your thyroid tested. I discovered I have Hashimoto’s disease which is intimately related to cortisol and HPA axis.

    • Hi Megan. Thanks so much for sharing. I agree that stress can cause so many issues and illnesses. It’s crazy! I did have my thyroid tested and everything seems normal, but I’m glad you asked because I know it’s all connected.

  32. You are so brave to open up to us, Brittany. As someone who craves exercise I know how hard it can be to force yourself to slow down. I’ve also been an ultrasound tech for the last 10 years and I can’t tell you how many women I’ve scanned for amenorrhea and endometriosis. It’s an epidemic that I think is largely part of our stress driven lifestyles.

    There’s a book you might want to check out called The Woman Code by Alicia Vitti. She’s done a lot of research on women’s hormone cycles and has had some impressive results. I highly recommend it.

    In the meantime, try to stay positive and have faith that everything will work out. Because it will. <3

    • Thanks so much for the support, Sarah. <3 I have been following Alisa Vitti for a while now, but despite having it recommended to me several times I still haven't read it. I need to put it in my amazon cart right now!

  33. Thank you for sharing your journey! It is so true how isolating this can feel. After being diagnosed with PCOS last year and knowing this was the case for a while, I really struggled to find others who understand the frustration of feeling out of balance. You cannot imagine how happy I was to find your site and reading about your experience has helped me to put myself back on the road to recovery.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this, Amber. Honestly I’d rather not put all my period business out on the internet for the world to see, but I’m so glad I have because I know it’s helped others and it’s helped me feel less alone as well. I’m so glad to hear that you’re on a path to recovery. Sending you lots of love and healing vibes. <3

  34. While I did not have 100% of your symptoms/diagnoses, I went through fertility struggles/miscarriage prior to successfully getting pregnant (and giving birth to) my daughter. I know that the less focus that a person puts on these things, the more your body just does it’s thing. Relax- massages/acupuncture/yoga- all work wonders. Also, as hard as it is (believe me I know) focusing too much on these issues makes it worse because you are creating stress for your body. I have known so many folks that stressed for years and years and faced struggles, but then when they put it in God’s hands and just said you know what I am going to live and let things be, it finally happened for them. I am not pushing religion, just saying to trust what is meant to be will be. And enjoy your life in the mean time! Acupuncture and less running (through an ankle sprain actually) happened to work for me.

    • Thanks so much for the kind words and advice! I know that stressing over the issue makes it much much worse so I’ve been trying to let it go and be patient with my body. For the most part this is working, but there are definitely good and bad days. I’ve quit running completely and I’m doing acupuncture so hopefully my body will catch on soon. 🙂

  35. Thinking of you during this time…. Have you tried additional therapies? I had a hard time with my cycle (different situation though, due to endometriosis) and saw Kristina at Essential Acupuncture in Richmond. She took a totally different holistic approach and Jon and I both ended up changing our diets, taking herbs and doing acupuncture based on eastern medicine recommendations. I believe that in combination with some help from doctors helped regulate a lot of craziness that was happening in my uterus and now we are expecting August 3rd.

    Let me know if you want to know more about our experience with acupuncture and Kristina. It wasn’t a quick fix, but I totally chalk changes in my reproductive health up to acupuncture

  36. Thanks for the post – I am going through a similar struggle. I didn’t receive periods for over a year after stopping the pill. I did a few months of fertility treatments until the medications and emotional strain became too much. It’s hard to watch as friends seem to get pregnant with ease while you struggle to regulate your cycle and conceive. I decided to take the summer off from treatment and last week I got my first natural period (not triggered by medicine) in 6+ years. I cut back on running (I used to do marathons and triathlons) and also cut back on caffeine. I’ve put on about 8 lbs and have been taking Chinese herbs and acupuncture. I think it was a combination of these things that helped. Best of luck to you and all the others who are struggling with similar issues – we just need to hang in there!

  37. I know I commented on your Fbook post already, but I wanted to share there in case you didn’t get it. Feel free to reach out to me about this — I went through a very similar thing about three years ago (awful confused emotions and all) and I’d be more than happy to talk to you about how it went and what worked for me! xoxox you can do this:)

  38. Hi! Thank you for your story. I, too had issues from taking the pill for so long. Not amenorrhea, but when I went through a period of intense personal stress, I began to get ill frequently, developed multiple food and drug allergies, had dermatological issues and my hair fell out in clumps for months! My doctor described it as adrenal fatigue that has something to do with how your body can handle stress ( especially due to cortisol issues from being on the pill for the better part of 20 years!)
    I also began a program of clean eating and exercising differently. Not less intense per se, but not as long. As I understand it, cortisol can become out of whack with prolonged exercise, not necessarily intense short hours. In fact, the latter can help. I shoot for short runs, Pilates, yoga, walking and some high intensity intervals only up to 20-25 minutes total. Good luck in your journey! You can read more of mine on my blog as well:
    http://Www.embracingordinary.com

  39. I went through something very similar after struggling to conceive. My doctor told me to do the same: workout less and eat more. It was difficult to hear, and even harder to do. But, with an extra seven pounds I became pregnant and had a healthy, happy baby boy. My weight is between my starting and the plus seven, and I am good with that. When you look at the bigger picture (health!) it makes the tough days a bit more bearable. And intuitive eating plus stress management were integral, and still are, in my life!

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Brynn. And congrats on your healthy happy baby boy!! As I mentioned in the post, I am loving the Intuitive Eating book. I feel like anyone who has ever dieted should read it. 🙂

  40. Thank you for sharing an update! Regarding your Free T levels being low – do you drink lots of soy milk or milk that could have hormones? That was something we had to watch out for with me about a decade ago (and then it swung in the other direction and I had too much T… Blergh). Just know that even though my disorder is different from yours… I can totally sympathize with the overall issue at hand… Xoxo

    • elevated testosterone is often due to improper nourishment after exercise.
      If you want better t levels…carbs/protein/fat after every.single.workout.

    • Thank you Whitney! I only use almond milk and I haven’t read anything about that affecting hormone levels. Sending lots of love your way because I know you’re struggling too! <3

  41. My cycle has come and gone and is still irregular, even when I’m on the pill. I had tests done last year and thankfully everything seems OK, but it is scary to think about what may or may not happen if/when I ever want to try to have a child. Having gained a bit of weight myself by just trying to have a healthier intuitive mindset (and a lot less running) I know how hard that is also. However much we may believe in women not being defined by our size, it is still hard to try on a dress you loved and not be able to pull it down over your hips anymore. Love to you.

    • Totally get where you’re coming from, Sarah. I know you don’t read blogs much anymore so thank you so much for reading my post, sharing your experience and sending love my way. I appreciate it so much. We miss you in VA!! 🙂

  42. Thanks for sharing your experiences and updating us on your journey. I didn’t get a period for almost 2 years after going off of the pill, and it is still irregular and I go through periods of time where I wont get it. I remember feeling exactly as you do with the initial weight gain and feeling uncomfortable, but trust your body and the process and everything balances out. I know it is hard and discouraging, but time is the best gift you can give yourself, and enjoying life, stressing less, and doing things that make YOU feel good! My body is still so so sensitive to stress-I don’t get my period during months where I am more stressed out and am still trying to find a balance that works for me. Its an ever going process. Youre doing a great job. Enjoy the rest of your summer 🙂

    • I had the same experience as Mollie. It took about 4 years TOTAL(!!) for me to regain a ‘normal’ cycle after going off hormonal birth control. Over a year to get a period, then it was completely all over the place for a few years. An endocrinologist once told me that if you had any hormonal imbalances before going on the pill, they often come back even worse after discontinuing it and it can take a very long time to restore hormonal homeostasis. It sounds like everything is turning around for you, though! Sending you speedy, healing vibes! 🙂

      • Thank you so much ladies. I really appreciate you both sharing your experience and for the encouragement. I wish I knew how much of this was directly related to taking hormonal BC and how much was stress, exercise/diet related.

        And Mollie, I totally agree that enjoying life and stressing less is key. Trying to do more of this!! <3

  43. I had high cortisol levels and cut out coffee for a while…you can do it 🙂 Starting the day with a glass of water with lime juice and pink Himalayan rock salt to reset your biorhythm and support your adrenals is something I used as well. I also found acupuncture really helped reduce my stress levels!

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement, Shel! I haven’t had coffee in over a week so I’m doing well so far. I need to try the water with lime juice and sea salt trick. Thank you so much for suggesting it! And yes, I’m doing acupuncture as well.

  44. Thank you for sharing such an honest post. I didn’t have my period for almost 2 years – due to losing a lot of weight, being too thin, and also caused from eating a vegetarian/vegan diet and not much fat. I regained it by going to weekly acupuncture for about 6 months, taking a bunch of supplements, reducing stress (but actually still being able to exercise), and eventually taking 1 dose of progesterone. I know how frustrating it can be, and discouraging to gain weight, especially when your body doesn’t respond. Unfortunately, I think it just takes time and patience.

    • Would you mind sharing which supplements you take? And you were able to exercise? That is reassuring! How much would you say? I know every body is different in that sense!!

    • Thank you so much for the kind comment and for sharing your experience, Danielle. I’ve been doing bi-monthly acupuncture as well and have heard great things from others who have done acupuncture so I’m hoping it will help me! I’m curious, did you do a progesterone pill or cream? I did the progesterone challenge about a year ago without success, but maybe I should try it again? Thank you again for the comment. 🙂

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