Why You’re Not Getting Your Period + My Personal Story With Amenorrhea

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-3-51-27-pm

What if I told you 1 in 6 couples in Canada struggle with fertility?

What if I told you the majority of my clients have amenorrhea (no period)?

Over the past 2 years as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I have worked with females across the globe in helping them rebalance their hormones and, for most, regain their missing period.

This health issue is very close to my heart. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder for the majority of her teenage years, I have personal experience with amenorrhea and hormonal imbalance. So, when it comes to helping my clients with overcoming this issue, I can personally relate with them.

When it comes to trying to resolve our health issues, any health issue, it is easy to get wrapped up in it all. Much of the time we get caught up in the small details and forget to look at the big picture.

If you research amenorrhea treatment, you will find a wide range of suggestions and recommendations. But, today, I want to break down the cause of your missing period into one simple word:

STRESS.

I know what you’re thinking – can it really be this simple? For a health issue as huge as amenorrhea, can we really say it’s just due to stress? 

Yes, and I am sticking to it because I know. I saw it in my own life, I see it with my clients, and it is a fact. Stress will prevent you from getting a period or having happy, balanced hormones.

Stress doesn’t necessarily mean what you’re thinking – the mental stress from your job, relationship, or amount of laundry you have to do. Yes, that is stress and a stressful relationship could definitely contribute to your missing period (I will share my personal story shortly), but stress is SO MUCH MORE than just that type of stress and we will cover exactly what I mean by stress throughout this post.

My personal story with amenorrhea: As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, for the majority of my teenage years, I struggled with an eating disorder. At age 10, I battled anorexia nervosa and relapsed 5 years later, when I was 15 years old. The years between these two battles with anorexia, I had my first period in sixth grade. It was off and on for many months, but eventually became regular. When I battled anorexia for the second time at age 15, I lost my period almost instantly. Doctor after doctor tried to convince me to go on birth control, but, as a cautious 18 year old girl, I was very hesitant to begin another medication. I was and am a very determined person and I was determined I was going to get my period back on my own terms. So, I turned down many doctors when they tried to prescribe me birth control, but when I was 19, a gynecologist finally broke down my wall and convinced me that I had to go on birth control for my health. So, I did – against my better judgement. Obviously, during this time I would experience a monthly bleed, but didn’t actually have a natural period. I stayed on birth control for a few years, until early 2014, when I began to study holistic nutrition and learn about the detrimental affects birth control was having on my body. I wanted nothing more than for my body to be well and produce a period on its own, so I discontinued birth control immediately. Unfortunately, my period did not return once I discontinued taking the pill. It wasn’t until the summer of 2015 that I had signs of my hormones coming back into balance and experienced my first signs of a menstrual cycle for 10 years! I had some spotting and one day of bleeding in the summer of 2015 after getting out of a toxic relationship, ending my engagement, and meeting a person, my current boyfriend, who truly loves me and treats me the way I should be treated. In fact, the spotting and signs of a menstrual cycle happened the exact month I met my now boyfriend! Unfortunately, after a couple months of consisting spotting and a day of bleeding, everything stopped once again and I was crushed. So many girls think it would be amazing to not get her period monthly, but this is a wrong thought. Our monthly cycle is a sign of true health and when mine returned after 10 years, I began to cry because I was so overjoyed. So, when it disappeared once again, I was truly devastated. After having it disappear, I began to experience some very serious health symptoms, which you can read all about here. I spent the past year digging for an answer and finally in August I received confirmation that I was infected with a parasite (for more on this topic, read this post). The parasite was the stress that caused my hormones to get out of balance once again. So, today, I am still currently working towards hormonal balance and to regain my period.

As you can see from my personal journey, stress can be present in many forms. For me, it was an eating disorder, a toxic relationship, and a parasite with others scattered in between: over exercising, birth control pills, and blood sugar imbalance.

You will not overcome amenorrhea if your body is under stress.

Now, let’s talk about the different types of stress that might be contributing to your missing period:

In my practice, I have helped women across the world get their periods back. Literally, from here in Canada to Australia, I have helped make periods happen and the most common type of stress that I see amongst my patients preventing them from having a regular period is: mental/emotional stress.

1. Mental/emotional stress – I have seen periods come back when a client has committed to eliminating the mental and emotional stress from their lives. Usually, this is the stress due to the amount of mental and emotional energy they devote to their diet and food choices. Obsessing about your diet is a mental and emotional stress that can wreck havoc on your hormones, preventing you from getting a regular period. I have seen this time and time again.

Things to think about: Are you thinking too much about food? Are you (unintentionally) practicing disordered eating behaviours? Or are you like I was? Are you in a toxic relationship that is having a negative impact on your mental and emotional state and wellbeing? All of these things must be addressed.

2. Under eating – This is another common stress I see in my practice. When you do not consume enough calories, your body perceives this as a stress and, as we know, stress = hormonal imbalance, which can = no period. You must be properly fuelling your body. I cannot stress this enough. If you struggle knowing if you’re eating enough, feel free to contact me. I would love to help you.

Things to think about: Are you listening to your hunger cues? Do you eat when you feel hungry? Are you following a diet? Are you counting calories?

3. Over exercising – Just like under eating is a stress, so is over exercising. I love being active and make sure I move my body daily – we were meant to move! But too often I see clients (and even friends!) pushing themselves far more than they should be. I get it, I used to be like this too. Years ago, I wouldn’t let a day go by where I didn’t workout. It caused me too much emotional and mental stress (see #1) if I took a rest day, so I avoided them. Over exercising = imbalanced hormones = irregular/missing periods.

Things to think about: When was your last rest day? How many days per week do you workout? Do you feel like working out as many days as you do? How does exercise make you feel? Why are you working out?

4. Nutrient deficiencies – This one may relate to under eating (see #2) or perhaps you are eating enough in general, but just not enough of the right things. The most important macronutrient when it comes to happy, healthy hormones is fat. As I see in many women, there is a huge fear of fat. This is because there is a misconception around fat. For so many years, I was under the impression that fat would make me fat. Oh, boy, was I ever wrong. Can we just get that straight right now? Fat does not make you fat. We need fat for countless reasons, one of them being HORMONES. Our body will not be able to make hormones if we are consuming a low fat diet.

Things to think about: Are you fearful of fat? Are you following a low fat diet? How much fat do you eat in a day?

There are definitely other nutrients important for health hormones, but fat is #1.

5. Blood sugar imbalance – I didn’t realize the profound stress blood sugar imbalance has on our health until I started extensively studying the adrenal glands this past summer. I knew blood sugar balance was important, sure, but I did not realize how stressful it was on the body when we have blood sugar dysregulation. When our blood sugar is on a rollercoaster ride, our body secretes cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that our body secretes in response to stress. You will not be able to have healthy, happy hormones when your blood sugar levels resemble a rollercoaster.

Things to think about: Do you wake up in the middle of the night? Do you experience anxiety? Do you experience energy lows throughout the day, perhaps mid-afternoon? Do you eat well balanced meals? Or are your meals primarily carbohydrate based?

6. Poor gut health – As you know, this was the case for me. I contracted a parasite around this time last year and that’s when my hormones started to go off balance again. Our gut health is essential for overall health and when we deal with something like a parasite, fungal or bacterial overgrowth, bacterial imbalance, or leaky gut, inflammation results, which impacts the part of our brain that produces our hormones. Function of this part of the brain (the hypothalamus and pituitary) can become depressed, resulting in lowered adrenal and ovarian function, too. Addressing the health state of your gut is crucial for balancing your hormones.

If you are interested in functional diagnostic testing, I offer comprehensive stool analysis tests to my clients around the world. Contact me here for more information.

7. Poor liver/gallbladder health – Our liver is responsible for our body’s natural detox processes. When our liver is impaired or overburdened, it will not be able to detox our bodies properly, resulting in estrogens re-entering our blood (when they were supposed to be cleared from our body via the liver!) Excess estrogen in our bloodstream can lead to estrogen dominance, which is one of the main issues women have when trying to balance their hormones.

Things to think about: Are you doing your part to eliminate unnecessary toxins from your life? Do you purchase organic produce? Do you use natural cleaning products like essential oils? Do you use natural beauty care products such as make-up, shampoo, soaps, etc.? Are you constipated? Are you on birth control? Do you regularly take synthetic medications?

8. Birth control – Just as an overburdened liver can contribute to hormonal imbalance, so can birth control pills due to the synthetic hormones they add to our bodies. They can also wreak havoc on our negative feedback loop system or completely shut it off. The negative feedback loop system refers to that part of the brain I mentioned earlier, the hypothalamus and pituitary, which is responsible for the production and proper balance of our hormones. Additionally, birth control pills deplete our body of key nutrients such as B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium and disrupts our gut flora and, as I touched on before, disrupted gut function has a serious impact on our hormones (see #6)

There are absolutely other forms of stress that can be preventing you from regaining your period of balancing your hormones, but these eight are the ones I see most commonly in my practice. It’s about getting to the root cause of your stress. I’m not about band-aids. I want to help you identify the root cause to your hormonal imbalances, so you can regain your health, happy life! We were all meant to be hormonally imbalanced. The amount of couples experiencing infertility today is not normal. I am here to support you in your health journey. Contact me here if you would like more information on working with me.

4 comments on “Why You’re Not Getting Your Period + My Personal Story With Amenorrhea

  1. Hey Meg! Thanks for such an honest post. I have a few questions though. Are you still not getting your period? Do you worry that your new keto diet might make it worse? There’s a lot of evidence out there that carbs are very important to hormonal health.

    • Hello! Thanks for reading!

      Yes, the parasite infection caused me to lose it again and I haven’t had confirmation that the parasite is gone. I’m running another test in November to see where I’m at with the healing from that.

      I’m actually not keto, I just eat a very high fat/lower carb diet due to the hormonal imbalance I was experiencing. I am familiar with the literature that states carbohydrate is important, but I have also studied hormones very in depth and realize that we are all different. A diet high is fat is also extremely important for hormonal health and a lot of research states that as well. If someone doesn’t do well with carbohydrate (ie. blood sugar imbalances), even though the literature says carbohydrate is important, they will still do much better on a high fat approach.

      We are all unique and need to listen to our bodies 🙂 Over the years I have learnt to trust and listen to mine 🙂 xo

Leave a Reply