Missing period recovery story!

Just about every day there is a new post in one of my facebook groups about someone getting their first post-hypothalamic amenorrhea period, or their positive pregnancy test. It is so inspirational and truly helps those who are still working to recover to stay the course. I wish that everyone struggling with missing periods, thinking about maybe doing something about it but perhaps too scared, afraid of “losing everything they’ve worked so hard for” could read each of these stories and see how much there really is to gain. (We did include a lot of recovery stories in our book/ebook 🙂 ) I’m going to start sharing some here, in hopes that others will be motivated to start or continue their own journey toward true health.

Gemma wrote:

“I have always been a fit and active person ever since I was young. And my weight had never really fluctuated. I went on BCP when I was about 16 years old until I was 28. I came off the pill because my partner and I wanted to try for a baby.

Before making the decision to try for a baby I had a job for about five years that had become very stressful, 10 hour days with minimal rest, and I was commuting to and from work on my bike, which came to about 9 miles a day. Weight-wise I had always been a healthy weight for my height, but from cycling everyday my BMI had gone down a couple points and it had been there ever since. I never questioned it because I was never fussed on my body shape, big or small, but looking back these were all signs that I chose to ignore. Weight loss, stress, and for the amount of activity I was doing I was not eating enough.

I don’t know for sure that this is when I lost my period because I was on BCP but after reading Nicola Rinaldi’s book I think that could have been my significant HA moment.

When I came off the pill I went to the doctors after 3 months because I wasn’t having a period. I was told that it was normal, coming off the pill can take a while for your body to adjust, come back in a year. So, a year later I went back, the doctor tried to put me back on the pill so I could have a ‘period’. I refused, I don’t know why but I knew that my lack of period was a symptom of something and I needed to find the cause.

The past 5 years have been very hard for me, both emotionally and physically, with a lot of medical poking and prodding, blood taking and a lot of mental exhaustion, confusion, anger. The doctors decided that It was just a case of unexplained infertility and the only thing that might help would be IVF.

Strangely enough my next GP appointment is next week, this was going to be my opportunity to discuss fertility treatments.

I really had lost all hope, I just wanted my period back, I struggled with my friends, those who do know about my condition try really hard to understand it but they don’t really get it, and I would be an awful person to expect them to but It is just something that unless it is happening to you it is a very difficult concept to comprehend.

I felt so alone and so lost but then one night, completely by accident i came across Nicola’s book No Period. Now What?. I read the book from cover to cover in about two days, everything in it was so true to me and I just knew that this is what I had. It was such a leap of faith, I never doubted the process for a second but I was scared of It. Scared because this conditions forces you to face your self head on and admit things to yourself that you have maybe been denying. Recovery is giving me such a feeling of freedom, freedom from exercise, freedom from anxiety which was a huge thing when I was doing too much, not eating enough or resting enough.

My husband thought I had gone temporarily crazy when I told him about this adventure I was about to embark on, stopping all the things that I loved like mountain climbing, surfing, cycling and eating 2500-3000 calories a day but he has and continues to support me, he has seen me re-emerge from myself like a flower. I didn’t know how much of a shell of myself I had become but having this condition and finding the tools that I need to rebuild myself has helped me come back to life.

I have gained 17 lbs so far, I started recovery on the 25th November 2016 and every pound is a pound that I am so proud of and so grateful for. At first, it could’ve been 6 weeks, I hardly put on any weight which made me realise just how much damage I had caused to myself. At this point I decided I was literally just going to walk to and from work and anything beyond that, that was un-necessary activity I would just have to stop. So, since January I have been parked on my bum, not even doing yoga but still walking to and from work. Then about 2 weeks ago I injured my neck, all my muscles had seized up and the pain was radiating down my shoulders and back, I literally couldn’t move for a week and I think that was the final kick start my body needed, just complete bed rest.

I in no way think I am recovered, I am still at the very beginning and I fear that this gift I have been given could be taken away from me at any moment but time will tell, regardless of the outcome I am recovering, my body is reacting to rest and nourishment and I never thought my body would ever feel strong enough or trust me enough that it felt it could try to bring another life into this world. I think my body is a miracle.

We are all incredible, we show incredible strength by facing our fears head on and not running from them but I wouldn’t be on the path to recovery if I didn’t have you all supporting me, I hope I give back to you what you give to me.”

<3

Nico

Does Vitex Help Restore Missing Periods?

why would I use vitex, and WHAT IS it?

To determine what supplements women might use to try and restore missing periods, I did a quick survey of women in my “No Period. Now What?” facebook support group. The most common herb/supplement mentioned  was Vitex, taken by over a third of those who responded to my survey (21/53). Vitex is a shortened name for Vitex Agnus Castus also known as Chasteberry.  Most women reported taking “vitex’, but some said “agnus castus” or “chasteberry” – as far as I can tell they are synonyms. It’s a small, bushy plant, with pretty purple flowers and small brown berries.

Vitex-agnus-castus-foliage

RESEARCH METHODS

I did a search of the medical literature using the following queries in pubmed to find research relevant to understanding whether vitex can help restore a missing period.

Vitex fertility
Vitex amenorrhea
Vitex oligomenorrhea
Vitex luteal phase
Vitex follicular phase
Vitex progesterone
Vitex estrogen
Vitex osteoporosis

RESULTS

The searches came up with between 5-25 results, many overlapping between searches. I read through abstracts where available (a few articles were in languages I don’t speak, or had no abstract available) and the full article if the abstract seemed relevant and I wanted to learn more.

My conclusion is that Vitex Agnus Castus does NOT lead to restoration of cycles in someone experiencing hypothalamic amenorrhea (unless that amenorrhea is due to elevated levels of prolactin), and may in fact be hindering the return of a missing period.

Continue reading

Supplements to Recover Missing Periods?

I recently asked in my Facebook support group what supplements women had used while trying to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea / no period as I wanted to look further into the science behind each of them. I was astounded at the range of answers – 53 women used one or more of 65 different supplements!

Can pills help recover missing periods?

By Root66 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How do I restore missing periods?

Unfortunately, many women are prescribed supplements instead of what we all know works – eating more, exercising less (particularly less high intensity exercise), and reducing stress. A common refrain was captured well by one poster:

Ellen: Oooh, I’ve tried so many supplements in hopes of sidestepping real lifestyle change! I’ve dabbled with vitex, maca, soy, estroven, bulletproof diet recipes, acupuncture…while some (acupuncture) really benefited me in other aspects like stress level, none served as proxies for eating bravely and resting bravely- which I am finally giving a go.

It is really important to take heed of what Ellen says – there is no way around making lifestyle changes. If you have no period due to HA, while you might (possibly – success is not guaranteed!) be able to get pregnant using injectable gonadotropins or IVF, those are not going to restore your system to balance or bring back that missing period / cycle. In the words of another wise woman: Continue reading