One thing many women who have experienced hypothalamic amenorrhea / no periods want to know is … will I get my periods again after I have a baby, and if so, WHEN??
We discuss this in depth in No Period. Now What? and here’s a cool graph that shows when my survey respondents started cycling again in relation to weaning (because breastfeeding increases levels of the hormone prolactin, which suppresses the reproductive system – to different levels in different women).
One of the key factors I found in my research around cycle resumption was an article that suggested a small weight gain was helpful in cycle resumption; this makes sense as it signals the body that energy is plentiful and reproduction is once again “safe” – just as with resuming cycles after hypothalamic amenorrhea in the first place. I was recently listening to the Period Podcast with Kate Clancy and was pleased to hear the expert she interviewed back this hypothesis up. Which turns out makes a lot of sense because it was Dr. Claudia Valeggia, who wrote the article I referenced. 🙂
Anyway, Laurel who is in my facebook support group agreed to share her story, including postpartum cycle resumption – she hoped to continue breastfeeding but wanted to try and get pregnant again.
“I was a heavy teen and young adult. I went on oral contraceptives early to lessen my acne. I lost weight quickly when I was 23 years old and got into running. I never really noticed my cycle until I got married at 28 and went off the pill. I didn’t regain a cycle after 6 months, and started looking for reasons. Everything about HA resonated with me, and I found the support of the Fertile Thoughts board [genesis of No Period. Now What?] around the same time I met with a reproductive endocrinologist. Two rounds of injectables and 20 pounds later, I still didn’t have a period and wasn’t responding well to meds. I was “all in” in name only, but not mentally all in, as I was already resigned to doing IVF. We did one very easy (probably because I had gained weight!) round of IVF in May 2014 and I conceived my son. He was born in February 2015.
If you’re in this situation, or might be in the future, I hope that it helps you to know that 84% of women in my survey resumed natural cycles after pregnancy (in those who wanted to conceive again), and 94% had resumed cycles at the time I performed my survey, after they were done having children. I do need to update those numbers, I do believe that a few years out the final cycle resumption number is higher 🙂
Many of those who resumed cycles had not restored periods prior to pregnancy – but they maintained a weight at which their body was happy, fully fueled any exercise they were participating in, and did resume cycles after having a baby. For those who didn’t, many were anxious to conceive again and didn’t want to wait – hence the higher rate of recovery after families were complete.
Anyway if you’re interested in more data and information on this topic, please do check out our book!