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

Can you ovulate but not get a period?

I have heard in quite a few places now that it is possible to be ovulating regularly but not getting a period, or women think they are ovulating but not getting that monthly bleed.

Women who are experiencing amenorrhea will most likely ovulate before they get their first post-amenorrhea period. (A few get an anovulatory period; bleeding without ovulation beforehand). If one happens to have intercourse around the time of this ovulation, it is absolutely possible to get pregnant, therefore getting pregnant without ever getting a period. And that’s where the idea of ovulation without a period arises.

But, monthly ovulation without getting a period is only feasible under very limited circumstances:

  1. On the Mirena IUD. The hormone doses are low enough that they do not affect the reproductive system in general; locally the hormones prevent buildup of the uterine lining and thus many women on the Mirena IUD will ovulate but not get a period. (Note that the manufacturer states the Mirena should only be used in women who have been pregnant.)
  2. A physical abnormality that prevents bleeding, such as Asherman’s syndrome or a reproductive system defect that does not allow for discharge of the uterine lining.
  3. As stated above, if pregnancy occurs on the first post-amenorrhea ovulation.

Barring that…. The mechanism does not seem plausible.

In a normal menstrual cycle, the egg-containing follicle starts growing at the beginning of the cycle and the uterine lining is thin. As egg/follicle growth and maturation continues, estradiol is secreted. The estradiol leads to an increase in the thickness of the uterine lining. The lining thickens as the dominant follicle is selected and proceeds to maturation. When the egg/follicle is mature, the increased estradiol leads to a sharp peak in luteinizing hormone (LH) that causes ovulation.

I do not believe that it is possible to have this LH surge without sufficient estradiol (and therefore a thick lining to shed).

And while it may be true in a small minority of cases that the lining does not respond to estradiol and get thicker (this IS the case with the Mirena IUD), in a normal menstrual cycle the lining will thicken. My suspicion is that if a woman’s lining did not respond to estradiol by thickening, that would always have been the case and she would never have gotten a period – primary amenorrhea.

After ovulation, progesterone is secreted by the cells that surrounded the now-released egg, maintaining the thickness of the lining and causing other changes that prepare the lining to accept an embryo. If no pregnancy occurs, progesterone drops and the lining is shed.

If progesterone levels are lower than normal, the lining is shed earlier.

What do you think? If you believe you’re ovulating but not getting a period, have you confirmed an increase in LH by ovulation predictor kits, or confirmed ovulation through temperature charting?

If you are getting changes in cervical mucus each month that seem to indicate ovulation, but no bleed, it is possible that your body is trying to ovulate but not quite succeeding.  If that’s the case… Look into whether you might have hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA). (Asherman’s syndrome should also be ruled out.)

Nico