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Age and Period Recovery

“I’m 40+ years old – is it too late for me to recover my missing period?” “I’m 37, is it too late?” “I’m 32 and want to get pregnant is it too late?”

My general answer to this question is that if you have hypothalamic amenorrhea, and it’s not something else that’s causing your missing period, it is NEVER too early or too late to get it back. (The earlier the better, from a long term health perspective!)

There was recently a woman in my FB group who got her period back following the NPNW recovery plan who was 48. If you haven’t gone through menopause yet (which you can tell from your FSH and LH levels), and you definitively do not have PCOS, hyperprolactinemia or one of the other non hypothalamic related causes of missing periods, there isn’t much reason you CAN’T get it back.

I have data that can help answer this question from the survey I did for our book, No Period. Now What? It’s important to understand when looking at these data that the vast majority of women who took this survey were looking to get pregnant, so many worked on recovery for an amount of time typically between 3-8 months and if they didn’t get a natural period, moved on to fertility treatments. The recovery rate in this data set was 55% – but the overall period recovery rate in these same women after pregnancy and breastfeeding was 98%. Those who did not get a period during this effort at recovery were almost all able to recover periods at a later time.

First, here are recovery rates during this initial phase by year of birth. This survey was completed in 2012-2013, so the oldest woman, born in 1968, was approximately 44 at the time of the survey, the youngest was 17. I did not collect the year in which periods were recovered, so period recovery could have happened up to 6 years prior.

Percent of women at each birth year with a recovered period (those without a period went on to fertility treatments). Number of respondents per year is in parentheses. Years with fewer than 5 respondents were combined as shown.

I always get annoyed when people only show aggregated data and not individual, so here’s the same information in a different way, showing the number who got a natural period (green) versus not (red, remember, this means they went on to fertility treatments, or possibly recovered their period after the survey was completed not that they never recovered their period!!)

What’s your interpretation of these data? To me it looks like there is not a difference in recovery rate based on how old you are. Recovery rates by birth year bounce between ~40-70% across the years, without any consistent pattern. The person born in 1968 did go on to conceive her children via IVF and commenced cycling after they were born. I’m trying to connect with the person born in 1995 to find out her story 🙂

The next question is, does time to recovery vary by age? I have previously found that time to recovery is NOT correlated with length of time periods have been missing. So now let’s look at year of birth versus recovery time.

Interestingly these data do suggest a somewhat longer time to recovery in those who are older. When I look at the median time to recovery it decreases from 7 months in those born from 1975-1979 to 5 months in those born 1980 or later. This could be because our brains are less malleable, slower to change. It could be that there is more overall stress as one gets older and tends to have more responsibilities. Could be a whole host of reasons. I would also really like to do another larger survey and hone in on this question a bit more, because people did recovery at different times so year of birth is not necessarily an accurate way of presenting these data.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is while it might take slightly longer to recover a missing period / recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea, there is no indication that your current age plays a role in ability to recover.

Hopefully if you’re on the older side, this provides more hope and motivation to keep working toward recovery!



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