Updated: Mar 1
I often refer people starting to work on period recovery to my blog posts about time to recovery. Some practitioners will tell people “1-2 years” to get periods back and that time frame seems incredibly daunting when you are just getting started. My analysis finds:
a) the length of time you’ve been missing your period makes no difference it in time to get it back
b) the median time to recovery when going “all in” is about 3 months
For someone just getting started, this info really helps with taking those first steps. The time frame for cutting high intensity exercise feels manageable (I always remind people that the eating changes are forever – restriction is bollocks!) That makes it easier to sit down and rest that first day, or the second, or the third. Or in the second week.
But… some people DO take longer to get their periods back. And if you’re someone sitting in that bucket, seeing the “three months” or “five months” can feel like a slap in the face. As can seeing others around you get their periods back in a much shorter time.
Today I’m sharing some more of Jess’s story (previous posts coming... need to be copied from my old site). It took her 20 months of solid work on recovery to have her first period, and she has shared in previous blog posts some of the insights she had over that time that made her surprisingly thankful that it did take so long.
Period recovery is NOT just about a period. It’s about making sustainable changes to your life and the way you think about yourselves and others. Sometimes getting your period back quickly cuts out some of that mental recovery and shift. So do your best to try and see the positives in YOUR journey, as opposed to comparing yourself to anyone else. <3 – Dr. Nicola
Jess – 23-month update
Firstly, hope everyone is doing okay (especially during this mad year)!
Hey to all the brave new people starting this challenging (and incredibly important!) journey!
Just wanted to say: I’ve had my three periods (#2 arriving CD32 and #3 arriving CD33). It is now the 23rd month since I started recovery – so it’s taken a long time to get here, but it has been so incredibly worth it. I was rather shocked at how regular my three first periods were – pretty clockwork, (with quite short LPs I think) but hopefully that’ll increase with time.
I guess even though many women have irregular first cycles, by the time they get to the 2-year mark, they’re more likely to be regular. So perhaps things took longer to get back in place but are more stable now I’m finally here. Who knows. Anyway.
I want to encourage anyone who has been at this for 6+ months and doesn’t see much “improvement” or any “results” (aka your period) yet, to keep going. Some of us just need longer. It took me 20 months to get my first recovery period, and I’m so glad that I stuck with it. You can do it too, even though it’s really hard. Trust you’re doing the right thing.
And again – I want to put the idea out there that it’s maybe preferable, or even lucky (much as it might not feel like it at the time) to have a longer journey to get your period back. It means you have more time to work on the mental aspects that landed you in HA, without the temptation to go back to your previous lifestyle because you’re “already healed.”
Of course, if you are desperate to get pregnant, the dynamic is a little different and I do feel for you. But it is still a valid upside because a healed mindset is something you will have for life, and you will definitely need post-pregnancy!
My life is genuinely unrecognisable now compared to 2 years ago. (Aside, of course, from the fact that we are in lockdown and everyone’s life is different in unexpected ways!)
I am full of energy.
I have a libido, a sense of humor, and an imagination.
I am gaining strength.
I connect with friends and family in a way I’d forgotten was possible.
I can concentrate.
I can dream.
In practical terms – in the last year, especially, I have achieved many things that were on my “to-do list” for the previous decade, but I didn’t have the energy for. In the past year (alongside my job and general life / coping with a pandemic) I have:
Learned a new musical instrument.
Started learning a new language.
Started building a sustainable movement plan, based on enjoyment rather than fear. I am gaining strength in a way that feels very positive and is unconnected to my appearance.
I’ve written a lot: academic essays, a (bad) play, most of a children’s book, and a short film.
And I’ve been on a lot of dates (a new kind of challenge!)
At the 9-month mark, I would’ve said I “couldn’t” do half those things because my body confidence was so low. My body shape and size has basically not changed between then and now, but my mind has had time to catch up. To realign and to realise that life is very short, and this current body is not holding me back. It’s actually allowing me to thrive.
I used to hate it so much when people said “I never thought this would happen for me” or “if I can do it, so can you” – but that really is how I feel, after two years of this journey.
Loads of love xx – Jess
Look for an interview with Jess from November 2021 on the ALLIN podcast.
ALSO! We have a new support group outside of Facebook – members so far are loving it! Please come and join us, http://noperiod.info/support (there is a small monthly fee that is sliding scale – choose what works for your budget).