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Second cycles

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

It feels so awesome the first time you see blood after experiencing hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) / missing periods. It feels like such a validation of all the changes you’ve made, all the hard work you’ve put in both physically and mentally.

And then you get excited to ovulate and get that *second* period which in a way is even more magical than the first because it shows that your hormones are cycling as they should. This can be more of a waiting game than you might first suspect though. We tend to anticipate our next ovulation will happen “normally” – that is, around cycle day 14 (see p. 45 of No Period. Now What? (NPNW) for a description of what happens in a typical menstrual cycle). It’s actually rather uncommon for your second ovulation to happen that quickly.

Here are the data I have from the survey included in NPNW:

  • 23% of recovered HAers ovulated by cycle day 14 in their next cycle (13/56).

  • Another 30% ovulated by CD21 (note that if you have a short luteal phase, it is quite common for your next ovulation to be “late” – more info here) (17/56) – so a total of 55% ovulated prior to cycle day 21.

  • Another 4 women ovulated by CD28 (7%) and 5 more by CD35 (9%) – so a total of 70% ovulating by cycle day 35. If your luteal phase is normal this means you would be looking at a total cycle length of up to 50 days.

  • 10 more ovulated by CD60 (18%), and 6 more (11%) by CD90.

  • That leaves one woman, who ovulated on CD130.

Here’s another way of looking at the data, in case you prefer seeing the individual days of ovulation instead of the aggregated data:

I hope it helps to have a sense of where you might fall in the range. The median day of ovulation was 20.5, with the average day of ovulation just over 32 days. So I would suggest that as your expectation – ovulating around CD30 on your second cycle. If you ovulate sooner, BONUS! If you don’t – you’re not waiting the additional two weeks full of angst and anxiety.

A few more things I want to point out:

First, I really cannot stress how important it is to maintain what you’ve been doing for recovery after you get your first period. I have seen too many women get that first period, think “HEY I’m recovered,” and cut back on food intake or start running again…. and their second ovulation/period is MIA.

Second… I really encourage you not to stress and worry about when this second ovulation/period is going to arrive. Trust your body. Trust the recovery process and recommendations (explained in detail in NPNW).

Finally – learn your body’s signs of ovulation. It is SO helpful to know when you ovulate. It helps markedly with getting pregnant (or avoiding pregnancy!) and it’s also just a good marker of the health of your cycle. If you’re ovulating late with a short luteal phase (LP, time between ovulation and period) that may be a sign that your body is still under fueled or experiencing exercise stress.

I also want to point out, as we discuss in NPNW, that there is no downside to getting pregnant on a “later than normal” ovulation. The pregnancy rates are no different (NPNW p.303). And the miscarriage rate is almost identical to the rate experienced by women who ovulate in a normal timeframe, which means there is no “problem with your egg” or anything like that if you are ovulating later than CD14. (p.365).

If you have had more than one recovery cycle, when did you ovulate / get your second period? Had you changed anything from when you were working on recovery?

If you found this post helpful and would like to support similar work going forward, check out my patreon page (with additional posts available for supporters only). Thanks!



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