Updated: Sep 11
I asked in my support group what supplements women had used while trying to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea / no period / Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (REDS) as I wanted to look further into the science behind each of them. I was astounded at the range of answers – 53 people used one or more of 65 different supplements!
Unfortunately, many are prescribed supplements instead of what we all know works – eating more, exercising less (particularly less high intensity exercise), and reducing stress. A common refrain was captured well by one poster:
Ellen: Oooh, I’ve tried so many supplements in hopes of sidestepping real lifestyle change! I’ve dabbled with vitex, maca, soy, estrogen, bulletproof diet recipes, acupuncture…while some (acupuncture) really benefited me in other spects like stress level, none served as proxies for eating bravely and resting bravely- which I am finally giving a go.
It is really important to take heed of what Ellen says – there is no way around making lifestyle changes, which you can learn more about in No Period. Now What?. If you have no period due to HA, while you might (possibly – success is not guaranteed!) be able to get pregnant using injectable gonadotropins or IVF, those are not going to restore your system to balance or bring back that missing period / cycle. In the words of another wise woman:
Ali: Ashwagandha definitely helped with my energy levels while trying to fully recover…but I’m still a huge fan of going 100% all-in with food and exercise 🙂 I also tried maca and vitex with no luck whatsoever…but that was when I was half-assing it back in the day.
The Science Behind the Supplements
Over the next few weeks I am going to delve into the science that supports each of these supplements, looking at what they have been proven to do, what they might do, and what are unicorn dreams.
First, here’s the list of all the supplements – ordered by number of folks taking them (in parentheses), then alphabetically. As I research each supplement I will add links in the list.
Magnesium, Zinc (8),
Acetyl-L-carnitine, fish oil (7),
Ashwagandha, Vitamin D (6),
evening primrose, Soy isoflavones (5),
Iron, Omega 3 (4),
B12, Don quai (3),
B complex, B6, Chasteberry (same as vitex), cod liver oil, inositol, Multivitamin, probiotics, Progessence plus essential oil, Red raspberry leaf, royal jelly, Shavatari, Tribulus, Vitamin C (2),
5-htp, adaptogens, adrenal supplement, Calcium, chinese herbs, colloidal minerals, CoQ10, Dandelion, dessicated liver, DHEA, estrogen, Fairhaven health FertileCM, Floradix liquid iron and vitamin supplement, folate, Free Wanderer, Herbal tea with chlorphyll, iodine, kefir, L-theanine, Licorice root, Melatonin, Moxa tea, natural dessicated thyroid, ovatrophin, Rhodiola, Selenium, Soy, spirulina, symplex F, Tulsi (Ginseng), turmeric, Unicorn’s Pearl, Vitamin K2, White Peony, Wild Yam, Women’s Chamber (1),
black cohosh, estrosense, FertilityBlend (recommended but not taken).
Clearly some of these are minerals rather than “supplements” – but I will check out the most common and report back as to their utility in regaining missing periods, and other ways they might support health as you work to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea / no period / REDS.
Birth control pills and missing periods…
While birth control pills aren’t a “supplement,” they are often prescribed to those with HA sometimes even with the idea that they will help with missing period recovery, so I wanted to mention them in this post. It is important to note that you will most likely bleed on birth control pills, but they do NOTHING to get your natural system working again, in fact, they suppress your natural hormones. So please don’t take birth control pills in hopes of “jumpstarting” your cycles because there is just no mechanism by which that works. Same with hormone replacement therapy. While both can potentially have a place in supporting your system while you work toward natural cycles, neither will jumpstart them.
Does Vitex help with no periods?
My first post in this series was on Vitex – short answer is no, it probably does not help with missing periods (and may even be detrimental). And click on the links in the bulleted list above for info on other supplements, links added as I publish the posts.
P.S. You can work with me to figure out YOUR personal recovery plan and the supplements best suited for you.