I have debated this post for a few weeks now because I didn’t want my blunt side to come across the wrong way but then I realized that if this topic and the way I go about addressing it hits you in what feels like an attacking manner, then you probably needed to hear it.
We need to talk about amenorrhea again.
We have discussed amenorrhea many times but it’s time once again to address the seriousness of not getting your period and why you most likely aren’t getting your period even though you are currently scheduling lots of doctors appointments to figure out where it went.
You most likely aren’t getting a regular period because you just aren’t EATING ENOUGH. You think you are but you aren’t.
And deep down? You know this.
Running to every doctor under the sun for every blood test available trying to determine what the heck is wrong isn’t going to spell out what you need to hear: EAT MORE.
You can try to blame your thyroid, pituitary gland, hypothalamus, your mother’s uncle’s sister’s cousin for having a low level of estrogen so it must skip a generation and be your issue too when none of these, 9 times out of 10, are the cause.
What is the cause is your underconsuming of the necessary calories it takes to fuel your body not just for your weekly mileage, not just to keep you moving around from here to there but to keep your organs functioning and hormones in balance.
Your body isn’t stupid.
You think you did a great job by getting through the day (or multiple days) by eating the bare minimum, going to bed hungry, measuring your peanut butter and not going back for more even when you wanted another spoonful or eating just enough at each meal to keep you satisfied.
Your body is wiser and is on to you.
And your body is just that, your body. Saying that you are the right weight for your height according to some chart isn’t always accurate.
Trust me, I know this. I was weighing in at the doctor’s offices at 115 pounds, 118 pounds and even at 120 pounds and not getting my period. I was 5′ 4″ so according to those silly charts, I was fine. I was NOT FINE because I was not at that weight in a healthy way.
It may not happen right away but sooner or later, an alarm goes off inside of you that screams, “Cancel the release of the egg, we do not have enough energy in here to carry a baby.”
But guess what? Even if you aren’t looking to get pregnant, the signal to cancel the baby is much more than that — it’s the signal of stress alerting your organs, muscles, bones and hormones that you are low on fuel thus low on energy which creates complete disarray to your insides.
So what are we looking at as our consequences for not eating enough for our bodies?
In addition to lowering your bone density and the risk of stress fractures (hello Female Athlete Triad) how about a slowed metabolism which means that every morsel of food you ingest is stored more regularly than burned because your body fears it won’t get fed which results eventually in weight gain rather than weight loss.
Happened to me 15 years ago when I dealt with amenorrhea– > suddenly I was gaining weight even though I was eating less. And even worse? As my body returned the normal, it took forever for my metabolism to return to normal!
I had other problems too, all caused by not getting my period.
My blood work showed that my liver enzymes were high BUT I didn’t drink alcohol. Apparently, my liver was eating itself because my body wasn’t getting enough nutrition which played out in blood work results as high liver enzymes.
I had high cholesterol (even though I always had low cholesterol) BUT I ate so low fat that the foods I consumed didn’t contain cholesterol. This happened because I wasn’t eating enough fat/enough calories for my body so it produced cholesterol on its own to make up for it, only it produced the bad kind.
My saliva was weird which made it really hard for me to eat dry cereal/dry foods. Your hormones affect EVERYTHING including your saliva. I would get a really irritated mouth if I ate dry cereal and it would burn pretty bad.
My sugar registered as high. Okay, so yes, I do eat a lot of sugar but this result happened because everything was just out of whack. I swear!
My point here is that your blood work will show all sorts of things while you and the doctors try to determine where your period is when you all you need to do is find some balance between calories in and calories out.
It breaks my heart when I see girls either ignoring this issue completely or racking their brains, running to doctors and trying new diet plans to cure ailments brought on by hormone imbalance, not realizing it’s most likely a direct result of not eating enough.
When you are eating enough, your period is present.
Of course there are conditions aside from not eating enough, aside from the Female Athlete Triad, but most of the time, it’s really this simple.
I do know though that simple isn’t always simple. You are used to what it is you eat, you think you really aren’t depriving yourself and you don’t want to gain weight. I get it.
But we need our cycles to be healthy. If healthy means eating a little more to give our bodies enough energy to do its thing happily, isn’t it worth it?
More posts on Amenorrhea:
Life Without The Scale– My history with amenorrhea and why I gave up the scale
Jeans Can Lie/NEDA Week – Jeans can lie to you, just like the scale
Be sure to check out what everyone else is thinking about today — our Thinking Out Loud host has written lots of deep and meaningful posts on the subject of eating disorders/disordered eating. Click here to read more from Amanda 🙂Amenorrhea Talk #thinkingoutloud #amenorrhea #femaleathletetriad #disorderedeating #balance Click To Tweet
*I am obviously not a doctor or expert in anything other than dessert but I did deal with amenorrhea so I speak from my experience. Disordered eating/eating disorders/female athlete triad is serious. Click here for more info on the topic.
No questions today; tell me something random or feel free to share your thoughts/experience with amenorrhea.