How I Got My Cycle Back, After 2 Years

This is a part 2 from my post 2 weeks ago, How I Lost My Cycle. I had a few folks who asked me to share my story, so here we go!

Once I had the my IUD inserted, I stopped taking my hormonal birth control. I had really hoped it would be that simple to get my cycle back, but when it did not return after a few months of being free from taking the pill every day I began to research the situation. I found a lot of other women with the same story as me:

  • 10+ years of being on hormonal birth control
  • vitamin deficiencies
  • amenorrhea continuing past a year after discontinuing hormonal birth control

 

The following year, my doctor refereed me to a gynecologist who studies hormonal imbalances, where finally the answers came. She noticed my estrogen and progesterone were at their lows simultaneously. Since my insurance was running out and I had just moved, she told me to keep in touch with her and gave me the follow recommendations:

Actually, after a year of amenorrhea I had found a YouTuber/Instagramer, this girl audra, who had the same suggestions. She is a life coach who specializes in helping women get their periods back and keeping it. I recommend checking her out if you are experiencing amenorrhea and do not have access to a good doctor. Amenorrhea is a serious cause for concern. The longer a woman (who is not on hormonal birth control) experiences the absence of her cycle the higher her risk of things like endometrial cancer or bone loss!

I began following Audra’s positive messages to help remind me of the recommendations my doctor gave me. I think the most amazing part was how I felt from the manifesting thoughts about knowing I will get my period back. I did this by meditating in bed with my hands resting on my lower abdomen saying mantras like, “My body is beautiful, I am capable of taking good care of it and my cycle will return when I get to the right place.”

Building myself up like this helped me get into the right mindset and BAM, my period was back! I continue to do most of the recommendations to this day. Working out can be a part of a healthy lifestyle and as long as my period is still coming, I will proceed with doing the activities I enjoy that make me feel good.

A year ago, I thought giving up working out entirely for months at a time was impossible for me because I love being active. It was important to give me body a break and allow for calories to be focused toward healing my hormonal imbalance. It is amazing what we can do when we put our minds and whole hearts into it.

Please feel free to ask me any questions about this! I linked above some of the blog posts that refer to my following doctor’s orders.

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Restricting Vs. Moderation

I spent 2 years of my life obsessing over eating. What a waste of time. Food is meant to be enjoyed and to energize your body, but not rule your life. And too many people out there are restricting their calorie intake to the point of slowing down their metabolism because they want to lose weight or think if they up their calories that they will gain a lot of weight. It is just not worth it.

For the first 2/3 of my life, I did not think about what I was eating or if it were healthy. I just ate what I wanted or what was available when I was hungry. That was normal eating. I was slightly overweight, since there was not a lot of variety in the food available to me when I was younger (because we often ate the same things biweekly) and I did not understand how it was unhealthy. There were things that seemed unappealing that I associated with being healthy, but a salad covered in ranch… not it.

In graduate school I began disordered eating habits due to stress. I did not think I have an eating disorder because I thought that meant having bulimia or anorexia. So I thought I was still just a normal eater. Then I realized my weight just was yoyoing and thought it was because of my reduced physical activity. So I became a runner, which helped me maintain my weight around the overweight mark.

When I lost weight in 2015, I partially did so by restricting my calorie intake for a few months until I dropped down to a weight I was nervous to see on the scale (I do not know why, but seeing a weight below 130 lbs made me feel like I had gone too far). That happened when I was restricting far too much for my activity level at the time. I was walking 3-10 miles a day around the city, I ran every other day, followed by some workout and did yoga the days in between.

Now that I feel like a normal eater again, I am focusing on buying the nutrient dense foods that are around the parameter of the grocery store or provided at the farmer’s market. I see that my digestive issues are better off not causing myself a bunch of stress. I think it is because I am eating a varied diet.

I have heard that gluten is the problem or dairy or meat or soy… First of all, we are being given the media’s interpretation of the researcher’s interpretation of their study results. These researchers are often funded by the competing industry. If you look for theย ย  research papers yourself, you will see that the studies are of a very small group of people or the people have very eating that way before or that it is a correlation and not a definitive result or the results look completely different to you.

I have found that eating all these things in moderation and not restricting myself works great for me. I think choosing to be vegetarian or vegan or paleo are not bad things, but restricting your calories, self-diagnosing a problem, saying an entire food group will give you cancer without understanding the research fully or restricting your mindset to what is healthy is the problem.

Lets look at the areas of the world who do not experience diseases like cancer or dementia, they eat all these things (soy, meat, dairy, gluten, etc.) in moderation by having a varied diet focused on naturally nutrient dense foods. If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, then by all means avoid gluten. But if you are saying that gluten is the devil because it made you constipated after eating it at every meal for a day or week or month or year then maybe cut back. Maybe have it during a meal and then not again the rest of the day. Do not worry, you can have it again another time.

I think we cause more problems eating the same things all the time and not providing our body with the nutrients we might only be getting from a multivitamin. The only reason there are multivitamins is because most people do not eat a varied diet that allows them to get all the nutrients they need. Think of the money we could be saving!!! Vitamins are expensive! Not to mention, if there is research showing that eating too much of a single type of food will cause you health problems and disease. More expenses!

Just a thought I have been having lately. I am off to eat tofu, cheese, bacon and whole wheat bread, but not all at once and not for every meal.

 

How I Lost My Cycle

I received a request to write a post detailing how I lost my period and how I was able to get it back. I am happy to do so and will plan to make this into 2 different post within the next month or so. I appreciate the support from my 2 years with a Copper-IUD, My Experience post and it seems like there is a lot of interest in women’s health. As an adult going through hormonal issues, I have realized women’s health issues were not as well known to me as I thought they were and I am happy to share what I have learned.

First off, a woman who has had a regular period before and goes through 3+ months without one is said to have amenorrhea. Second, the main reason I lost my cycle was from being on birth control pills for a long time (over a decade). If you look through the information packet that comes with the prescription, you will read that it is possible to have loss of cycle due to taking birth control pills.

Back in graduate school, I saw all those mighty appealing commercials about seasonal birth control. With the knowledge I had about periods why would I not want to only have to deal with it 4 times per year. And at first that was how it worked. I only had 4 cycles each year. Additionally, the length of my period decreased by a day and they became very light. At 24 years old, I could not be more thrilled.

Unfortunately, other things started happening that I assumed were linked to relationship issues and diet. My vagina became very dry and my libido disappeared. I also started to wonder at times if I could be pregnant and just not know because the pill would hide that fact. You know sometimes you do not take the pill on time or forget so what if you got pregnant.

As the years went on and I continued to be naive, I did not think that there were any symptoms related to taking the pill. That is until I had a conversation with my cousin regarding the effects hormonal birth control had on her and other family members, which revealed the possibility to me that my vaginal dryness and loss of libido could be connected to the pill. I got me thinking that maybe I should look into other methods of birth control.

Only months later, I had a one day cycle and developed a deficiency in B12 (during a time period I was eating meat regularly throughout the week). The cycle after that never came, which made me scared. My mother had mentioned so many women on her side who experience amenorrhea and found out it was due to cancer. So I made a doctor’s appointment.

Around the same time I had lost a good amount of weight and was feeling proud of that until a doctor my physician was consulting with about my concerns said I hit the lower threshold weight limit for the seasonal birth control and that was what was likely causing me all these issues. While my doctor argued that there is research showing vitamin deficiency linked with hormonal birth control use for longer than 10 years.

I also questioned whether my workouts could be causing this issue and maybe I was at one point doing too much cardio while restricting my calories, but it had been a year since that maybe 1-2 month long endeavor. I had been eating a lot more food since then. Plus, I gained a bit of weight and cut down a lot on cardio. My doctor looked at my routine and felt like what I was doing could not be the reason.

Either way, I was sick of all the testing and wanted off of the hormonal birth control ASAP. So I got an Paragard IUD inserted and I continued experiencing amenorrhea for another year and a half. This begins the second part of the story, how I got my period back. I will write about this in a couple weeks. If you have any questions, please let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

Thought Cleanse

 

I am having a moment of intense contemplation and I just have to write it out. Not all of this is a complete thought… ๐Ÿ˜›

I am a person who is influenced by the people and world around me, especially in day to day decisions like what I am craving to eat. I also have a strong desire to improve myself. I feel these are both good and bad qualities about myself.

At the best times, I gain a lot of inspiration and motivation from my interactions or experiences. I get a lot accomplished in short periods of time and have confidence (a feature I would say I am typically weak in, but try to not show it). I started this blog at a time when I was on a high note or when I felt like life was as perfect as it could be.

My high notes have always correlated with having at least an hour a week devoted to socializing outside of my work environment, 2 hours a week of additional physical activity (meaning outside my walking to and from work or cleaning the house type of movements), great sleep for about 8 hours a night and a variety of tasks available to work on. I thrive on feeling like I am part of a community and having others to work with in person. As I write this I realize how key some of these points are for interviewing, but these thoughts do not have that intention behind them. These things make me feel good, connected and stimulated.

Of course, who the hell has the endless high life or can maintain perfection constantly. I attempt to do my best at scheduling or making time for these essential things for my happiness, but it just does not always work out the way I plan. My minimums are harder to describe, they are moments in life when it is off in some way. Like when I have nothing to do, no where to go or lack of any happening (like work, school, projects, etc.) for weeks to months at a time. Or when I have way too much time to focus on myself.

On a walk I took earlier this week (I feel like when I am walking is when I do my best thinking), the times when I am alone often (living alone, solo work project for several months, lacking social events, always eating unaccompanied, etc.) correspond to these lows in my life. I feel like I can do things unattended (like go to a movie or eat lunch at the bar in a restaurant) and sometimes I feel I need some solo time, but consistently having days with minimal face to face interactions may be the means to my not feeling as though I am myself or “living my best life.”

I started thinking about all of this because a few questions family and friends asked me lately that felt as though they were expressing concern for me. One of them involved my weight gain. While it was not what I consider polite, I do think it is interesting how I thought I felt completely comfortable with myself until someone investigated why I stopped running and “let myself go.” Other questions may have been innocently expressing a worry, but I started to doubt my feelings and thoughts about myself. Which lead me to wonder why my confidence drops so much when questioned by others.

Though I have always felt that going on a walk is therapeutic, I have wanted to find someone to talk to about things like my lack of confidence. I have tried to work on my confidence for years, but feel that I can not achieve the level of confidence I wish I had on my own unless everything in life is great. I know I might be able to use something like BetterHelp, but I want to make sure I am taking the best route. Please let me know if you have any advice!

 

Workout Update

February marked my 3rd consecutive period after having no cycle for 2 years. I have been slowly getting back into working out and thankfully had a 4th cycle in March. I intend to really take it slow because this is an opportunity to build my strength up first instead of focusing so much on endurance as I had in the past. My activities have included:

  • getting out more by giving tours at the museum, going to events around town or joining my partner on campus,
  • walking at least every other day for 20-45 min,
  • doing yoga 6 times a week for 15-30 min,
  • and trying to do two 15 min body weight resistance training sessions per week.

Honestly, the resistance training has been quite tough. I did one 15 min lower body session the Monday following my cycle and was extremely sore for 5 days. Almost a week later, I did a 15 min upper body workout in St. Louis the evening I joined my family at the gym. Since I felt like trying to get in yoga or another workout while I was home would be a bother, I just focused my attention on enjoying my time there instead. Moving in someway came naturally by hanging out with people (mostly in the form of walking and climbing stairs).

It was a great trip and I do not regret my lack of workouts. When I returned I got back into routine within a week, but did not do any strength training until later in the month when I felt up to it. Again I felt very sore after the first lower body workout. Although, my upper body workouts do not leave me feeling stiff and sore, just energized. Fortunately, Friday’s lower body workout left me invigorated and only a little sore Saturday. Yes! I will do more as I feel up to it and my body continues to respond well.

Sincerely, I briefly had those thoughts of, “a year ago I was in a much stronger place with my physical activity,” but I am so happy to be in this place. I feel blessed to have a cycle back, to have a chance to build a healthy mindset and have the opportunity to help out others. For a while there I was deaf to what my body was needed and it feels great be reconnecting.

“Never feel guilty for starting again.” ~ Rupi Kaur