First off, I have wanted to write this post for forever. I got my period back last September while we were vacationing in Ireland and I was completely shocked and excited. It was the first time I had a full cycle period since before my eating disorder and I was so confused (I hadn’t had my period in over 5 years at this point!) but so happy. I knew I wanted to wait until a few full cycles had passed before I shared any information on the steps I took to get it back..and as the months passed and things were regular and became more apparent that this period wasn’t leaving, I decided to wait until one FULL year to recap.
There had been times where I would thiiiiiink it was coming back (some spotting), and I was afraid that this would just be another time where I wouldn’t end up actually getting it consistently and regularly. Well, now exactly 14 periods and 14 months later, I have been consistent and am ready to share!
I understand that this type of post might not be for everyone, or maybe you think I’m sharing too much about my personal life. I get that, I’m sure my mom is cringing reading this, but can I tell you something? The amount of young women who have reached out to me who also suffer or have suffered from Amenorrhea (or loss of a menstrual cycle) is mind-blowing. Literally so many of us have gone through period loss and so many of us are told to just go back on the pill to get it back. But many of us know that isn’t a long term fix, it’s a bandaid, actually a really faulty bandaid that doesn’t actually fix the problem and could potentially keep causing issues once we get off the pill. However, I’m not a scientist or doctor and am not here to give hard facts, I just have a personal story to share.
So listen, I’m sharing this as MY story, in order to help and inspire. To share what worked for ME so that some of you can reevaluate what you’ve tried, talk to a professional, get inspired to try new things. I’m definitely not a licensed doctor or have any type of medical advice to give out, so please take everything with a grain of salt. You know as well as I do that everyone has a different body, and what has worked for me may not work for you.
Also, there are many other very serious conditions like PCOS or thyroid issues that actually need to be treated by a doctor. I was tested for all of these and did not have them.
I’m here to share my story and to hopefully help some of you whether that’s mentally or physically.
Let’s go back to the beginning. I got my period for the first time when I was 12. I was pretty young but definitely in the middle of my pack of girlfriends. It was never a question of if I was going to get it or not, it showed up every 28 days from age 12 until age 18 and that was just a part of my life. I had cramps pretty regularly and would often take Midol for the first two days, but besides that, everything was normal.
I went on birth control when I was 18 because I was about to be a college girl who didn’t want any mistakes happening when she went away to school and honestly things continued as normal. Some people say that once they go on birth control their hormones go crazy or their periods are much shorter, but that wasn’t the case for me. Everything just stayed the same and I was totally cool with that.
I religiously took my birth control from age 18-20 and there was no physical change with my body, until I starting getting really in my head, losing weight, and developed an eating disorder (more on that here). Now the birth control and the losing weight really didn’t coincide with each other, and I don’t think that BC contributed to my weight loss at all, I just think that the two happened at the same time.
For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with Anorexia and had lost a dramatic amount of weight in a really short period of time, but even with all that happening, nothing changed with my period (hello birth control keeping everything regular + basically faking a period).
With my time spent in treatment and at home recovering from an eating disorder, I didn’t need to be taking my birth control so I stopped for a few months since it wasn’t necessary. I was still getting my period during the time I was taking it so I thought it wouldn’t be any different when I stopped, or so I thought.
When I stopped taking birth control, I totally stopped getting a period all together, which basically signaled to me that the only reason I was getting one in the first place was because the birth control was sending out a false period every month. I was still getting my period during my ED but it had switched over to only being because of the hormones from my birth control, not because I was actually healthy enough to produce one on my own.
However, I knew that not getting a period right after stopping birth control can be normal, so I waited a few months and still nothing ever came.
I was starting to get concerned because I finally put back on a lot of the weight I had lost during my anorexia, I had been in complete rest mode from exercise and hadn’t worked out in over a year, and still nothing was changing. There really wasn’t anything I could do but wait because I still had hope that it would come back naturally.
When I first met Tom, I was still underweight and not completely weight restored but I was a work in progress. I decided to go back on my birth control pill even though I never got my period back naturally, I just wanted to make sure I was taking precautions. Also, to be honest, most of my friends were on some form of birth control at the time and I thought it was just a normal, womanly thing to do.
I took birth control again for another year before I decided that I needed to see if I could get my period naturally since I knew that one day in the future I wanted to have kids and start a family. If this was seriously going to be an ongoing issue, I would need to see a doctor to talk about all of my options.
So at age 23, I stopped taking my birth control once and for all. At this time, my weight was always around the same and it never quite went back to what it was before I had lost all the weight due to my eating disorder. I struggled with body confidence issues during this time as well, and was still fairly particular about what I ate and how much I worked out.
As my recovery progressed and I started eating all of the foods again, I realized there was still a key part to my health success missing, and maybe this is what was holding me back: exercising.
I started focusing on working out only when it felt good for me. I used to push myself to work out at least 6 days a week for an hour and I had to be really sweaty or else it didn’t count. But I realized I was never going to get my period back if I kept putting that much stress on my body.
WHAT I DID TO GET MY PERIOD BACK
During the last year, I have been working out about 5 times a week, with a mixture of strength and cardio. I’ve learned how important it is to lift weights and what started as me using lifting weights as an excuse to ‘still’ workout has turned into me really loving the way lifting has made my body feel. I’m so much stronger and have so much more energy. I’ve been following Madeline’s Moves workouts and have been loving the way they make me feel after.
Overall, when it comes to exercise, I just chilled the eff out. My body was done with doing all high intensity cardio all the time. I was actually doing more harm than good to my body by constantly pushing it to the max limit, so once I was able to let go of some of that and just chill…my body rewarded me. It can be super scary for those who believe that they need to push it to max capacity every day, but it’s just not true.
Some days I show up and just do a strength work out. I barely sweat. But I feel stronger and have noticed awesome changes in my body. But with that all being said, the moment I actually got my period back last September, I was still working out, so I do think it is possible to get it back while exercising, just at a less intense pace.
In addition to letting go of the crazy work outs, I let go of the crazy rigidity in my eating schedule as well.
I knew I needed to start incorporating not only more fat into my diet, but more calories over all. I remember thinking to myself, there is no way I am going to be okay with this and I just won’t do it then. But guess what? Life happened, I began to be more present in the situations around me without even trying, and I naturally ate more.
Especially the last three years, we have had so many different events to attend and there were so many parties, I just started to be the old Erin again and realize there was so much more to life than eating perfectly clean and working out all the time.
I specifically would make sure I was eating fats at every meal, this meant eating peanut butter or other nut butter in my oatmeal for breakfast, adding nuts/seeds/dressings to my lunches, cooking with more oils, cheese with dinner, and I would continue to eat dessert every single night. I didn’t go crazy and dramatically increase my calories but I was increasing every week until I got into a good rhythm.
Adding more fats back into my diet was HUGE and I really think played a major role in my period recovery.
Once again, being told you have to eat more food can be super scary, especially to someone with a history of having an eating disorder, and I really get that. But my bigger concern was that I always wanted to be a mother, so I put that fear aside in order to honor my body and treat it the way it deserves. I really recommend doing this in conjunction with a therapist, or by telling friends/family so that they can help keep you level-headed and accountable.
Reducing my stress was another huge factor in getting my period back. I struggle with sharing this one because I think telling someone to reduce stress is one of the most OVERSHARED statements in the world and its way easier said than done. But here’s what I did to reduce stress:
- Shut down work every night at 7. No matter what. Email can wait until the next day. Right when I shut down work, put on a TV show that I’m currently watching.
- Say yes to more, say no to more. I’ve gotten increasingly better at saying yes to things that bring me joy: drinks with friends on a Friday, meeting my family for breakfast, etc. I’ve also gotten really good at saying no to things that I used to pressure myself to go to because I felt bad. Now I just say that I can’t make it, and that’s that.
- Plan fun weekends, but also plan low key weekends with no plans. I have found that my number one stressor is thinking I have too many plans, and when I have a weekend with nothing on it, I am far more relaxed going into the week.
- Cook nourishing foods that I’ve been wanting to. You know how many saved recipes I have on my Instagram? I’ve been trying to take one day a week to make something totally new to me.
- Relax. Literally like spend 4 hours on the couch watching a movie kinda relax. I do it at least once a week.
The next thing I actively added to my routine was taking a female focused set of vitamins from Binto. Binto is a company that was introduced to me by a friend, and then I started seeing them around the internet. They focus on helping women get access to safe and effective over-the-counter products, alongside access to licensed healthcare professionals all at an attainable price-point. They focus on redefining women’s journeys from period to menopause, with the mission of disrupting the women’s health market by using preventative medicine rather than turning to prescription drugs.
I decided it was worth a try, and probably a good idea for me to be more in sync with what I’m taking, as honestly nothing could hurt at this point! So I went on the website, took the initial survey describing everything that I had concerns about, etc. and then when my results came back (immediately) I ordered the vitamins to be shipped.
I started taking Binto religiously for about 6 months, one packet every single day. My vitamins were a mixture of the below. They form them into one or two pills, so you aren’t taking an individual pill for each of these.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- A prebiotic + probiotic
Binto played a huge role in helping me get my period back and I’m so grateful. I personally reached out to them because I wanted to see if they would give you all a discount code and they said yes! Use ‘erinliveswhole’ for 20% off your first order of vitamins.
Overall, my main theme for getting my period back was just relaxing, being kind to my body, eating more, working out less, hanging with friends more, being social but learning when to say no, and supplementing my body with things that felt good.
My journey with Amenorrhea is hopefully over forever and while this worked for me, I really really recommend seeing a doctor or professional! This is not medical advice, just a peak into what worked for me. Stay dedicated to your recovery and also be patient! I know it can take a while for some, but if you are honoring your body and yourself, I really believe you may be able to get it back.
I’d love to hear more about what you did personally to get your period back or what you’re currently doing!
Leave a comment below!
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