How long it takes to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea varies a lot. I've seen it happen in just three weeks, but for most of us, it takes months. However, you can greatly decrease that time by taking right action – and sticking with it!
Starting hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery is a process that involves many steps.
Step one: First there's the doubt. I may have it… sounds like I do have what this chick is talking about at urbanjane.co 🙂
Step two: You're analyszing your options thoroughly and trying to figure out whether you really have hypothalamic amenorrhea or not.
You may seek assurance from your friends and family, telling them – and yourself – I don't think I work out too much. I'm doing much less than Jen and she's fine. I think I'm also eating enough because my weight is normal. Besides, Jill weighs less and she gets her period. And weighing more just wouldn't feel right for my body, you know?
Step three: After you've spent some time on steps 1 and 2, you'll find yourself still spinning your wheels, so you take the scary step and… actually start making changes in your lifestyle. Changes that are supposed to give you your period back – and that's awesome.
You try this new lifestyle for a while, and you may gain a pound or two. Still nothing, no period! Your clothes are getting tight and you feel uncomfortable, and you have no idea if this is even going to take you anywhere!
Enter Step 4… It doesn't work. I'm off to run and back to low-carb!
Let's talk about the last step today – why it happens and how you can avoid it. The main thing you need to know is this: Recovery may take a lot of time. You're being impatient!
Here are some of the things I've heard women say:
I Ate More, But It Didn't Work
More is relative. You may know that I don't love counting calories, but in some cases, it may be a good idea to check how much you're actually eating. We may still severely overestimate the calories we eat!
It also matters what you eat. Eating more veggies than you used to is not going to make a huge difference, because they don't really up your calories all that much.
If you've been on a low-carb diet, then eating a banana a day isn't probably going to help you. You need more carbs than that, and also plenty of fat. A little bit of olive oil in your salad, if you've used nothing at all before, is a good step, but it's just not enough. You need much more than that.
Lastly, if you really ate the recommended 2500 calories a day for the entire month but then stopped because nothing happened, you just gave up too quickly. Remember, your body needs food to heal your cells and tissues. You need energy to activate your hypothalamus so that it will know that it's safe.
These things rarely happen in just one month.
I Worked Out Less, But My Period Didn't Come Back
That too depends on what your starting point was. If you worked out 5-6 times a week but cut it back to two, then yes, it is less exercise. But what is this exercise? Is it stretching and walking, or is it running and crossfit? These are very different ways to work out.
Running and crossfit are some of the most intense workouts you could do, so if you cut back and do just one or two workouts per week, it may still be too much for your body right now.
Time matters here as well. I know it's hard to stay away from working out, but chances that things happen in just a month or two after you stopped working out, are quite small. You need more time, you'll have to stick with it!
If you have no idea what to do while you can't work out, check out some ideas here: 19 Things To Do When You Can't Work Out.
I Took Supplements, But Nothing Happened
Supplements can play a big role in recovery, but only when you do the two main things:
- Eat a lot and work out less or not at all, and
- Take your supplements regularly.
Magnesium is called the miracle mineral for any period problems, and for me, it was my staple! And still is. I also took Chaste Tree, vitamin D and couple of other things recommended by my chiropractor. But they need to be taken regularly.
You may have heard the saying: What's easy to do, is also not easy to do. Is that you too? You may have bought these supplements, but if you're only taking them every other day or couple of times a week, they can't help you much.
Find a good functional medicine practitioner who can help you to figure out what exactly you need. Don't just jump from one supplement to another, taking magnesium for a month, then Chaste Tree the next month, and vitamin D whenever you remember.
I Meditated, But It Didn't Make Any Difference
I totally get it that scheduling stress reduction practices in your day isn't easy, especially if you are a type A person who's constantly busy and on the go, and when you feel like all the good things are taken away from you…
If that's you, then these are exactly the reasons why you actually really need to take time for reducing stress and working on your mindset and thinking. Deep breathing practices in which you try to focus only on your breath are great. Long walks are great, as long as they aren't uphill walks and as long as you don't walk so fast that you're breaking sweat.
Meditation is something that can be really hard to stick with, but don't give up! Doing it regularly really helps you to look inside you, realize what you need to work on, find some thoughts that you're unable to let go… And release the tension that you've been holding inside of you for maybe years. It calms you down and really makes you happier, but only if you give yourself time and do it often.
It's probably not necessary to meditate every single day if you're new to it and it's hard to do it at first, but try to do it regularly. Start out with three times a week if that's what you can sustain, and keep going – again, it shouldn't be just a one-month project.
We can't expect to be able to reset our hormones quickly if the natural balance is completely gone.
It took time to ruin this balance, so building it up again takes time was well. For example, many of us suffering from hypothalamic amenorrhea have a history of weight loss. I personally lost over 30lbs over the course of five months. After gaining this weight back years later, I lost it again four months later. I was constantly ruining my health, and it did take me five months to come out of it.
Some of you have done a bikini competition. This is something really intense to put your body through… You probably took your body fat percentage down to 10-12 percent, even less. It didn't happen overnight. And your period can't come back overnight either.
Practice all the things – good eating, little bit of movement (no gym, no running etc though!), supplements, and stress reduction – regularly. You may need to give it several months before you start to see and feel changes.
If you need more support, my ebook, programs and FREE 20-minute coaching calls are available for you! I get back to every email, so let me know if I can help.