Losing bone density is one of the main reasons why a lot of women who have lost their periods, especially the ones who aren’t interested in getting babies, start their recovery. Honestly, losing bone density was my main concern as well.
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If you'd better like to read it, you'll find it below.
The Connection Between Bone Density and Periods
Years ago, when I was really deep into my exercise and low calorie eating obsession, and of course, had no period, I had heard something about possibly losing some bone density if I didn’t get my period. But I didn’t really look into it, because I thought that when doctors don’t know the solution, how would I know? Secondly, I thought that my bones are strong from running anyway… Third, I didn’t really understand what the connection between periods and bone density was.
You may be wondering the same thing: How are they related? To be more precise, it’s not your period per se that has to do with your bone density, it’s your ovulation. If we don’t ovulate, then that means we don’t have enough estrogen in our bodies. If we don’t have enough estrogen, over time, our bones get weaker and weaker.
Here’s how: Our bone cells contain estrogen receptors and therefore need estrogen to grow and strengthen. If there’s enough estrogen in the body, we ovulate regularly and increase our bone formation. Not having enough estrogen, on the other hand, may cause bone breakdown.
Having a good amount of estrogen in our bones is especially important in our 20s and 30s which should be the peak of bone density in women’s life. Unfortunately, that’s also the time when us women have the most disordered eating and over exercising habits… I was no exception and you may not be either.
How Serious Bone Loss Are We Talking About?
It’s quite serious! According to NPNW, women who don’t have their monthly ovulation (and period), may lose about 2.5% of their bone density per year, which is similar to post menopausal women. Post menopausal women can use hormonal therapy to boost their estrogen, and it can give them good results. However, if you aren’t post-menopausal, which you probably aren't, then you should do your best to get your estrogen levels up naturally.
And remember, the birth control pill doesn’t help you. It will only give you a fake “period” that has only caused by a dip in synthetic hormones during the 7 days while you don't take the pill or when you take the sugar pills. This “period” has nothing to do with your own hormones.
There’s a strong correlation between low energy intake and bone loss. The higher the caloric deficit has been over time, the more your bone density has probably decreased. That’s why, if you’ve been restricting your calories and/or over exercised and lost weight, you probably have lost bone density.
Can You Reverse Bone Loss?
You may ask, can you reverse the damage you may have caused to your bones? Because if you can not change anything anymore, you might as well keep working out a lot and eating a diet that is lower in calories than you actually need…
Good news: You can improve your bone density if you get to work quickly!
Your bone density may not get back to where it would have been if you had never lost your period, but you can definitely increase your bone density from where it’s now. You can absolutely gain some bone density back in your twenties and thirties and possibly even forties, so don’t think that it’s too late. If you’re 25 now and haven’t had your period for years, but then get your estrogen levels back up, you resume your ovulation and period and keep them coming back every month, your bone density may be better at the age of 35 than it was at 25!
Doesn't Working Out Help to Strengthen Your Bones?
You may have heard that working out is great for bone health and helps to strengthen them. Yes, that's true, exercise is good for bones. Both, cardio and strength training are great for your bones, and are often recommended for especially older people and those who aren’t physically active.
However, if your estrogen is low because you’re over exercising and under eating and you don’t get your monthly ovulation and menstruation, exercise is not going to help you. You may run every day for 10 years, but if you don’t have a healthy menstrual cycle, your bone density suffers. That way, exercising, if you lose your ovulation and period because of it and your estrogen levels drop very low, causes more harm than good.
What Can You Do to Get Your Estrogen Up and Start Strengthening Your Bones Again
So, if you have lost your period but want it back to start strengthening your bones again, the number one thing to do it is to get your estrogen levels up naturally.
If you work out regularly and a lot, eat very “clean” and maybe even restrict your calorie intake to lose weight, or your BMI is either below the “normal” range or even in the “normal” range, then the reason why your estrogen is low might be exactly that.
Solution: You need to gain weight. Cutting back on exercising and gaining some weight are super important in order to boost your estrogen again. If you're low in estrogen, you probably also experience things like low sex drive, vaginal dryness, sleep issues and even depression, so some weight gain likely helps with these issues.
What You Can Do Right Now
While you’re working on that, there are things you can do to build stronger, healthier bones. Check out this video to see what you can do right now to take better care of your bone health. Remember, losing 2.5% of your bone density per year is no joke, and you don’t want to start breaking bones in your forties and fifties if you can avoid it!
Read more about the importance of estrogen here!
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