In today's post, I'd like to take a closer look at three things that really depend on your hormonal balance: Your bone strength, your weight, and your mood. All important things for your health AND the quality of your life!
The important part of your menstrual cycle is ovulation – releasing an egg from your ovaries, which in a typical healthy cycle happens about two weeks after your period started, and two weeks before you get your next period.
Ovulation is what actually gives you all the health benefits that you're after. And of course, as you know, ovulation is absolutely necessary if you want to get pregnant. You may have a period but if you didn't release an egg two weeks before that (= you didn't ovulate), you can't get pregnant.
Ovulation is the only way to also get the health benefits from the two most important female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. These are the real hormones, made in your body, not the synthetic ones that you get from the Pill if you're taking it. The ones you get from the Pill don't fit to your system exactly the same way as the real hormones do. Read more about the Pill and hormones in this article, and there are many more from this author!
So, what are the health benefits of getting your ovulation and menstruation, and the right balance between estrogen and progesterone?
If you've had hypothalamic amenorrhea for a year or longer, chances are that you've caused some damage for your bones. You need estrogen to strengthen the bones, but women with hypothalamic amenorrhea have usually low esrogen levels.
Years ago when I was running a ton, I had heard that not having a period may cause my bones to weaken, but I ignored it. I would always think: But I run so much, and running strengthens my bones!
You may have heard that strength training strengthens your bones, so you don't worry either. While both cardio and strength training can strengthen your bones, they don't do the work that your own hormones are supposed to be doing. If you run every day for years but have no period, you don't strengthen your bones, but your bones are in fact losing their density because you don't ovulate.
Will getting on the pill help you strengthen your bones? No, it won't. It can prevent them from weakening further as explained in NPNW, but it won't strengthen the bones and it won't undo the loss of bone that may have already happened. You can reverse the loss of bone when you start ovulating again.
Healthy Body Weight
Having well-balanced sex hormones help you to also find the weight that is healthy for you as well as to maintain it.
This point may sound crazy to you, because you know that recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea means, at least in most cases, gaining some weight. It is totally possible that you may be at a totally normal weight and still lose your period, so you may still need to gain weight to recover.
But balancing your hormones can help you find a weight that is healthy for you and that is relatively easy to maintain. Remember, your healthy weight may be totally different from what YOU thought your weight should be.
If you maintained the weight you liked and thought is good for you, through excessive exercise and dieting and lost your period while doing so, then this wasn't your healthy weight. You may have thought that this weight is perfect for you, just because you had a certain number in mind, or because you thought you looked great so this is your ideal weight.
That's exactly like I was years ago. I thought that there's NO WAY I will even weigh over 62 kg/136 lbs, because I look so good right now so this must be the right weight for me. But here I am, over 13 kg/29 lbs heavier now, and I'm finally getting my period and feeling better overall.
Weight loss and fat loss can only be healthy your health improves through them. If you lose your period, this obviously wasn't the case.
You will have to allow your body find its healthy weight! This can happen through recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea and finding the right hormonal balance. You will probably put on some weight, but this new weight will be more natural to you and it will be easier to maintain, without you having to diet extremely or work out two hours every day.
The last thing about your weight is that once you start eating more, you also realize that your metabolism gets faster. Instead of having bowel movements 2x/ week, they may start happening every day. All this means that your metabolism is getting healthier, which also allows you to maintain your weight better.
It's not uncommon at all that women with serious hormonal imbalance experience depression, anxiety and sometimes just sadness that they can't explain.
Of course, once you balance your hormones and get your period back, your mood will still do its ups and downs a bit because your hormonal levels change throughout the cycle. But in general, you will experience much less anxiety and depression.
Both main female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, really determine your mood. The right balance between the two is the key to feeling better not only physically but also mentally and emotionally.
Estrogen is a neurostimulant and it has anti-depressive affects. Estrogen can be “out of balance” in both ways: it could be too high or too low. Too high estrogen levels are associated with high levels of anxiety. Too low estrogen, which is common in women with hypothalamic amenorrhea, can be at least partly the reason why you are depressed. I know I definitely felt depressed often!
There are other symptoms of low estrogen… raise your hand if you can relate with having a foggy mind, headaches that appear out of nowhere, vaginal dryness that make you feel nah about having sex, and don't let me even get started with crappy, crappy sleep that for me, personally, was the most terrible way hypothalamic amenorrhea was destroying my mood.
Low progesterone might be the reason why you get anxious… You need enough of this hormone, because it calms your mind down and helps you relax. And because progesterone makes such a great team with estrogen, it also helps to avoid headaches and helps you to sleep better. As a result, your mood will improve.
Estrogen and progesterone have a little bit different tasks in the body. To put it simply, estrogen keeps you energized and going, while progesterone calms you down. That way, they balance each other perfectly. When they're out of balance, your body will notice and send you signs accordingly.
Balancing your sex hormones is important for many reasons. Not getting your period is one sign that things aren't great.
When you start ovulating and menstruating again, it means that your bones will start getting stronger again. By the way, bone loss that may have happened to you because you didn't have your period for years, IS reversible. Our bodies are quite impressive! And forgiving.
You will also find the weight that is better for you than the one at which you lost your period. Remember, no weight loss can be good for you if it doesn't make your health better.
Your mood will also definitely improve once your hormones are balanced better. Better sleep and the end of unexplained headaches itself make your mood better, but for all these things to happen, you need a proper hormonal balance.
Do you have hypothalamic amenorrhea? Learn how to eat to recover from it.
You can also apply for 1:1 coaching with me!