I get a lot of emails, saying: I want my period back, but I DON'T want to gain weight.
I totally get it because I've been there. I would say that all women who have had hypothalamic amenorrhea but have recovered, have been there. None of us wanted to gain weight. But we wanted to get our healths back! And later we realized that it wasn't as horrible as we thought.
Hypothalamic amenorrhea isn't something to be concerned about only now. You may in fact feel totally fine right now and enjoy your hard workouts and strict diet, and love that you're losing weight. Loss of period might be the only sign that tells you that something isn't right…
Even if you feel okay in general, I still want to encourage you to start your recovery right now instead of putting it off. There's no “better time”, and down the line, you're only making your health worse.
Getting Pregnant May Take Longer Than You Think
Some of us who aren't getting our periods, want to get pregnant, which obviously can not happen when we don't ovulate and have our periods.
You may be super young and not care about it, because baby making is not in your near future plans. However, just like Brittany said in her interview, it's better to fix your health before you want to get pregnant.
Here's why it's so important: Hypothalamic amenorrhea is not something you fix in a minute, or day, or week, or even month. It may take several months…
So you may find yourself at a place in your life when you're ready for a baby. You may have everything planned, but then you may find that things take time…
This happens a lot when women come off the pill after they've been on it for years.
If you aren't even ovulating and menstruating yet, it may take several months before your cycle comes back. Once you get your period, you have just a few days each month when you're fertile. If you don't get pregnant this month, you have to wait until the next few fertile days which means waiting another month. And if you don't get pregnant then either, you may have to wait until your next chance, which is yet another month away…
All I'm trying to say is that recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea and getting pregnant may not happen as smoothly as you may have planned. Which is why you shouldn't wait with your recovery, but start it today.
When it comes to weight gain, I really believe that once you're pregnant and later hold your baby in your arms, you don't give a tiniest bit about some weight you had to put on. That's what moms who have recovered, say, and I totally believe it!
You Lose Bone Strength and Can't Stay Active When You Get Older
For years, while I was having hypothalamic amenorrhea, I didn't know that loss of period is that strongly associated with osteopenia and osteoporosis.
I had heard that hypothalamic amenorrhea may affect bone health but I thought that I work out so much and I have so strong bones from that, so it doesn't matter.
It is true that both strength training and endurance training are good for improving bone density, but if you're not ovulating, you likely still lose bone density.
Women with hypothalamic amenorrhea have generally low estrogen levels. Our bones need estrogen to grow and strengthen. If there's not enough estrogen, our bodies start to break down the bone. Therefore, we lose bone density.
Luckily, there are things you can do to improve your bone health. One of the things is… Getting your ovulation and period back.
Even if you are training a lot, but don't ovulate and get your period, you're still likely causing bone damage.
Realizing this was a huge wake up call for me. Losing bone density means that I may break my bones much easier than I would, had never had this problem! Also recovering from this takes longer.
I want to live an active life as long as I can… If my bones are weak and break easily, my chances to be active and work out when I'm older, are significantly smaller.
That's a good reminder if you're having hard time accepting weight gain. This is important for now but also for your future. You don't want to look back when you're older, and wish you had taken care of your health instead of focusing on keeping your BMI low when you were in your 20's or 30's!
Avoid Cognitive Disease
Estrogen also protects your brain cells. Without enough estrogen, you may experience brain fog, memory problems and even get Alzheimer's and other cognitive disease in the future.
It's known that menopausal women are often brain foggy, have hard time focusing and thinking clearly, and forget things… If you're not menopausal but are in your 20's or 30's and are getting similar symptoms, it might be because your estrogen levels are too low.
If you're not sleeping well, you may have brain fog and poor memory already! Maybe you've noticed it… I certainly did, especially back in the day when I was running a ton, resting minimally, and eating little to no fat. My memory was really bad and I had hard time remembering even things that I had just read or seen ten minutes ago.
If our estrogen levels stay low (like they do when we have HA), then we might do further damage to our brains and have higher chance of developing cognitive disease.
Again, something to think about when weight gain gets difficult. How do I want to live my life when I'm 50+ years old? Yes, being 50 may seem super far right now, but we need to realize that the way we live right now, directly affects our lives later.
If you're still on the fence and don't know if you should start eating more and exercising less and try to get your period, I hope this post gives you some perspective and helps you understand why it's important.
If you've already started your recovery and think that there's absolutely no way you can accept weight gain, think about your future.
I can also promise you that when you do your mindset work and give yourself time, accepting your body at heavier weight becomes easier. One day, you look back and think, why on Earth was I so obsessed with all this? You learn that there are so many other things to prioritize over having a super lean body. One of these things is your healthy future.
If you want to live a safe and healthy life also when you get older, and if you want to be independent and in a good physical and mental shape in the future, it's important to start building better health already today.
Do you have hypothalamic amenorrhea? Learn how to eat for HA recovery!
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