Hypothalamic Amenorrhea | What is it & How did I recover?

Amenorrhea is not just a missing period but a serious hormonal disorder.



Amenorrhea is when a woman missing period for more than 3 months in a row. We know primary amenorrhea which is until a girl gets her first period. The secondary amenorrhea is what we will talk about.


Hypothalamic amenorrhea is more than missing periods.


Amenorrhea has many other symptoms and usually is connected to other health issues such as anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders, high stress and physical activity. It is caused by chronic stress and chronic energy deprivation which creates hormonal imbalances and causes amenorrhea. Therefore, this disorder is well known among female athletes. What really happens is that all conditions develop hormonal imbalances, especially estrogen and progesterone deficiency which will cause a low level of Luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. These two hormones are present when the egg is released from the ovaries to the uterus. But this event does not happen and therefore there is no period.


I went to visit one psychologist who was interested in a woman's health and natural hormonal health without birth control and other treatments. She described this body system from prehistory and the begging of human beings. For example, when a village was attacked, women usually experienced a huge amount of stress, their body stop produces female hormones to avoid pregnancy which woman wouldn't be able to handle. This shift happens in the present only without war or attack on your village. I really love this explanation because it is a great way how to imagine how our amazing bodies work. The high amount of stress = defence of the body.


I personally experienced hypothalamic amenorrhea for 2.5 years. It was the darkest part of my life. As I developed an eating disorder, I was obsessed with food and dieting, I suffer from anxiety, depression, negative body image, social withdrawal, no libido and interest in sex, I was training a lot while avoiding important macronutrients in my diet (carbs, fat), I felt cold all the time, had dry skin and hair. All together packed with loss of period. And cannot forget that I also was after quitting hormonal birth control! So I had no clue how this can affect my body too. I tried literally everything natural - herbs, aromatherapy, meditations, hormonal yoga. As I completely lost myself as a woman I tried to connect back to my inner self through Sacro-cranial therapies and other psychotherapies. Nothing happened. I felt terrible.


After visiting 3 gynaecologists I decided I won't be continuing with them because no one could help me. I even had an argument at my last visit because I disagreed with hormonal treatment. This situation was absolutely unprofessional in my eyes as any of the doctors was really able to even tell me what is going on with me. I know that I had amenorrhea only from my own research. So until I started to educate myself about woman body, hormones, eating disorders, etc. I was thinking that I won't be able to get pregnant. Which was another added stress on my body and mind.



What are the main triggers of hypothalamic amenorrhea?


  • Genetic problems

  • Hypothyroidism Underweight - sudden weight loss

  • Overweight - sudden weight gain

  • Very thin or athletic body

  • Excessive training

  • Poor nutrition & undereating

  • Withdrawal from hormonal birth control

  • Chronic stress & depression

  • PCOS

  • Thyroid gland disorders

  • Some prescription drugs (including antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, allergy medications)


Let's have a look at what symptoms are in case of HYPOTHALAMIC AMENORRHEA & EATING DISORDERS


  • Anxiety & stress

  • Loss of interest in people and socializing

  • Loss of affection and emotions

  • Irritability

  • Brain fog

  • Unexplainable mood swings

  • Feeling dead inside

  • Weight gain or weight loss

  • Constipation

  • Dry skin and hair

  • Food obsession Constant thinking about food

  • Body obsession and negative body image

  • No libido and interest in sex

  • Painful sex

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Changes in the breasts


I wish I knew everything I am writing about right now because doctors usually won't tell you that this disease is hugely connected to your mental health, your diet and your lifestyle. They didn't tell me anything so I started to work on myself from the inside. Therapies, hormonal yoga, meditations helped me to connect my mind, body and soul. I had a massive problem with my self-perception, self-confidence and at that time I was in a toxic relationship and our stepdad left. So I believed that this stress, relationship to myself and my body, event in my life were all connected and affected my life.



I always have been a stand by fitness and a healthy lifestyle. However, I was missing an important point. I developed an eating disorder but I never really admitted it to myself or even to people around me. I am naturally extrovert and it has been always hard for me to talk with people about things that were in my head. One year I decided to move to Spain to leave everything behind and focus on myself. It was an amazing year, but my symptoms didnť allow me to truly enjoy all those amazing days. After I came back home I decided to start my competition prep for the bikini fitness contest. It supported my strict diet, obsessive tracking, fear from eating and most and foremost I was able to train every single day, sometimes twice. So even my coach (she) was amazing, I decided to not compete due to my HA. Quite wise decision finally. But things didn't become better. I was training hard, I ate more but very strictly and still had fear to eat anything out from the plan. But it happened and it was worse and worse. When I moved alone to the UK, my eating disorder went worse. A jar of peanut butter, Ben & Jerry's, pack of bananas was my lunch. I was so ashamed but I couldn't control myself.



How did I recover?


I was thinking about my issues every day but I tried not to. Simply, what happened to me was (and it is a quite funny and cute story). I met my old boyfriend with who I am until today. The most important shift was I completely stopped to be afraid of food. In my country, we say something like 'Love goes through the stomach.' And it was actually true. But my advice is not to find a new boyfriend.😂


Eat and don't be afraid of eating


You should be in a calorie surplus. Eat high nutrient-dense foods, lots of complex carbs, and healthy fats. Forget on any restrictions. Practice mindful eating and create a new relationship with food. Use food as fuel and don't be its victim.


Practice self-love


Start to care about yourself more - physically and mentally. Read books about personal development, meditate, try some dance class, yoga, or pilates to calm yourself and connect with your inner self. Respect yourself, love yourself first and create a positive relationship with yourself and your body.


Physical activity Choose appropriate frequency and variety of different types of activities. Don't push yourself for any cost. Listen to your body and exercise for mental stability more than looking better in the mirror.


Choose natural way


Prescribed hormonal treatment is not the answer as it is the only substitution of hormones that doesn't solve the issue. Go for natural sources. Soy products may help with estrogen levels, Maca is great for balancing female hormones. Other foods for remedy are papaya, pineapple, ginger, flax seeds, cinnamon, aloe vera, oily fish, walnuts, almonds, eggs, herbs and spices such as dill, cayenne pepper, turmeric, wild yam, angelica root, blue cohosh root, clary sage, chamomile, hogwood. Nature is so powerful and food is medicine.



What are other complications?


HA is a really serious disorder and it is really not rare. When I went through this, I really didn't know what to do and where to seek help. Women need to know and talk about the woman's health more. There are more serious problems that amenorrhea can cause.


  • Infertility and problems with pregnancy. If you don't ovulate and don't have menstrual periods, you can't become pregnant. When a hormone imbalance is the cause of amenorrhea, this can also cause miscarriage or other problems with pregnancy.

  • Psychological stress. Not having periods when your peers are having theirs can be stressful, especially for young people who are transitioning into adulthood.

  • Osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. These two problems can be caused by not having enough estrogen. Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bones. Cardiovascular disease includes heart attack and problems with the blood vessels and heart muscle.

  • Pelvic pain. If an anatomical problem is causing amenorrhea, it may also cause pain in the pelvic area.



Conclusion


Amenorrhea is not taboo anymore. I see more women that spread the awareness which is amazing. The most important thing is to stop and really look at your current situation in life. Start to study your mind and emotions then create a positive and healthy environment for your body. It can be stressful but there is always a way to heal (AND WITHOUT HORMONAL TREATMENT).

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