I did a little Instastory poll yesterday to see if people would rather hear about how I got my period back (and got pregnant) or how we budget our money (and how it allows me to be a stay-at-home-mom for the time being). Option 2 actually won by a hair, but when I started thinking about what I would write, that seemed like it would be a multiple-post topic, so I decided to hold off on starting that topic until next week. So if that’s what you’re here to read…stay tuned!
Like many other girls and women, I was on birth control for years (I started on it when I was 18). I decided to go off it because I didn’t think it was helping with my acne (why I originally started on it) and I was worried about its negative side effects. This was way before our wedding, and I was not trying to get pregnant at that time. After stopping the pill, I did not get my period for 8 months. Then it didn’t come for 4 months, then 3, then 2…
By this point, we wanted to have a baby…badly…and I was starting to get really worried. I’ve had quite a few people tell me, “even when you start trying, it usually doesn’t happen right away”. Doctors don’t even diagnose you as infertile until you’ve been “trying” to conceive for over a year – this means getting a regular period every month, having intercourse during your fertile window, and not getting pregnant. So what chances did I have if I was only getting my period twice a year (and not knowing when it was going to come)?!
I was undergoing blood tests to test my hormone levels, but testing your sex hormones is more complicated than you might think. The various sex hormones all fluctuate during your cycle, and not only does each individual hormone have its own normal range, but it also has a normal relationship to the other hormones (e.g., 1:2).
At the same time, I also stumbled across the guide PCOS Unlocked in the Paleo community, which talks about overcoming PCOS and hypothalamic amenorrhea. After reading the guide, I quickly realized that my body was too stressed. I was under too much physical and psychological stress to have a normal menstrual cycle. The body has an innate response to stress – think back to caveman times – it does not want you to have a baby during a stressful time because your primary job is staying alive. So, I started making drastic changes to reduce all stressors in my life.
I was under too much physical and psychological stress to have a normal menstrual cycle.
How I Got My Period Back (and Finally Got Pregnant!)
- I gained weight. Specifically, body fat. I already had a normal BMI, but I was on the low side of weight and body fat for a female. I even downloaded the My Fitness Pal app to make sure I ate at least 2,000 calories a day.
- I stopped working out. I had to stop putting my body through stressful workouts. This one was the absolute hardest for me because I used exercise as a form of stress relief and working out always makes me feel better (I actually just love working out). The only exercise I ever did was walking outside – and not at a fast pace, not up an incline, not to “work out”. Just walking to walk. This also helped me gain some weight.
- I ate more carbs. I was already eating a very clean Paleo diet, but I was not getting enough carbs (women’s bodies love and need carbs). I started incorporating more whole, gluten free carbs into every meal. This also helped me gain some weight.
- I got more sleep. I was sleeping maybe 4-5 hours a night, so I started making myself go to bed earlier. I would be in bed by 9pm each night, regardless of how long it took me to fall asleep. Not scrolling on my phone, not reading, just laying in bed trying to fall asleep.
- I reduced work stress. This one is hard but necessary, you guys. Cut back on your hours, delete your work email from your phone, learn how to deal with the stress better…do what it takes.
- I stopped traveling. I had been flying across the country on a weekly basis for work, and living in a hotel on a weekly basis was more stress for my body to deal with. I was getting poor sleep in the hotel, not eating any home-cooked meals (mostly the Whole Foods salad bar), and working 65 hours a week.
- I started meditating. I downloaded some of Gabby Bernstein’s free meditations on my phone and listened to those while I walked at work (I took short 10-15 min walking breaks between meetings). EFT (aka tapping) is also a great alternative to meditation. The mind is very powerful and you need to learn how to harness it to calm yourself down and relieve stress.
- I started using ovulation predictor kits (OPKs). This helped me know if/when I was ovulating since my cycle was so irregular in the beginning. Really try not to get upset if you go days, weeks, months without ovulating. I was able to get my cycle back on track and so can you!
After making these changes, it still took about 6 months for my cycle to regulate (normal is considered 21-35 days in length). After this, we were able to get pregnant within 2 months! It was a long road but I learned a lot about my body.
My biggest advice would be:
- Find a doctor you trust – someone who also specializes in Reproductive Endocrinology will be important if you or your partner have infertility issues.
- Reduce physical and psychological stressors as much as possible – you’ll need to learn how to handle stress better once you have a baby anyways!
- Have realistic expectations – our bodies are miraculous but need time to adjust to any changes, whether that be coming off medication, changing exercises, or adapting to stress.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to comment below or email me. I understand how hard it can be to want to get pregnant sooo badly and not have it happen (and to watch your friends get pregnant without even trying). I’m here if you need me!