Hibernation of Your Periods, aka Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA)

Hypothalamic amenorrhea is a condition that affects many women, characterized by the absence of menstrual periods due to disruptions in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the control center of your brain. It controls many functions including reproduction.

HA is your brain telling your ovaries to slow down and reduce the production of sex hormones and ovulation. It’s your brain saying ‘there’s too much going on right now, too much stress, I can’t get pregnant’, so fertility as the end goal or not, your hormones and ovulation turn off.

This condition often results from stress, excessive exercise, or insufficient calorie intake, leading to hormonal imbalances that impact the menstrual cycle.

Most people know about HA and how it impacts your periods and fertility, but what’s not often spoken about is the impact of no menstrual cycle on your bone health, digestion, sleep, moods, energy, and cardiovascular system.

While there is no one-size-fits-all-all advice for HA, the foundations are the same.

My top tips for recovering your periods:

1. Eat enough food.

If your period is missing, you are very likely not eating enough. This means you will need to eat around 2500 calories minimum per day to regain your cycles. This number comes from research and clinical experience. This would likely look like 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day. Ensure you are eating every 3-4 hours, so you are not going too long without food.

2. Let carbohydrates be your friend.

Eating too little carbohydrates is often one of the reasons I see my client’s periods disappear. I can vouch for this one myself. I recommend having at least one to two servings of starchy carbohydrates a day. These include brown rice, potatoes, wholegrain or legume-based pasta, good quality sourdough, rice noodles and quinoa.

3. Cook and eat with fats!

Fats are what you need to make hormones. I suggest you cook and eat these with every meal. This may look like in a pasta dish: cooking your vegetables/meat with oil and then adding some coconut yogurt or tasty cheese on top. In a frittata, cook your protein and eggs, add some sesame seeds and a side of avocado. In a smoothie: add some peanut butter and top with a homemade granola using nuts and seeds.

4. Focus on less intense exercise.

You need to evaluate if the exercise you are doing is greater than your energy intake. More than not, dialing down the intensity, and duration, including at least one rest day, is where it starts.

5. Sleep and manage your stress.

Sleep deprivation suppresses melatonin production as well as excessive HPA activation, which is needed to help your body adapt to stress. Sleep is so important for our bodies. When you are stressed, you produce more cortisol, cortisol lowers the production of estrogen which will impact your hormones and ability to ovulate or menstruate. Find activities that you enjoy that relieve your stress such as reading, baking, singing, dancing, journaling, or creating.

Recovery of HA takes time and patience. In most of my clients, it can take months to years for regular cycles to return.

Having lived through HA and remembering how life absorbing it is, I get it, I am here to create a safe space and get your periods back.

Healing is a unique and individual process, and seeking guidance from a qualified health practitioner like me ensures a personalized approach tailored to your needs. Please book a complimentary 15-minute consultation to learn more about how we can assist you today.

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