Let’s Talk About… Hormones
It’s the first Let’s Talk About Tuesday and I am so happy to finally share a bit more into my personal life that doesn’t always make it onto the blog. I’ve come to realize there is a fine line between sharing things that happen to me in order to be helpful and transparent, and oversharing every minute detail about my life. But over the last year and a half I have learned more about hormones and naturally healing my body than I ever thought I would, and I knew my story could be helpful to so many women. I say women over men because a) women make up 91% of my readers, and b) i’m about to get all up into period talk so GET READY LADIES. But if you are a man reading, this could totally be helpful to you too because a lot of what I will explain in this series is about de-stressing! Which let’s be real, every single person can relate to.
Let’s talk about Hypothalamic Amenorrhea:
In January of 2016, A LOT was happening in my life. I thought I would break it down in a list so you could get a glimpse into what was going on:
- We did our first Whole30! And in preparation for that I decided that January would be the first month I would go off birth control which I had been on for 10 years – not to get pregnant, but to balance my hormones naturally as I was starting to eat differently and live a more natural life.
- We had just found out at the end of December that Matt (the hubs) had gotten into Paramedic school which was super incredible and exciting but also meant that he wouldn’t be working for 9 months.
- I was RAMPING up my blog. I made a decision at the beginning of 2016 to post twice a week and commit all of my spare time to blogging outside of work (which i talk more about in this post). Especially with Matt not working I wanted to try and start bringing in some income with the blog!
- If you couldn’t tell from the last two bullets – money was TIGHT. I’m glad we did a Whole30 in January of that year because no eating out or booze really helped to not spend as much money!
As you can see, there were a lot of stressors happening but honestly at the time, I mentally didn’t feel super stressed. I am a very positive person and I really saw the happy side of everything that was going on. I was so thrilled Matt got into paramedic school, I was happy to be eating clean and doing something good for my body, I was also so jazzed about taking my blog to the next level and being a BOSS about it. So when March rolled around and I hadn’t gotten my period back I thought it was a little strange but the internet told me it’s normal to take up to 3 months to get it back after being on birth control for so long… so I put off thinking about it another month.
April came and no aunt flo in sight so I made an appointment with a gyno and we started running tests! At first they thought maybe it was Thyroid? PCOS? Nope and nope – clear on both. We did lots of blood work and nothing came back so my doctor said to wait 2 more months and see if it comes back on it’s own.
2 months later – nothing! I go back to the doctor and she runs another panel of tests and ding ding ding we have a winner! Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. I said what now? Never heard of this in my life and it sounds scary. She explained it to me this way:
Your hypothalamus in the center of your brain controls your reproductive system. When your body goes into fight or flight mode, it stops telling your body to produce the hormones needed for ovulation and in turn, for a period to happen.
When we found this out I was TERRIFIED. And confused. When I went on my rampant google search about it I found out that it is the reason why people with eating disorders or marathon runners lose their periods. That made it even harder to believe because I eat a lot and hate running. I was working out but only about 3 HIIT workouts a week, nothing too crazy I thought!
Let’s talk about fertility:
So next my doctor told me to go to a fertility specialist and get an ultrasound and make sure everything else was okay. By this time it was June and I was really ready to get this figured out and under control! So after going through my eating habits and lifestyle with the fertility specialist she asked me how my stress level was.
At first I said “hmmm I think it’s okay!” I mean we just have no money, i’m working constantly and sitting here talking to you crossing my fingers you aren’t about to tell me i’m infertile… okay so maybe I am stressed? *Instant tears*
STRESS. It’s a son of a b****. Creeps up on your when you don’t even realize it. Looking back on the beginning of 2016 I see now that all of the events going on were very stressful – but being an optimist has its downside too I guess! I have now realized that saying I am happy and cheerful won’t make the stress go away. It will make it manifest into something else entirely.
I will likely write another blog post all about stress and stress management, so let’s get back to this fertility gal for now.
The appointment continued and she agreed it was likely stress induced Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. So then we went and did and ultrasound and I was very happy to see I had lots of eggs all ready and waiting for me when I healed my brain and chilled out for a minute.
So what now?
Her suggestion was to eat lots of healthy fat like avocados (love her for this) and try to de-stress. She said to exercise less which blew my mind because I already felt like I wasn’t doing much. She explained that my cup is full of stress right now and even adding a little bit of exercise can make it overflow even more. So she told me to try to bring it back naturally for another 2 months then going back to my gyno if it doesn’t return.
Do you know what is kind of stressful? Someone telling you to stop stressing.
2 months passed full of yoga and avocados and nothing. Back to the doc I go and she sent me home with a prescription for hormones. It was basically like getting back on birth control – aka – forcing my body to bleed with drugs instead of doing it naturally. I took the pills for 2 days before deciding I really didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole. The rabbit hole where I would take fake hormones until I wanted to have a baby then they would inject more fake hormones in my stomach so I could reproduce.
I wanted to be healthy. I wanted my body to make those decisions for me and not a prescription. So I reached out to a friend who sells essential oils and stocked up! I was in it to win it!
And what do you know, 3 months after that, 2 weeks before quitting my job to blog full time, 2 weeks before closing on our new house and the morning of filming the Dr. Oz show in New York… A PERIOD!
I’ll share more soon on what else I did to de-stress and what I have done in the last year to get myself regular again, but for now it just feels so good to let that out and you in. The more we talk about things that have somehow become taboo in our society, the more we can help and support each other! Stress is real, periods are real and we are all real people just trying to figure out how to live a happy and healthy life. I can’t wait to hear what you think about all of this and cheers to happy hormones!
Wonderful, relatable blog. Thanks for being vulnerable. It will no doubt help others.
Thank you Catherine! Hoping it does 🙂
From someone who will be getting off of birth control in the near future, this was very interesting and potentially helpful down the road. Thank you so much for sharing and can’t wait for more Let’s Talk About Tuesdays!!!
Definitely something to be aware of! So glad you enjoyed!
Thanks so much for sharing, Kelsey!
Thank you for reading! 🙂
You’re my hero!
I really enjoyed reading this. I got diagnosed with PCOS two years ago now and have been controlling it with birth control ever since. I’m starting to think that I want to try and control it naturally so it’s really nice to hear about another woman going through something similar.
Oh definitely! It’s amazing once you start talking about it how common these problems are. I think healing it naturally is the best thing for the future but you have to do what feels right for you!
this is a great book for PCOS — Women Code by Alisa Vitti
I hear ya on the pcos. I also have this and my whole life I’ve just “dealt with it” not really taking action to naturally help better my hormones. I’ve recently come across @betterbydrbrooke who addresses pcos and balancing hormones naturally. I now have a desire to try and figure out how to heal my pcos and maybe put it into remission. Long ways to get there I’m sure but at least I have the desire now and knowledge that there’s a way. Thanks Kelsey for being vulnerable, I’m sure that wasn’t easy, and for opening up this discussion. I love watching your stories and following your posts!
Thanks so much!! It is definitely worth taking the time to find what works for you, I am so glad I did!!
From someone who is diagnosed with thyroid, autoimmune, being told to get off birth control, but being told to stay on birth control…it’s a lot to process! Admittedly, it’s stressful! Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story.
Oh definitely! It is really hard to know what to do and which way to take your health! I am all for taking it into your own hands and doing what feels right for you!
Hi Kelsey! Thanks for sharing this. Which essential oils were you using, and how were you using them?
I used Doterra – mostly diffusing and I would rub their Clary Calm over my ovaries which really helped I think!
Thanks for sharing!! Loved this! What essential oils did you use?!
I used Doterra – mostly diffusing and I would rub their Clary Calm over my ovaries which really helped I think!
Thanks so much for sharing this!! I saw the headline “hormones” on instagram and couldn’t put your post down- walking the dogs while reading was interesting. I’m in a similar situation and am starting essential oils too! Tell us how you used them to heal!
Hey lady!! Ah yes it is so common especially for busy ladies like you! I used Doterra oils – mostly diffusing and I would rub their Clary Calm blend over my ovaries which really helped I think! It’s so hard to de-stress but so important!! 🙂
going through this exact same thing right now! really interested in what you did to help ‘pull’ your period out!! Its been 3 months since i’ve been off BC, and i’d also rather not need hormones from a pill –thanks for sharing ! xoxo
It took a lot of time and patience!! Stress was definitely the cause because focusing on destressing helped a ton!!
I loved your post on this topic!! I suffer from a thyroid imbalance and it’s taken a lot from me & out of me and I like you want to heal naturally!! I can’t wait for your post on how you deal with stress, thanks so much! I love your blog & IG stories lol
So glad you can relate! I will be sharing more very soon!!
You are amazing!! Thank you so much for having the courage to talk about this. You are helping SO many women xoxo
Thank you Davida!! You’re the best!!
Kelsey! Thank you so much for posting! I’m @jeska_rn on IG and I have messaged you a few times regarding less complicated things…I never post about this personal stuff but here goes…My story is almost the same as you, but worse. After a year without a period I went to the doc to find I only have FEW eggs. I have already done one round of fake hormone injections into my belly, eggs retrieved, and none fertilized I am about to start another round and I KNOW i am over stressed but I feel like backing off working out and other things will make me stress more, so I can’t wait to hear what you did to de-stress because I NEED it! ❤️
Oh lady my heart is with you!! It’s such a scary thing and stress plays a huge roles in hormones. I will be sharing more soon but mindfulness and self care are so important!!
Thank you ❤️
Enjoyed reading this. Would love to read more about the specifics of how you overcame (essential oils-wise) and what you do now to manage stress.
Thanks!! I will definitely be sharing more on that soon!
Great post! Thanks for stepping out with faith and courage and being vulnerable. I’m working through my own struggles of hormone imbalance and adrenal fatigue (my brain obviously needs to chill out!) and this post was super relatable.
We totally need to start an continue talking about this stuff. So many women are hiding with these struggles and I doesn’t have to be that way!
Thanks for starting the conversation!
So true!! I am glad it could help. And isn’t it just the hardest to chill out?? Takes a lot of practice and work surprisingly!
This could not have been MORE pertinent to me as I was just talking about stress not 10 mins before I read this post. I’ve been feeling pretty emotional the last week or so and couldn’t understand why. I very rarely feel the urge to cry for no apparent reason, but that’s has been my whole last week. My sister reminded me that: I have in the last 3 weeks: moved to a new city, in a new house, at a New job, joined a New crossfit gym, started a new side business, along with all the other things that accompany a major move. She’s right, I’ve been so excited to experience new things and meet new people and make a positive (and literal) move in my life, I forget that although good and positive, it’s still stressful. I need to remember to be kind to and patient with myself as I make all these adjustments. Thank you for being you and sharing so openly.
Oh lady I feel you!! It’s so easy to just put on a happy and jazzed face but those are huge life changes!! Love that you will be more patient and kind to yourself because it is so vital! I hope you settle in nicely and find your stride!
I think you do this already, but just in case you never mentioned this to your acupuncturist – acupuncture is AMAZING for balancing hormones. I have been going regularly for the last 3 years (first to help me with my unexplained second child fertility issues, and then all through my pregnancy, and after for postpartum care) and my hormones were so regular at one point when we were trying that I would start my period on the 28th day at 3AM On. The. Dot. It was nuts!
Ah yes!!! I am going to talk about that soon too – I just started acupuncture 2 months ago and it has helped me get my periods closer already, wish I had started sooner!!
I love how openly you talk about all this ! Good for you for sticking to your guns and avoiding the hormones. I feel you on the stress, but so inspiring to see where you’re at now!!
Thanks so much Em!! I am so glad to get it all out there and be open, feels like a huge weight lifted!!
I am so happy you posted this! I follow you each day and love love love you and your blog! I so appreciate you being so open. As someone who is trying to de-stress and just come off the pill, too, this post hit home for me!!! Thank you for being so honest. You’ve made my day! Just to see that I’m not alone is amazing!
So glad it was helpful!! It is so good to talk about it. I have learned so much about all of this from so many people I just had to share!!
Your story is SO similar to mine and I can totally relate to everything — especially being on birth control for over 10 years as well as having a doctor tell you eat more and exercise/stress less AND prescribe more hormones. I know stress is definteily a HUGE piece of the puzzle, but part of me has to wonder if being on birth control for years and years isn’t a big piece too. I don’t think enough research has been done on birth control’s long term effects.
Anyhow, I’m so happy that your period came back naturally. I can’t believe it was the morning before you were on the Dr. Oz show! So crazy.
Thank you for sharing your story as I know it will help other women. <3
Oh for real!! I am sure BC has effected so many people like this. Your story made me feel not so alone and I am so happy to finally open up to my community!!
I definitely want to hear more about how you got your period back. I don’t have my period and my doctors don’t really know why, but they’ve ruled everything else out. I stopped with the birth ckntr for the same reason you did, tired of pushing unnatural hormones in my body. Still haven’t found the right mix to get my periods back.
I wonder if they tested for HA! They definitely didn’t think to test for it initially with me. I can’t wait to share more about how I got it back!
Thank you so much for posting this and letting us in!! I have the opposite problem. I have the WORST periods ever. I struggle with it alone and no one understands. My cramps are so bad I pass out, my pms is awful and it’s hard to go to work, I becaome down right nasty and mean am incredibly hateful. I went on birth control to help this, and 5 years and 7 pills later I’m still struggling. I went AIP to help other problems and now I follow a 90/10 paleo approach and acupuncture and still minimal or no relief. This gives me hope!! Thank you again for sharing!! Periods are important to talk about!!
Oh nooo that sounds terrible! I really hope you can figure out the cause and find some relief!! 🙂
I am going through the infertility song and dance with my doctor right now. Slated to start drugs in November but I have some major hesitations. Reading your blog today really verified that my resistance to taking hormones is not wrong. Thank you for sharing!
Of course it’s not wrong!! I think it is great to exhaust all natural options before moving to drugs – but you definitely have to do what works for you! Thinking of you and wishing you luck on this journey!
This has made me think about balance…I just moved 200 miles away from my childhood home town, two young children, a job working from home…I feel hugely blessed and excited and happy too but there’s this underlying overwhelmed feeling I have and I think it’s stress – it took this post for me to recognise it can exist alongside other feelings too!!! I need to find my balance….heartfelt thanks to you from the UK! I love your work xxx
Oh that definitely sounds stressful!! It is great to think positive but also good to recognize that you need some self care and de-stress time!! So glad you are starting to think about it – you’re a rockstar!!!
Thank you for sharing your HA experience. I’m dealing with HA after weight restoring from an ED and even though I’m healthy again still no flow. 🙁 I definitely want to know more about how you shifted your movement and eating. Did you end up needing to gain weight or just add more fats? My PCP and OB also think stress contributes to mine so I’m trying to be patient but damn that biological clock is a b*tch! Anyway. Much love to you and thanks again! –Katie
Oh I hear you!! it is brutal and takes time for your body to catch up! I maybe gained like 5 pounds but nothing crazy cause it wasn’t due to not eating enough for me, just stress! So hard to de stress but necessary!
I very much appreciate you sharing your story!!! Its so ironic that we, women, spend years trying not to get pregnant only to face the difficulty of trying to get pregnant!!
Isn’t it!? It’s just crazy. So glad you enjoyed it!
I just came across your blog from Pinterest as I was looking up Whole 30 recipes. It is so inspiring to hear your story, and I am eager to hear more!
A month ago I started a lectin avoidance diet for 3 months to try and balance my hormones. I was diagnosed with PCOS recently, and I want to deal with it naturally. The diet is basically in line with Whole 30, although there are a few other food items I cannot have (such as almonds, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc.) making it even harder for me to follow.
I am 1/3 of the way done- the last month definitely being a huge challenge and adjustment. I want to see immediate results, but have not gotten my period since starting the diet. Any words of advice on patience and anything else I can do to help the process?
Well it sounds stressful! And stress is a huge component. I would just stick with it and know that if it doesn’t work you can move onto the next thing. I am writing a post now about stress so hopefully that helps too!
Thank you for sharing! I was put on birth control at the young age of 15 and once I got off ( about 7 years later) did not have a single period for 4 years after that. I was eating keto/paleo and limiting workouts etc. I went to several doctors but all were so puzzled and most just recommended I get back on the pill which was not solving the root issue. I think more doctors should be aware of the potential side effects that birth control pills have as they mask symptoms which are signals that your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong!
They definitely should, it is so common!
You helped many by this post!
So glad!! 🙂
You helped many by this post! I was a paramedic trying to get pregnant. Had to go the Infertility route. When I took some time off of work that’s when I became pregnantas prior Insemination day always happened on work days! My babies are now 24!!
I love that!! Stress is so crazy!