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!