My experience of overcoming Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (loss of periods) and becoming pregnant

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This post has been a long time coming! Recently I’ve had quite a few emails from lovely ladies who have been struggling with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA) or loss of periods. Long time readers of the blog will know that this is something I struggled with before I became pregnant and had Finley.

If you aren’t familiar with it, HA is a condition where the normal menstrual cycles stop in women due to some form of stress, be that due to over exercise, lack of nutrition or another form of stress on the body.

I decided to record a (monster) vlog talking through my story. It is a bit long, but this is a pretty chunky subject, so here we go:

Apologies for the constant sniffing, I was just getting over my cold!

I really hope that was helpful for those of you out there struggling with this. To quickly recap the key points:

  • My HA came on due to over exercise, not eating enough and lots of stress. I was also on the pill which I stopped. I believe that the pill masked symptoms and I would have become aware of issues much earlier had I not been on the pill. I hate the pill and as I say in the video I think it can fuck you up!
  • I tried eating more, a more varied diet, lots of healthy, and not so healthy, calorie dense foods, reducing stress and reducing exercise. I also tried temping, acupuncture and seed cycling.
  • After several months I didn’t see any improvements so started the medical route
  • I started clomid which did not work after several cycles
  • Tried the clomid extended protocol and on the third round ovulated and immediately fell pregnant (although I believe additional weight gain and relaxation contributed to this and could have caused me to ovulate myself)

Here are some links to some excellent resources and some of the things I mention in the vlog:

Now some of my posts:

I really do hope that is helpful for anyone struggling with this. For so long I thought it was something I’d never overcome. Ideally I would have managed to fix it naturally, but I have no regrets in having used medical assistance to get pregnant. 

Have you ever experienced hormonal imbalance? What are your views on the pill? How in tune with your body do you feel?

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  • This video is so inspiring for others going through the same thing you went through Laura. I think your attitude to the weight gain and your healthy set point is fantastic and a massive inspiration for anyone who needs to gain some weight and isn’t feeling that comfortable with it. I know for me that I am not meant to be a skinny minny and my body is healthy and happy at a higher weight than the silly media try to make us think is “perfect”.
    Totally agree with you re pill. I was on it for around 7 years and coming off of it at the beginning of last year was one of the best things I did for my health and wellbeing. It sorted a whole host of issues out and very quickly :)
    Seeing your face glow in many parts in this video just shows how happy and healthy you are after this journey. Amazing stuff lady, you’re amazing xxx

  • Cat

    Laura you are my hero. Seriously, I loved hearing your story – so honest and helpful.

    I am trying to deal with my own hormonal issues, and sometimes (especially when dealing with the doctors, who – understandably – don’t seem to care unless you’re trying to get pregnant right now, which I’m not!) so it’s really great just to know that there are lots of different things to try.

    Like you said, I doubt it’s just one thing that would help – more a mixture. Above all, not giving up! That’s what I admire most about your quest – you just bloody went for it and didn’t stop till you got there! And Finley must be the best reward ever ;)
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    • Jude

      Hi!

      I just wanted to say: I am experiencing the same thing…having problems and alI I get is: Do you want to get pregnang? me: NO! them: Come again when you want to and we will figure it out.
      I don’t get it!

    • Thanks Cat! I do hope you find more support, as you say (and Jude!) Drs are completely useless unless theres a pregnancy issue which is shocking considering how abnormal it is not to have periods! I hope you overcome those issues soon xx
      Laura Agar Wilson recently posted…Eat, Move, Wear, Love, Link #73: Public speaking and low sugar eatsMy Profile

  • From what I’ve read about this and heard from people, this is a seriously badly understood area in the medical world. No one seems to really take it seriously. It annoys me that doctors are so blasé about it and that the pill is used to fix things, when clearly it doesn’t and just mucks things up further.
    But your blog and the links and advice you’ve given is, I’m sure, immensely helpful. You’re a walking success story and I’m sure it will help other people! Great post!
    Anna @AnnaTheApple recently posted…Hackney mini-breakMy Profile

  • Hi Laura, thank you so much for sharing I really enjoyed hearing it. I love your accent too, it is so soothing! I have had problems with my periods for over 5 years now and still doctors don’t really care, all they want to do is put me on the pill but I refuse. I was underweight for about a year and then gained weight to a healthy weight and am now even heavier than I want to be and still have no period. I have had blood tests and an ultrasound scan too but they were all normal which would suggest I don’t even have a hormonal imbalance? I was referred to a gynaecologist who put me on norethisterone to force me to have a period and they hoped that would kick start them and encourage a cycle. Well it did for 3 months and they have again been non-existent since. They want me to go back on it but I am all for natural options and have said I don’t want to be on medication for any length of time. I am in no way ready to have a baby but I would like to have things back on track and regular before having to face fertility treatment. I am also doing no exercise at the moment as this was recommended by a health coach and I am also tracking my basal body temperature which I am trying to increase because it is low. I have made another appointment with the gynaecologist as it has been a good six months since I last saw one but I don’t have my hopes up that it will be what I want to hear. I’m sorry this message is so long but I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with you. Thank you again for sharing your advice, I really appreciate it :) Nicola x

    • Haha thanks Nicola, I’m glad you like my accent! It sounds like if your basal temp is low that you do have some kind of hormonal imbalance, I reckon the Dr maybe didn’t test you for the hormones that could be the culprit. Did you have your thyroid checked? Have you ever looked into HPA axis / adrenal fatigue? Sorry to throw all this at you, I’m sure you’ll know a lot about this stuff anyway but thought I’d mention it!
      Laura Agar Wilson recently posted…Eat, Move, Wear, Love, Link #73: Public speaking and low sugar eatsMy Profile

      • Thanks for your reply, I believe my thyroid was checked but I haven’t looked into HPA axis/adrenal fatigue so thank you for mentioning it. I didn’t really know much about it last year but have taken more of an interest now so will definitely be asking questions at my next appointment. I am pleased to say that my basal body temperature has been increasing recently which must mean something positive is happening! Please don’t apologise, I genuinely appreciate any advice and suggestions I can get! Thanks Laura :)

  • I experienced Amenorrhea for a year after coming off the pill (and also after several years of being rather unwell….), although I’ve never had a Doctor use the word Amenorrhea, but it definitely was that. It really is quite stressful not having a period – at first I didn’t really mind but then once I got to the six month point, alarm bells were ringing that things seriously weren’t right. Eventually my periods came back a month after being semi-diagnosed with PCOS, but that was probably only because once I’d been ‘diagnosed’, it completely re-focused me with my eating and began to really acknowledge how food affects hormones. I did a humungous post about my experience with PCOS here if you’re at all interested!

    I’m totally with you on the pill being a load of crap – I’m sick to death of GPs prescribing the pill like there’s no tomorrow, because it will apparently solve all women’s problems…. It’s just more hormones, albeit a small amount, being pumped into your body.

    Really admire you for sharing this, as when I spoke about my PCOS experience, I was pretty much shitting my pants about who on earth would read it! But then you just have to remember how many people it could help, or make aware. So well done you! Just listening to the video now, really enjoying your videos.

    She’s So Lucy
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  • You are so inspiring Laura. I really admire how devoted you were to finding out the problem and solving it. And like you said, it cannot have been easy to go through what you had to.
    Thank you for all your advice – I’m sure it will be a great help to so many.
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  • Hi Laura,

    Thanks for shedding some light on this – I didn’t know it was such a common problem! A few years ago I also suffered from a loss of periods due to high stress levels and being underweight – it’s amazing how the body reacts to mental issues. I hope you’re fully well now, and congratulations on overcoming hypothalamic amenorrhea – as well as having a beautiful baby!

    Besma (Curiously Conscious)
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  • Chantelle

    I can’t believe I stumbled across this post the day you hit publish. I have been utterly confused for years as to why I had no period. A very similar story to yours. I have a beautiful little boy now but 2 years post delivery and I’m yet to get a period. So I’m going through it all yet again and only found out this year that I have HA. Didn’t know I had it before I fell pregnant the first time (which took about 2 years/Clomid etc, then fell pregnant naturally). I’ve read so many stories about underweight girls with HA but I’m heavier than what they say they are so feel like it’s not weight related. But after listening to your talk I wonder if maybe I’m still not the weight my body needs to be at. I’ve starved myself on and off over the years and still can’t shake those thoughts from my head when I start feeling a bit podgy. I feel like it might be my crazy head and thoughts that is causing my HA. Something I’m working on slowly. Not easy though. Sorry for the ramble. But I am just so relieved to have stumbled across your blog. Your story resonates with me more than any other I’ve read so far x

    • Congrats on your little boy! I think that is the issue with HA and diagnosis, unless you are clearly underweight Drs disregard it when it can be more of an issue of not being at your body’s natural weight. Have you tried temping to see where your body is with that? Wishing you the best of luck with it all, so glad that you found this blog post helpful!
      Laura Agar Wilson recently posted…Eat, Move, Wear, Love, Link #73: Public speaking and low sugar eatsMy Profile

  • This is so helpful. I had no periods for a year after coming off of the pill twice – the first time I was just told to go back on the pill as I wasn’t trying to get pregnant (I was 20 so far from it!) but the second time I had a scan and blood tests and everything was fine – so frustrating not getting an answer aside from “just go back on the pill, it’s just one of those things” again. It’s something that’s definitely in the back of my mind for the future – even if I don’t ever want kids I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want my body to work in the way it should! x
    lilylipstick recently posted…Protein Power With ExanteMy Profile

  • Rachael

    This was so inspiring and informative as always, thanks Laura!! I experienced HA where my period disappeared for 6 months – for me it was completely due to very high levels of stress when I was living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – working stressful hours, emotional stress breaking up with my long-time boyfriend etc. I was also trying to lose weight at the time eating lots of veg and doing quite intense workouts but I wasn’t really losing weight probably because I was so stressed!! I came back to the UK, chilled out and went to see a naturopathic nutritionist and that very day got back my period! For me I think once I got my stress levels under control, my period came back. I implemented lots of stress-relieving techniques – yoga, making me time, spending time with family and friends as well as eating lots of nutrient rich foods, especially introducing lots of good fats. I try and maintain keeping my stress levels under control with yoga and meditation now. Now my period is very regular. I did go on the pill for a few years previously, and when I came off it took me about a year to get my period back. So I don’t go near the pill!! Even when you are on it, it’s not a ‘real’ period. I’m only 26 and not looking to get pregnant any time soon, but hopefully when I do decide I want children, with keeping stress levels under control and making sure I eat a really nutrient rich diet, and doing lots of yoga, my fertility will be good!!

  • What a great video!

    It’s so nice to see someone being so open about these sorts of problems. I came off the pill about 2 years ago and experienced a lot of nasty side effects (and pregnancy scares!) for about a year before everything settled down again and my body got back into it’s natural routine.

    There’s no way I would go back on it now after reading more about it’s effects and I’m so glad that everything worked out for you in the end and you have your beautiful little boy.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences :)
    Sarah Mallinson recently posted…My Wedding Weight Loss PlanMy Profile

  • Wow, even the comments above are incredible to read. Just goes to show what a complete lack of resources there are with regards to this.

    It’s so important to discuss and share these issues, so often we build up a stigma around them but how else can they be solved?!

    And it drives me mad how the pill just gets forced upon us, just this week I had a mini argument at the clinic with them trying to push me back onto the pill, they couldn’t understand why I didn’t want it!
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  • Kate

    Thank you so much for this Laura. I think this is a really misunderstood area and it’s so, so easy to feel alone when you’re going through it. Even having someone say ‘not getting your period is not normal’ is so helpful. I’ve recently been diagnosed with PCOS, but found that I really, really had to push in order to get a diagnosis (despite long, irregular cycles because I am of a normal weight without many of the other typical PCOS symptoms I found that doctors often didn’t take my concerns seriously). If I’ve learnt one thing throughout this process, it’s that you have to be your own advocate – no one care about your health as much as you do.

  • I am not a fan at all of the pill but I love your story and journey and yay now you have a little Fin as proof of the healthy pudding:)
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  • amie

    new follower & in love with your blog. just watched this video & am in tears. i’m trying to beat HA right now & you are SUCH a HUGE inspiration for me. thanks for proving it’s all worth it in the end & possible <3

  • Emma

    Don’t know how I’ve never come across your website before Laura, but I’ve just watched your video and I too was in tears. I fully believe that I have HA but due to there being issues with my husband we’ve been referred straight for ivf, and the fact that I don’t have periods is not being addressed. As I’m a proactive person, and the waiting list for ivf is about 1 year, I’m going to do all I can to try and balance my body in the meantime. This video was a true inspiration to me, and I identified so much with all that you were saying. Thank you

  • Hi Laura! So glad that you overcame HA! I went through it too and am also pregnant after recovery. I was also on the pill and didn’t know anything was wrong for a long time — and here’s the kicker for me — I was working in the fitness industry when I found out I had HA, so stopping exercising wasn’t an option for me. I reduced my load, changed my diet, went to acupuncture, took some herbs and did a few other things that eventually worked. I LOVE that you provide this resource and share your story so that more women know that they are not alone. I actually just wrote an ebook about my journey through HA to pregnancy as well here … http://aladygoeswest.com/fitandfertile/ — Keep up the great work, lady!! xoxoxoxo :)