Setting A Realistic Recovery Timeline

Oct 10, 2023 | Tips & Tricks for Recovery

Setting-a-Realistic-recovery-Timeline

Join me as I talk through various factors that play into how long it may take your body to recovery from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and have a healthy period again

In this Episode

  • How eating disorders play into period loss
  • Can you permanently damage your hypothalamus?
  • Why you can get to a healthy weight and still not see your period return
  • Fast versus slow responders to a proper recovery plan
  • The #1 thing that will delay your time to recovery 
  • Understand and accepting what’s realistic for you 

Connect with me!

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Twitter: ⁠@LindseyLusson⁠

Tiktok: @food.freedom.fertility

Podcast Transcript

Lindsey Lusson  00:00

Hey ladies, thanks so much for tuning in to this week’s episode real quick. If you are an avid listener, and you have found the information on this podcast helpful, beneficial or inspiring to you on your recovery journey, we would so appreciate it if you could take the next 30 seconds and leave a quick rating and review. This helps us tremendously in reaching more women and empowering them to take charge of their health and fertility through period recovery. So with that, we will dive into this week’s episode and be sure to listen all the way to the end, where I’m answering some of your listener questions. Welcome to the period recovery and fertility podcast. Here we discuss the challenging, rewarding and life changing process of recovering your period and finding freedom with food and exercise. Whether you’re hoping to regain your cycle to get your health back on track, or you’re ready to become a mama, this podcast is for you. While the recovery process isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, it’s my hope to bring you both information and inspiration during your own recovery journey. I’m your host, registered dietitian and fellow HA woman, Lindsey Lusson.

Lindsey Lusson  01:07

 Alright. Hey, welcome to another solo episode on the food freedom and fertility podcast. I am excited to dive into this topic because I think every person who is thinking about starting HA recovery, maybe you’re already three to six months into your recovery journey. Everyone has this question – “How long is it going to take me to get my period back?” Everyone has that question. And unfortunately, we don’t know. Like there’s no magic eight ball, there’s no perfect formula that you can follow that is going to give you absolute confidence that you will get your period back in X amount of time.

Lindsey Lusson  01:43

There is nothing that can guarantee that. There are active steps that you can be taking that can make your recovery time shorter and we’ll get into that here in a second. But kind of the biggest question that I want to answer and talk through so much nuance around is what is a realistic time to recovery. Thinking about somebody’s history with everything. So that’s kind of where we’re gonna go today, in terms of what’s realistic, should we be shooting for the moon? Should we be getting more support. And then, you know, a time to have an honest conversation with yourself about is this really working for me and what else needs to change. So we’ll kind of start with what’s realistic talk through some of the ins and outs of what might lead to a shorter recovery time versus a longer recovery time, and then talk about if and when you get stuck like what to do next. So that’s kind of what we’ll what we’ll get into today. 

Lindsey Lusson  02:46

And I want to probably start with kind of giving a disclaimer that most of the people that I’m interviewing on this podcast, pretty much all the clients that go through my group program, they are not actively battling an eating disorder. That might be part of their past, might be part of their story and it can absolutely still be showing up and creating some challenges during recovery. But when I talk about someone coming into my group program and getting their period back in four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks. Eight weeks is average for clients following my method. Again, that is not a guarantee that every person will get their period back in eight weeks. And I think that that’s a super important distinction to throw out here just from the get go in the beginning that someone who is mentally, for the most part, and especially physically recovering from an eating disorder will have a shorter recovery time than somebody who is very underweight, very malnourished, and still engaging in eating disorder behaviors. So that’s so important to lead with when we think about what’s a realistic recovery time. 

Lindsey Lusson  03:55

If you’re in eating disorder recovery, it’s going to be a lot longer. And there’s a lot of nuance here. So let’s talk a little bit about it. If you’re in eating disorder recovery, it’s possible that you aren’t even listening to this podcast because there are some individuals whose bodies for whatever reason, this is just their genetics. Some people’s bodies are very resistant towards period loss, meaning they could be struggling with an eating disorder, they could be very malnourished and may never lose their periods. So we do have some research that shows that there are two genes in particular, that kind of predispose a lot of us to period loss. And I think that we can this makes sense, right? When we really think about, you know, that fit girl at the gym who gets her period and doesn’t struggle with infertility. And like here you are struggling with these things, right? You can have person A and person B following the exact same diet, the exact same exercise routine and personalized to lose your period in Person B isn’t right and so it’s the same with eating disorder. So it’s possible that somebody never loses their period in eating disorder recovery, or during while having an eating disorder. 

Lindsey Lusson  05:00

Therefore, there’s no like actual HA recovery that has to occur, there’s just gonna be individuals that in their eating disorder recovery, their periods are just going to come back on their own through re-nourishing through some, you know, forced break from exercise, they’re gonna see their periods come back during eating disorder recovery. I don’t have any statistics or percentages. But that does happen for some people. Now, for the people that I work with. This doesn’t happen. They go through eating disorder recovery, they weight restore, they get to a way better place with their relationship with food. But there’s still some things that are kind of going on that prevents them from cycling. That’s part of my story. I know, that’s part of a lot of you guys’s stories that are kind of listening and following along. But if someone were to say, want to recover their period, like this is like one of their primary goals at this point in time, and they’re actively struggling with a diagnosed eating disorder, I would not expect that person to get their period back in eight weeks. And I tell people that all the time. You know, if I have clients that come to me that are actively struggling with eating disorders, I screen for people in my program very closely just because I know what the program provides the level of support that it offers. And there are going to be some people that aren’t a good fit, because they do need more support with their eating disorder. So if somebody is starting their HA recovery journey, while also working through an eating disorder, and more realistic recovery time, might be a year, it might be longer, it might be shorter, but I wouldn’t have this expectation, if you have a lot going on with still recovering from your eating disorder, that you should be able to get your period back in a couple of weeks, because that’s probably not realistic.

Lindsey Lusson  06:47

Now, for those of us who have never struggled with an eating disorder, for those of us who are considering ourselves, you know, 80-ish percent recovered from our eating disorder, you are weight restored. And when I say weight restored, I mean, you are at a BMI of at least 18.5. There were like BMI calculators on the internet. While I’m not like saying go do that all the time. If you’re not sure, talk to your physician, they will probably let you know if you’re underweight or not. But a lot of people, if they go through eating disorder recovery, they are going to reach what insurance considers weight restored, what maybe some treatment teams considered to be an appropriate weight, for their height, but it may not still be the right weight for their individual body. Again, that’s that’s part of my personal story. And a lot of the clients that I work with, they are, if you’re not watching the video portion, they are “healthy weight for their height, but it’s not where their bodies want to be to cycle.” And so that’s a really hard thing to accept and recovering. Most people struggle with that. But you know, weight gain is part of the process. And just know that if you have been working on your own, and you’ve put on weight, and you’re feeling really frustrated, like oh my gosh, this isn’t working, I’m wasting my time, I’m gaining weight for no reason. No, like that weight gain is beneficial. However you go about it, whether you choose to reverse diet, whether you choose to work on recovery, pull back and and work on recovery again, all the weight that you’re gaining is purposeful and beneficial and that is part of the process. And so someone who is already weight restored is going to have a quicker recovery time than somebody who is starting period recovery underweight. So that’s one thing that kind of goes into the equation. 

Lindsey Lusson  08:30

If you have a long history of an eating disorder, so let’s say your eating disorder started when you were 13 and you are weight restored, but you might still be like engaging in some very disordered behaviors. And your body has a history of a very severe eating disorder. Let’s say that you were hospitalized for a long time, you went through multiple relapses, you spent a significant amount of time very underweight, I have observed in my practice that sometimes those people have longer recovery time. So I factor that into it as well. Maybe we’re weight restored today, that maybe for the past two to three years, we have been underweight and we’ve stayed that way. And we have had a pretty severe the body has had some severe trauma with an eating disorder. I’ve seen that play into recovery times somewhat from a physical standpoint, because like, let’s face it, like your body’s been through a lot if you’ve been through a severe eating disorder, but probably even more so on the mental side of things. And when I kind of mean for that is like it is going to be easier for someone who has never had an eating disorder, or maybe not a very long, very severe eating disorder, right, because there’s all different types of degrees and a lot of people that deal with hearing loss are somewhere on this spectrum of disordered eating. They may not be full blown eating disorder, but if somebody has that history of very severe eating disorder, it’s going to be much harder for that person to really eat where they need to be eating for recovery,

Lindsey Lusson  10:00

or to really let go of exercise and make the modifications they need to scaling down, decreasing intensity, decreasing duration. That’s gonna be harder for somebody that has a lot more trauma to work through, and a lot more neural pathways that have been wired to think in a really unhealthy really disordered way for very long versus somebody who went on to help kick hired a macro coach with led astray and lost their period and hasn’t had their period for a year or two, right? Like different histories with food and exercise, are going to play into the amount of time that it takes your body to recover. So that’s another thing that I want you to guys to consider as you’re thinking about, hey, what’s realistic for me, what makes sense. The physical trauma that has been done to your body through an eating disorder does not mean that you will never recover, there is not such thing as a permanent damage to the ovaries that I know of, there is not no such thing as a permanent damage between your brain and your reproductive organs ever communicating again. You know, a lot of times people will say, Oh, well, they’re just not communicating. And sometimes that communication never comes back like no, full stop. No, like your body is fully capable of recovering from this thing. And having a natural cycle. If you’ve been told that I really don’t think that that’s true for you, I would love to, you know, talk to you a little bit more about why that isn’t true. And talk about where the gaps are in your recovery plan, because I can promise that we can fill them in and I know that we can get your body cycling again. So the physical trauma of an eating disorder doesn’t necessarily does not mean that you can’t ever get your period back. But we do you have to consider the severity of the eating disorder, the length of the eating disorder, where that was happening, slash is happening in your recovery journey. Again, eating disorder and HA recovery, they exist together a lot. And if you’re working through both, I would expect a year-ish recovery time. If we’re ED recovered, we are 80% recovered, we are weight restored, I would expect shorter recovery time. 

Lindsey Lusson  12:12

So let’s say you kind of fall in that second camp. “Hey, Lindsey, I am at the highest weight have ever been for my height. You know, this is this is uncomfortable for me. I’m you know, making changes with exercise of making changes with food. I’ve gained the weight but still no period.” And I’m you know, and maybe admittingly, you have kind of dabbled, right? It’s been a bit of two steps forward, two steps back, maybe there are pieces you know you’re holding on to right, like, I’m at this place, but I can’t go any further. Right? Like, or maybe we’ve been putting it off, right? Like maybe this podcast is motivating you. Maybe it’s giving you a little bit of hope. Maybe your doctor told you you can never recover. And now you’re hearing something different for the first time. So let’s say that today is day one of full on recovery. You are ready to get support and you are either going all in, like according to Dr. Sykes method in “No Period Now What” or you’re working with a coach, a registered dietician who specializes in HA recovery like myself, what would be a realistic recovery time for you? I want to say two to three months is very normal and very average. And so people recover quicker. I have seen clients recover in under a month. I have seen people really commit to recovery, their body responds really quickly and they ovulate in a couple of weeks. And they see their period return in less than a month. That is not like in my opinion, jaw dropping. And if somebody is saying that that was their recovery time, they are not like that unique, because I’ve seen it dozens of times over and we’ll continue to see it in the program and in the work that I do with women. 

Lindsey Lusson  13:53

That being said, I have kind of noticed this trend of like fast responders and slow responders meaning that somebody can go all in really commit with their food and exercise and they’re gonna see their period returned in under a month. And then some people are going to be what I would kind of classify as slow responders, meaning it’s probably going to take them more like two months, maybe three months. But again, in my opinion, because this is what I see in my program for clients who are following my method and really doing the things that we know support getting your period back as quickly as possible. Two months is average. Actually, I think like what my statistics come out to in the clients I’ve worked with over the past, gosh, almost four years now, a little under like seven and a half is really more average for recovery time. And so I know that that’s like flooring some people because and like that might feel a little bit triggering to you. Right? Because like maybe you have been really working hard on recovery for like seven months or longer. Right? And you’re like, What the heck, where’s my period? I think that that is a really good time to get honest with like, what does your recovery plan look like? Are you trying to cut corners? Like, are you eating more, but not really addressing the idea of the energy deficit?

Lindsey Lusson  15:00

Are you still exercising? Right? Exercise will delay your time to recovery. And I say that like very lovingly, very honestly, because I have worked with people who come into my program, and they’re like, “Yeah, I get it, I get it. But like, I’m gonna see, I’m gonna try this my way.” And we get like four weeks, and we get six weeks, and we get seven weeks in and they’re like, alright, this isn’t working. And they drop the exercise and they get their periods back immediately. Decreasing exercise to a intensity that is not stressful on your body is a very important part of recovery. And that will play into your recovery time. I am sure. If you’re listening to this podcast, and you’re asking this question, then you’re probably following other podcasts that are not mine. You’re probably consuming other content on social media that is not just mine. And I think that that is beautiful and wonderful. I think it is so cool that we live in a time where Hypothalamic Amenorrhea is probably not a household term. But like we’re getting there. I’m hopeful. I’m an optimistic person. I think it’s so cool that there’s so much information out there. 

Lindsey Lusson  16:10

What I would caution against is for you to follow one person’s recovery story very closely, and expect that to be what yours is going to look like. What I mean is, I am sure you have come across some people on social media that have continued to work out and just ate a lot and were very intentional about the way that they ate and fueled for the activity that they were doing, and they were still able to recover while exercising. And to be fair, the exercise is not like crystal clear on how much is too much. And there’s gonna be some individual variation. And if you’re one of those people who like got your period back by just simply eating more, putting out a little bit of weight, and you didn’t have to change a damn thing about your exercise, cool, go you! That is abnormal, most people will need to make a drastic reduction in the amount of exercise that they’re doing, and the intensity that they’re doing. Out of the probably 250 at this point, women that I’ve helped to recover, I have one that I know still ran during recovery, and she made some really big adjustments. So she is one that was able to get her period back by a while still running, but that’s one out of 250. Okay, like those are not great odds. And so if you are, you know, three, six, nine months into your recovery journey, and you’re trying to be that one person that it will work for, it may not work for you. And that’s okay, like know that you are not alone and know that it is way more normal to have to make those drastic changes with your exercise to see your periods return.

Lindsey Lusson  17:50

Also to people who get their period back while still exercising, it has been my observation that they go on to have more issues with ovulating regularly, getting their period regular, being able to get pregnant, because there’s more than just getting a period that goes into getting pregnant. So if you do it right the first time, you won’t end up with these potential, you know, issues with fertility with irregular cycles and things of that nature on the other side. Which is why I’m really strongly believe in kind of like the method and the way that I walk through with my clients and recovery because they are able to go on to have baby number one, baby two, baby three. They are able to get their periods back postpartum and not be you know, wondering, are they ever gonna get a period back, right? So like, do recovery right at once, get the support that you need to recover, and you won’t have to do it again. 

Lindsey Lusson  18:45

So to kind of recap with some of the things that we’ve talked about today, we’ve talked about a realistic recovery time, with thinking about like a realistic recovery time for someone, depending on where they’re starting in their recovery journey. And I want to end with a couple of myths about like, you know, I already kind of talked about the idea of some people saying, Oh, well, some people just never get their period back. That is not true. Even if you’ve had a very severe eating disorder, I believe it is really possible for you to recover your period. Yes, there could be more mental challenges. And there can be a little bit longer recovery time. Like I said, if you spent a decent amount of your eating disorder, very undernourished, very malnourished, even if your weight restored today, it might be three months, six months to see your period return but it is 100% possible for you. So starting HA recovery, you are ready to jump all in. You are going to be given a proper plan that we know that works and you’re going to follow that to a tee. I’m going to stand by eight weeks as an average recovery time and saying that most of the people that I work with recover that is the average and then we’ve kind of got our fast responders and our slow responders. 

Lindsey Lusson  19:57

Fast responders being like hey yeah, it’s totally possible to get your period back in under a month. I have seen it  before, dozens of time. I will continue to see it. Actually, that is what my recovery journey was. If you want to flip back to Episode One, long story short, I am going on a trip to Italy for two weeks came on to my period. So like, Yes, it happens. So fast responders under a month, slower responders more like two to three months. And again, in my program, from what I’ve observed, somebody who’s taking most often they’re always, you know, are outliers. But most often when somebody’s taking longer than eight weeks to get a period back, they’re not 100% following every single recommendation and that is okay, right. Like let’s all recognize that this is hard work. Okay, like truly it is. And not everybody is really ready to jump into this pool of discomfort with both feet, right? More often than not, people are dipping their toes in along the way. But once you fully commit two to three months, very realistic recovery time again, barring you are not actively struggling with an eating disorder. Barring you are not starting your HA recovery journey underway. 

Lindsey Lusson  21:12

We’ve already talked about kind of the weightlifting thing. Some people can recover while still exercising. I think weightlifting is probably the biggest gray area. I think most people are in agreement that really high intensity training like hit running Orangetheory, F45, like those style classes like probably not going to be able to recover while still doing those things. I think weightlifting definitely falls a bit in the gray area. I think in theory, someone could potentially be very intentional about their fuelling, create the surplus, make sure that they’ve got their nutrient timing down, make sure that they’ve got all the different types of foods macronutrient balance all the things, I think in theory that could work. I just haven’t really seen it work for a lot of people. And more often than not, I see people, one of two things happening, they do this for a long time, six months, nine months until they’re kind of sick of it. And then they end up having to kind of fully commit to a proper recovery plan, or they struggle with those cycle irregularities thereafter of getting their period back. So yeah, weightlifting is going to really play into it.

Lindsey Lusson  22:22

And then finally, something that I think is really important to recognize, if you’re listening to this podcast, and we’ll kind of ended on this one, is the amount of food that someone needs to recover is different per individual but it’s really common for people to underestimate the amount that they need to recover. Having worked with a lot of clients on, and this is one of the reasons I don’t use calories in my program, but having worked with clients in the past on calories and calorie recommendations, and I think even in no period network, there’s like a little chart based on your height about like, what the recovery minimums are for you. And they’re like different for someone who’s five, nine versus someone who’s five, one. I love Dr. Sykes, I think a lot of the things in that book are incredibly helpful. This is one thing that I actually don’t think is helpful at all. And I think it leads people astray. Because the fact of the matter is, someone can be five one and have a faster metabolism than someone who’s five, nine. Height is one out of many factors that goes into energy requirements just in general. And then I would also argue to say that, like recovery requirements are just different, right? They just are. Because everyone’s bodies are starting at different places, when they’re beginning their recovery journey. We’ll take you know, Sally who is fresh out of eating disorder recovery, barely weight restored, and she’s five one. I think Sally is going to need more calories, tham our five nine athlete who lost her period for four months, because she was training for an ultra marathon. You know, assuming that she’s backing down in our exercise. I think that when we think about how much food somebody’s body needs to recover, we need to recognize that there’s more nuance than just height. So I don’t focus on calorie requirements in recovery. But people do need a lot more than the minimums in recovery. And I’ll also just say that, like you’re not going to overdo it. While you can underdo it on the amount that you’re eating and recovery and never get your period back, you’re not going to eat too much and never get your period back. Like, your period will return if there’s the energy surplus, if there’s the decrease in stress, if we are filling in all the gaps in the recovery plan and all the puzzle pieces are coming together, you will 100% get your period back. But if you undercut and if you don’t eat enough, then no like it probably won’t come back.

Lindsey Lusson  25:00

I think you have to get really honest with yourself about like, if you’re DIY-ing, if you’re trying this on your own, if you’re consuming the content, and you’re putting it into practice and like you’ve got your bestie and your partner, and you’ve got like your little community, and they’re like, Yes, girl, let’s go eat like, hey, no gym, you know, let’s figure out what else to do. Like, if you’ve got your own little community and support system and you are DIY-ing recovery, and you feel very confident in your plan, I would recommend having like a time for reassessment, right. If you were doing it on your own, and you hit month three, and still no period and you have zero signs of your fertility returning, that could be a good time to reach out and work with an expert. If you’re six months in and you’ve been seeing signs of recovery but still no period, right? Like you’re kind of caught in that really frustrating loop of like there’s no cervical mucus, I think I ovulated. Well, no period, I so I must have not ovulated. Obviously, that’s a great time to reach out as well. Or, you know, like, if you are here to get the period back ASAP, and you want to be pregnant yesterday, like why not start off with a proper plan, right. Like I have people come into my program have, this is day one of recovery, and we knock it out, and they get their periods back in under eight weeks. And it’s really a beautiful thing. More often than not people are DYI-ing, they are trying on their own, they’re making some really great changes. And I also want to say that if you are DIY-ing and feeling stuck, what you’re doing on your own isn’t done, it is not not purposeful, right? Like every step that you take, even if it has been a two steps forward, one and a half steps back like that still counts, like that’s still really helpful for recovery. And so whether you’re, you know, timeline is three months, six months a year, if you are working on your own, give your body some time that that is important, right, your periods not gonna come back tomorrow, you’re not going to eat all the foods, stop exercising and get your period back in a week, that’s probably not gonna happen.

Lindsey Lusson  27:01

But give yourself a timeframe, you know, and just based off of the content that I’m sharing today, if I could give you a suggestion, I would say give yourself three months, give yourself three months. And if after that three months, you do not have the period back, I think that you have given it your all and that might be a really good time to reach out. And I hope that that’s helpful. You know, I know, there’s probably even more scenarios that I left out on this podcast. And there are probably even more things to consider in terms of like your recovery time. But those are kind of the biggest that I see, biggest distinctions I think that are really important to make when you’re thinking about a realistic recovery time. And big thing is that can really kind of come into play, when we start thinking about somebody getting their period back again, in under a month versus two to three weeks. We talked about fast responder, slow responders. But even more so than that, it’s just having the plan. It’s just having a plan and it’s having the right accountability, because I think, too, more often than not, we know what to do, we lack the honesty with ourselves about what’s missing. And we like the accountability to keep going when things get hard and uncomfortable. So I hope that this podcast is helpful for you in setting some expectations with your body as you’re working towards recovery. And as always, if you need more support, or you’re looking for more individualized advice, let’s get in touch I’d like to tell you more about how we can help. 

Lindsey Lusson  28:26

Okay, let’s answer some questions. I am so excited to dive into some of our listener questions and do the best that I can on answering some things because as always, like some of these things are hard to Google. So let’s get into it. We have one question from Alexandria, who shares that she has a normal body weight, and has been eating more carbs and around 2000 calories a day, working out three to four times a week. And she asked why am I still in hypothalamic amenorrhea. So I do want to point out that eating around that amount, doing exercise three to four times a week sounds totally healthy and normal for someone who hasn’t been through the trauma of period loss. So what I would want to know is what’s the history here, right? Because eating this way, exercising this way wouldn’t lead to losing your period, probably. I mean, again, you know, there’s lots of factors that could go into here. But that in isolation, wouldn’t lead to HA. So I kind of understand why you’re asking this. But what you need to understand is that when your body has been through trauma of period loss, whether it is from an eating disorder, or a really overly restrictive time with food or a really obsessive compulsive time with exercise, that the body has shut things down to conserve. And so basically it goes from a normal healthy functioning body to oh my gosh, I’m so stressed I don’t have

Lindsey Lusson  29:59

have enough energy to perform all the functions that I need to as a normal healthy female body. I’m going to start shutting down body systems that aren’t essential to keeping you alive. And so that’s going to look like maybe your hair growth slows down, maybe your hair starts to fall out, maybe you start to feel cold all the time, lots of body systems start to shut down as a form of energy conservation. And one of those systems is reproduction and your period. So once the system is shut down and turn off, it’s not just hey, let’s go back up to like baseline what you need. And then boom, everything turns back on, you actually have to go over and above and be in a surplus. So you basically have to be eating a lot more like 2000 calories for working out three to four times a week, that might be your maintenance. And that could be a good place to be in the future, but not right now. Like if you don’t have your period, you’re going to have to eat a lot more than that, to bring your period back to help your body to feel safe, to replenish your nutrient stores. to give the body the energy it needs to better digest food, to have healthy thyroid function, all the things right. So it’s not just about getting your period back. It’s about having enough energy to turn on all of the non essential body functions. And that requires a lot of foods. So the reason why you probably don’t have your period back yet is this is probably just still not enough food. And that’s probably still too much exercise. So it’s hard, right? Because again, when you look at that in isolation, that doesn’t sound unhealthy. Like I don’t think that that would lead to period loss. But because your body’s been through the trauma, it has to be a little bit more structured a little bit more intentional with the food and with the fueling. So I hope that helps.

Lindsey Lusson  29:59

Next question we have is from Joanna. And she asks, during Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, I’m wondering what happens every month with the egg that gets released without bleeding? So this is a really interesting question. I have heard this explained so many different ways, even from like OBGYN and professionals. I had a client one time told me that her OB told her to not worry about not getting her period, because she was basically saving her eggs for the future. Y’all, that’s not true. It’s just not true. So whether or not you are actually ovulating, you are losing eggs every single month, even from the time that you were born. So fun fact, you are born with all of the eggs that you will have when you are in utero. In fact, like even within just a couple of weeks of baby being in utero, the baby already has all the eggs that they will have for their entire life. So it’s wild. I know, it just is. And it isn’t until you hit puberty, that those eggs start to mature and grow in a follicle and for the follicle to mature and for them to actually ovulate to the point where they are traveling down the fallopian tube and potentially meeting sperm to become a baby. So even though you aren’t ovulating, you’re still losing eggs. This is why we typically see a decline in both the amount and the quality of eggs as we age because we have just been losing them all the time regardless of whether or not we’re having our period. So having HA is not protective for fertility in any means. It’s also not the end all be all like just because you had HA it doesn’t mean that you are doomed to not be able to get pregnant, but you are still losing eggs, even though you don’t have a cycle with HA but really good question. And again, I it’s it’s one of those that I’m like, How do you know the answer to this? And I’ve had it heard described a couple of different ways on a couple of different podcasts. But that is the answer to that one. 

Lindsey Lusson  33:48

All right. And we’ll do one more today from Alyssa. So Alyssa shares that she feels that she is eating enough and she is getting her period. But she says I’m getting my period two times every month, what’s going on. So it’s great that you’re getting a cycle, especially if you have gone, you know, months or even years without having a period. But if you’re getting your period twice in a month, so maybe it’s coming every 15 days, that’s not a long enough cycle for your body to go through the whole process of ovulation. So if we are getting two periods a month, I would venture to guess that you aren’t ovulating. And if you have a history of HA, this is kind of what we consider to be on kind of the hypothalamic dysfunction spectrum. So you don’t have no period, but the body still isn’t working correctly. And it can it is oftentimes still tied back to stress over exercise and under fueling. And so this is also kind of one of the patterns that we see sometimes both ways right, as someone is losing their period. So let’s say you you know, start running and you start running a couple more miles a week, and then it turns into 10 miles, 20 miles, etc.

Lindsey Lusson  34:59

And as you’re increasing your mileage, you start to notice that your periods start to become lighter, you start to notice that they’re either closer together or further apart, both can be just kind of falling into that irregular pattern. Again, anything less than 25 days or longer than 35 days is considered to be an irregular cycle. So we go from having normal periods to having irregular periods. And then as potentially mileage increases, if you’re not feeling appropriately for it, that’s when someone could go into full blown in that area. So we start to see cycles doing this pattern as you’re headed, potentially into Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. And we sometimes see this pattern as somebody is recovering. Maybe somebody gets their period back, but they’re not still fueling adequately, or they’re over exercising or right after they get their period back, they jump straight back into training, they start trying to cut calories or lose weight. This could be kind of like a warning pattern that like, hey, like we’re on our way to having a healthy cycle. But body just still doesn’t have everything that it needs to feel safe enough to ovulate, have the regular cycle and do it over and over and over again every single month. And so if you’re coming from HA and you have your period back, but this is now your pattern, I would say there’s more work to do. If you’ve never had HA and this is what’s going on, I think that this could be seen as kind of a warning sign that hey, that body probably needs a little bit more TLC to have a more regular ambulatory cycle. 

Lindsey Lusson  36:27

So that’s it for this week. I hope that this is helpful. If you guys have more questions, be sure to submit them through the Google Form that I send out to my email list twice a month, and I’ll put a link in the show notes for you to be able to hop on to that email list. If you want to stay plugged in on all things food freedom, fertility, all things period recovering fertility podcast and I’d love to hear more questions from you and I hope that you guys find these episodes helpful.

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MEET THE HOST
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I’m a fertility nutritionist and registered dietitian who specializes in hypothalamic amenorrhea. My passion is helping women trying to conceive find freedom with food and exercise, so they can recover their period, and get pregnant naturally.

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EPISODE 1: MY RECOVERY STORY

Jan 19, 2022

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