Athletic Amenorrhea – Why your period’s gone and how to get it back

Athletic Amenorrhea - Why your period's gone & how to get it back by Strong Sweet Caroline
Athletic Amenorrhea – Why your period’s gone & how to get it back by Strong Sweet Caroline

Growing up a “skinny chick”, I always had irregular periods. I remember getting my 1st period in 6th grade. It was light, and fairly inconsistent. From then on through high school, I was constantly on the move, doing work on the cattle farm, ran track for 2 years, and involved in extracurricular activities like band, FFA, honors society, student council and 4-H. During that time, when my period was “missing”, I did not worry about it. It came back after a few months usually. Sometimes light, sometimes heavy. I was eating what I wanted, when I wanted, without restraints. I was not sexually active, did not have any predetermined health issues and was not on BC. So I went about my life as normal.

Fast forward to my mid 20s. I had some extra bodyfat and was beginning my first ever prep for a bodybuilding competition. After the first month of training and “dieting”, I lost my period. This is was my 1st experience of athletic amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is the absence of menstrual periods for 6 months in a woman who had previously been regular, or for 12 months in a woman who had irregular periods.

I was training hard and heavy, working full time and living in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. Coming out of the first show, I did not get it back. I was eating a “fairly balanced” diet, which I now do not consider balanced. Still no period. February 2017, I was back living in Ohio, I had a new coach, new boyfriend (hi David!) and life was pretty busy but great. My period came back after 2 years without one! From then on, it’s been a road of heavy and light flow, a month skipped here, another there. In March 2018, I started with John as my coach and we were able to correct my period problems within 3 months. I had my period from then all the way to March 2019, when I started a cycle and got into the heart of my competition prep. I do not advocate super supplementation, but am fully transparent in this sport. Depending on the woman and her protocol, it can substantially decrease estrogen production and ramp up testosterone. I was also eating WAY BELOW my maintenance level, had at least 45 minutes of cardio 5 days per week, working a new job and getting little sleep. How does all this add up? Amenorrhea.

As a female athlete, there are more variables that can cause this, compared to the average woman:

  • High cortisol, aka Stress, physical or emotional
  • Too low of body fat or weight for your frame
  • Overexercising
  • Undereating, total calories or micronutrients like zinc, Vitamin B, calcium & iron
  • Genetics, some may lose a period while others have theirs on competition day
  • PCOS, with other symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, unwanted hair growth, hair thinning, infertility, acne

Sure, it may seem “convenient” to not have a period. However, you could have adverse affects like:

  • Bone loss due to decreased production of estrogen
  • Malabsorption of Vitamin D
  • Cold body temperture
  • Low libido or natural lubrication
  • Poor sleep
  • Bowel issues

Every woman is different and will need different protocol to recover her period. I recommend starting with blood work and then evaluating lifestyle changes that may be necessary. Here are some common solutions:

  • Eat more nutrient dense foods
  • Decrease inflammatory foods, mostly sugars and processed foods
  • Stress less, which includes changing workouts/cardio types, intensity and duration
  • Improve consistent, deep sleep
  • Increase intake of Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin B vitamins
  • Supplement Vitex/Chastetree Berry, as it can aid in normalizing pituitary gland function, which can help ovaries produce normal testosterone levels, take as directed on the label, usually in the morning when the pituitary and hypothalamus are most active
  • Supplement adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha and astragalus to overcome adrenal fatigue and lower stress levels

Share your thoughts below! Send me an email for additional inquires about one-on-one coaching and hormone help.

strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com

Sources:

No Period. Now What? By Dr. Nicola J Rinaldi

Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods by Lara Briden ND

Dr. Robyn Nohling, The Real Life RD

Dana Magee, RD

Victoria Felker

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2 Supplements for period health and stress

If you’ve ever been concerned about your period health, it may have caused you some stress. I know it has me. During this time of my competition prep, it has put more stress on my mind and body but I have found 2 staple things to keep in my diet/supplements that help regulate it naturally.

Do note, I am not using and never have used conventional birth control. These are natural remedies and if you are currently on BC, you many not have the same results.

2 Supplements for Period Health

1)Phosphatidylserine (PS)

This amino acid is found in brain cells of humans. It’s a fat-soluble phospholipid, especially helpful in cellular functions. It’s very difficult to find in our foods. It’s best known to help cognitive functionality and lower cortisol.

Dosage: minimum 100mg per day, effective at 300mg/day.

2)Diindolylmethane (DIM)

Derived from compound indole-3-carbinol, DIM restores healthy hormone balance by adjusting the balance of bad estrogens to good estrogens, and by blocking aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen. Meaning: it can help with the big issues from hormone imbalance like acne, PMS, and cancer decelopment.

It is found naturally in cruciferous veggies, highest in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and bok choy. But, only getting it from veggies can be hard on your thyroid, as they releaseĀ  goitrogens. That’s where adding in the supplement can help.

Dosage: 100mg/day up to 400mg/day, take a break after about 6 weeks use

Check out my full description on them in this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/gVuitij79v0

I started using both of these during my first prep in 2016, but the dosage was not as high as I use now. Probably due to increased stress. I am also more aware of my body and its needs.

Questions? Ask away! I have a few products I’ve used I prefer, some including both ingredients. I am also accepting new clients. If interested, please email strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com

Competition cut, modeling photo shoot & period health

The time is here and I’m SO EXCITED! It feels like forever and let’s be real, 3 years off from competition for a goal to step on stage as a bodybuilding competitor is a LONG TIME. With many moving pieces in my life, I am ready for it.

I am officially 12 weeks out from a show I have in mind. Coach John Meadows and I have a plan in place, so I can not just hit a local stage and hopefully win a Figure Overall title, but also go to a national stage (or two) and place to win my IFBB Pro Card!

Below is a little comparison of where I was my last show, Jr. USAs May 2016. Weight was 122 pounds. On right, current update from Feb. 13th. Weight at 147 pounds, feeling pretty thick! Ready to decrease the calories, increase cardio and pump some iron to lean out.

Being a female athlete, this is a topic that has become near and dear to my heart. For over 2 years, I did not have a period AT ALL, aka amenorrhea. I have never been on any conventional birth control. For quite some time, I was fine about not having one… until I realized that was an indicator something else must be “off” inside my body.

I started researching, reading and every time I went to a see a gynocologist, they would say, “Oh, you are fine! Let me give you some birth control to regulate it.” Although tempting, I always answered “no”. I got my period back in Feb. 2017, but then it was still on and off for several months. Extremely heavy flow, painful cramps and acne flare ups pre and post menstruation. Definitely NOT enjoyable and made me think, “why the heck didn’t I get on BC?”

Well, because, the idea of putting artificial hormones into my body did not appeal to me. I wanted to figure it out holistically. And now, it is even more important before I start dieting for my next #NPCFigure show.

I will say, this past two months, I have had CONSISTENT, TIMELY periods. Some cramping, moderately heavy flow, acne flares, but the symptoms are DECREASING. It typically takes 1-3 months to see a difference based on the following:
-Stress levels, including training intensity and cardio
-Sleep quality and duration
-Micronutrient deficiencies
-Diet changes

As I continue into #prepmode, I plan to track my period health and share some tips and advice I’m finding helpful for me. Obviously we are all different, so some things that work for me might not work for everyone. Find what works for YOU and your loved ones!

I’m planning to document my body transition and changes to help others in their journeys. I’ve even started to do some modeling and am excited to continue working with Hoot Photos in Atlanta! He’s already taught me a lot about improving my photographability… if that is a word haha! Excited to share the journey with you all. See more on my latest YouTube video here:
https://youtu.be/HOMBkwP95eg