top of page
Search

Missing or irregular period? Why period health is more important than you can ever imagine - a personal story.




First let me tell you a little story.

 

A little later in life than is often the case, I developed an eating disorder. It became a problem and very unhealthy long before I even realised that was what was happening. In fact, I had done some very difficult to reverse damage even before I realised what was going on. The story is much, much longer than I will go into today because that isn’t the purpose of the blog post but unfortunately it arose, not as a food issue directly as is often the case, but rather it stemmed from craving control while living with depression and manifested as it did.

 

It's so important to be aware of these things because even before I realised that I was unwell, I lost my menstrual cycle. I can distinctly remember my last menstrual cycle because I was on the trip of a lifetime to Canada with family in 2015 the last time I can recall having what I call a ‘proper period’. Beyond that I have had medication induced periods to try to maintain some of my bone health amongst other things but that in itself is something I feel that the GPs and medical system got a little bit wrong initially for me in hindsight – a story for another day but if you are immediately offered the pill please seek the guidance of a specialist and a dietician before anything else.

 

As you can imagine, because I VERY much practice what I preach over here, my lifestyle practices, for the most part, are very healthy physically, my choices that might not be so optimal from a physical health perspective are very measured and calculated in a bid to nurture the mental health side of things. Neurotic as it may seem, I have been really quite unwell and felt really very low – I know and understand how important healthy lifestyle choices are. I have spent so many years trying to improve the damage I did to my body, most notably my hormonal health and it still needs work and I’m not about to give up or make flippant choices now. My point here is that if we don’t take our period health seriously, we can do damage that will last years, even lifetimes – even now I don’t know whether or not I can conceive children naturally.

 

So today I am here to talk about the basics around menstrual health and why I might ask how your libido is doing in your weekly check in – it’s not creepy, it’s pivotal!

 

We have spoken about a ‘classic’ menstrual cycle previously so if that’s something you would like to chat about in terms of length, what it ‘should’ look like – spoiler, there is no ‘normal’, then go and take a peek through the blog back catalogue, beyond there, you know I LOVE questions! Just pop me an email or a message on socials.

 

Even if you would never like to have children, it’s so important for your all-round health that your periods are regulated and healthy. They are a massive indication of our hormone health, especially the communication between the brain and the female reproductive system (hypothalamus and pituitary gland).

 

There are many things that we can look at as a marker of our menstrual health before we even consider things like blood work, tracking methods and ultimately perhaps ultrasound. We can assess the frequency of our periods, the regularity of our periods, the duration and also the volume of bleeding. If any of those seem like they aren’t quite right for what you feel they should be then it’s super important that you go and see a specialist. I suggest a specialist because we all know that with the best will in the world, GPs can’t know everything and they are so stretched. I might be biased as I feel that I was, personally, quite underserved at a pivotal time by my GP when it came to my hormonal health but straight to a specialist before you do any damage is the way that I would go.

 

So, what can cause our periods to go haywire? Well, there are many, many things, too many really to mention in a single blog but a big one is our nutrition and our physical activity – one of the reasons that I am SO passionate that us ladies get it right for us at all stages of our lives, be it in our teen years, menstrual years or menopausal or post-menopausal years – I can’t emphasise the importance of it enough. You know that by now.

 

For me, my nutrition was out of control and so was my physical activity, when really, I thought I was controlling it to the nth degree! The irony!!

 

Properly measured and appropriate exercise for ourselves as individuals (this looks different for us all) can really help with our health, our hormones and even help unwanted menstrual cycle symptoms. However, get it wrong and we create really detrimental effects, most notably irregularities and absence of periods altogether (hypothalamic amenorrhea). You might think ‘well that sounds ideal’, especially if you aren’t thinking about having children, convenient, right? Wrong. It’s SO important, especially for our bone health as we age, that we have periods. Losing periods or even them becoming more irregular as you go further into your health journey and ramp things up is NOT normal and should be addressed immediately. You should really see a medical professional if you think anything might be wrong, it could be a sign of a condition called RED-S (relative energy deficiency syndrome) which means that the body doesn’t have enough energy to meet its basic needs. It might not be, but it’s worth checking.

 

When the body doesn’t have enough energy to meet its most basic needs it shuts off ‘non-essential’ processes in the body, our menstrual cycle being one of them. It doesn’t have the beans to support you, never mind a growing child! You will not perform to intensity and therefore not make physical progress and you will feel like garbage and could do very long-term damage if you don’t get support. It isn’t a badge of honour as to how hard you are working in the gym, I promise you, even if you are an athlete, it needs addressing for your health later in life if nothing else. Your body, after shutting down this process may take a long, long time to trust you and come back to equilibrium again and the longer you leave it, the more likely it is to take longer to reverse – if you need guidance, ask now.

 

At this stage I will point out that there are a number of supplements banded around by the media that will aid in the regularity and health of our periods BUT you know me, we’re all about getting our big ducks in a row first, working on those all-important lifestyle practices, beyond there a supplement can be just that, an addition to optimise.

 

So how can our nutrition help? Well, as with all of the things I chat about and the reason I do what I do – it’s key. An appropriate diet, hitting all of the macro and micronutrients goes without saying. An energy content that is appropriate for us as individuals is all important as ever and diversity in fruit, veggies, protein sources, omegas and the rest are key.

 

There are many, many other things we could delve into today that are trendy to talk about around period health at the moment, like seed cycling for example, but we’ll leave the research around that for another day. Today, I just wanted to emphasise the importance of menstrual health, menstrual regularity and encourage you, if something doesn’t seem right, just ask the appropriate professional, you aren’t wasting anyone’s time, they’ll just reassure you all is normal and you can go on with living a happy and healthy life.

 

If you want to combat those ‘big ducks’ we spoke about earlier and work on a wider approach for what is right for YOU – physical activity, nutrition, sleep, hydration, stress management, hormone health, then I know just the girl. Pop me an email at annalouisecoaching@outlook.com and we’ll chat!

 

Peace and love for now, A x

34 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page