If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or approaching menopause its perfectly normal for your periods to stop but if they stop at any other time you could have a condition called amenorrhoea.
Amenorrhoea is a term used to define lack of periods.
When I first decided to come off the pill (for personal reasons) my periods didn’t return straight away. I was F.R.E.A.K.E.D out. I did pregnancy test after pregnancy test and they were all negative. I went to my GP who said this is common and to wait it out, that it can take anywhere between 4-6 months to return.
I didn’t like it.
For the majority of my menstruating years (20 years at this point) I despised my period. It got in the way of everything. It would occur when I least wanted it to, the start of a holiday, a date, sitting exams, the morning of a job interview. Like I didn’t have enough to focus on I had to deal with its painful, fatiguing interference.
My period was a painful nuisance.
Every month, throughout my teens I was sent home from school because of period pains. I couldn’t sit through class. Most of my friends thought it was an excuse to get off early but it wasn't. I can assure you. I would land home, hot water bottle pressed firmly on my abdomen, pain killers down the hatch and I would just deal with it. In some instances my mother would find me hunched over on the floor in debilitating pain.
My periods were not fun. They were a painful yet necessary part of life and I just had to learn to deal with them like every other woman.
As much as I despised my periods when they didn’t return I was worried. Worried because I feared something was wrong.
Your menstrual cycle can reflect your overall health.
Regular healthy periods indicate that your womb is healthy, your hormones are balanced and your body is getting the food, exercise, relaxation and sleep it needs. My body on the other hand was trying to regulate itself having been on the pill for over two decades.
There are a number of reasons you may miss your period:
- Periods may stop due to pregnancy, under or over active thyroid, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high levels of prolactin
- Menopause or premature menopause
- Being underweight as the body can assume that there is a famine and shut down systems in order to survive and our reproductive system is one of the first to be impacted by this type of stress
- Being overweight can stop your periods because the more body fat your have the more oestrogen you produce. While some fat is essential excess fat can be detrimental for our health in many ways
- Over exercising can impact your period as it can reduce body fat and it can increase physical stress
- Other types of stress can impact the body such as mental or emotion al stress or trauma that causes your body to release cortisol (the stress hormone) this can have a knock on effect on all our other hormones and like I said above when the body perceives stress the reproductive system can shut down. This is similar instances to when you may be anticipating exams or a holiday and your period may be late or even early
- Coming off the pill can also mean that the pill may have masked another condition such as PCOS or thyroid issues to which your GP can test.
After 6 months of no period I pressed my GP to do further testing. All tests came back fine. In some cases it can take the body some time for hormones to regulate after being on the pill for so long, also termed a “hangover hormone imbalance”.
I focused on eating well to support my blood sugar and balancing hormones, started yoga classes to help de-stress and relaxed with some light exercising. A friend of mine had suggested acupuncture. I was reluctant to stick needles in my abdomen but would try anything at this point.
Acupuncture can help calm the nervous system and help the blood vessels to dilate, thereby increasing the flow of blood to the uterus which also ensures the endometrial lining is able to grow to an appropriate thickness to allow for menses. After 6 months of looking after my nutrition, exercise, sleep and relaxation together with some acupuncture sessions my periods returned. This was great news but I still had a journey to go. Even though they returned it took about a full year and a half to get back to a normal regular cycle and even ensure I was ovulating. I had to put a lot of work into myself and my nutrition to ensure that I could maintain a healthy regular cycle.
If you are struggling to understand your cycle and want to learn more about what you can do with your diet and lifestyle to help regulate your periods check out our new programme "Rebalance your Cycle"