I Don’t Have a Period. Now What?

Since I started sharing content on reproductive health, I have had several people reach out asking how to cycle sync if they don’t get their period. Good question!

The short answer is that while not impossible, it is difficult to cycle sync and see optimal results without getting your period. Our bodies are wired to communicate its needs, and knowing which phase you’re in is really important and valuable in providing our bodies what they need at a specific time.

The long answer is that amenorrhea (absence of a period) can be caused by a variety of things- low energy intake, overexercising, stress, and birth control (just to name a few). Despite the cause, the goal should be to regain your period. Period.

For those undereating and/or overexercising, the next step is to consume adequate calories + essential nutrients while taking a break from aggressive activity. Don’t worry. This is just temporary until you regain adequate nutrition and maybe weight to support your reproductive system.

RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport) is very common in athletes due to diet culture and the false belief that the thinner you are, the better you will perform. This is WRONG! And RED-S and amenorrhea puts you at higher risk of injury and osteoporosis. Fun fact: I ran my best marathon after gaining weight and my period back after 4 years of its absence!

For those on birth control, you can eat and exercise according to your birth control’s placebo week (which should be when your hormones drop and you menstruate). You count the days of each phase from there. However, talk to your doctor and OB of other bc options if you’re concerned about an absent period. Once again, I recommend that every premenopausal woman experience their period for optimal overall health.

Follow these steps to gain knowledge and power over your amenorrhea. šŸ‘‡

šŸ’„ See your primary care physician & OBGYN.

šŸ’„ Get your hormone levels tested.

šŸ’„ Get blood work done.

šŸ’„ Track xenoestrogens (toxic materials in cleaning + beauty/skin products) you’re exposing yourself to.

šŸ’„ Consume enough calories!

šŸ’„ Ease up on exercise if you’re overdoing it.

What questions do you have?

 

All About Birth Control

There is more buzz than ever about whether or not birth control is our best friend or worst enemy. Instead of taking advice from general blanket statements or a social media influencer with no credentials whatsoever, let’s take a step back to reevaluate. I am going to do my best with writing an unbiased, factual article about the pros & cons of birth control and whether or not it may be right for YOU. Remember, you are the ultimate decision-maker of and advocate for your own health and its fate.

The History of The Pill

The pill, also known as oral contraceptive, was released in May of 1950. When it was made available, it was illegal for physicians to prescribe it for pregnancy prevention and chalked it up to helping regulate menstruation and “cycle control”. Crazy right? Ā Oh, and you also had to be married to avoid promiscuity. *smh* It wasn’t until the late 60s/early 70s that birth control (bc) was marketed and prescribed as a contraceptive.Ā¹

The pill revolutionized how women perceived and approached sex, as they had more freedom to engage in intercourse with more reliable preventative measures. This isn’t to say that you can’t get pregnant while on the pill, because you can, but the chances are slim to none if you take it routinely. The pill is 99% effective in preventing pregnancies when taken everyday at the same time. This number drops to 91% when a pill or more is missed, resulting in 9 out of 100 women getting pregnant this way a year.Ā²

How it Works

Birth control releases hormones into your bloodstream, ultimately preventing an egg from being released from your ovaries. This process is called ovulation, and it is essential for pregnancy to occur. This means your menstrual bleed on the pill is truly not a period because your body doesn’t experience ovulation. It is simply the shedding of your uterine wall lining due to a dip in hormones during your placebo week.Ā³

The Pill’s Contents

So, there are a variety of brands with different levels of hormones present. The most common form contains both estrogen and progestin (hormones that are inversely correlated and counteract one another). Another form contains just progestin. This type of “mini” pill is for women who experience side effects with estrogen dosing.Ā³

Other Forms of BC

  1. The pill. We’ve already discussed this common form of bc. You take the pill everyday, with one week being a set of placebo pills (they do not contain hormones) that call forth your “menstrual bleed” from a significant decrease in hormones.
  2. The shot. Administered by your doctor every 3 months, the shot (aka Depo-Provera) injects a front load of progestin.ā“ Women like receiving the shot every 3 months for convenience. A perk is that it does not contain estrogen. Two downsides of receiving the shot are an increased risk of osteoporosis due to lower bone density and infertility for up to 10 months after receiving your last injection.āµ
  3. The patch. The patch is worn for 21 days then taken off to trigger a “menstrual bleed”. It releases estrogen and progestin in small doses and is 91% effective in preventing pregnancy.ā¶
  4. The ring. TheĀ Nuvaring is a flexible ring inserted in the vaginal canal. It stays there for 21 days, slowly releasing both estrogen and progestin. When you remove it at day 21, well you know by now- you initiate a bleed. The ring can fall out at different times, including sex, so you must be careful. It is 91% effective in preventing pregnancy when it is used correctly.ā·
  5. Condoms, diaphragms, sponges, and cervical caps.Ā These options are all physically and hormone-free options for birth control. Most of us are familiar with condoms and the fact that they can tear. Diaphragms, sponges, and cervical caps are all used by females and inserted in the vaginal canal to block sperm from entering the fallopian tubes.
  6. Intrauterine Devices (IUDs). IUDs come in two forms: copper and hormonal. The hormonal version releases progestin and consists of the brands Mirena, Liletta, Skyla, and ParaGard. Both are inserted in the uterus through the cervix by a medical professional. Insertion complications can occur, including cramping, rejection (the IUD coming out), along with pain. However, women opt for this option because of its convenience, low maintenance, longevity (ranges from 3-10 years), effectiveness (99.8% effective!), and being able to have it while breastfeeding. The turn around for getting pregnant if one so wishes is fairly quick too.
  7. Natural Rhythmic Method.Ā This method is tracking your cycle to determine when you are ovulating. A few days leading up to, during, and after ovulation are when you can get pregnant. A home fertility test can help affirm this.
  8. Sterilization.Ā An extreme form of birth control is sterilization. This is when women get their fallopian tubes tied to prevent sperm from swimming upstream to fertilize an egg. For men, this means a vasectomy, a minor surgery that blocks sperm as well. Both procedures can be revisable, depending on the approach and method done, but it can be expensive, painful, and unreliable.āø

The Pros of Hormonal Birth Control

  1. It can help regulate your period.
  2. It can alleviate cramping, PMS, PMDD, and other menstrual symptoms.
  3. It can clear up acne.
  4. It decreases your risk of developing uterine cancer.
  5. It helps manage endometriosis.
  6. It can reduce the risk of anemia.ā¹

The Cons of Hormonal Birth Control

  1. You are not experiencing a true menstrual bleed. The hormones in birth control prevent ovulation, an entire phase of the menstrual cycle. Reference “Why You Shouldn’t Dread Your Period” post.
  2. It may cause amenorrhea, absence of a bleed altogether.
  3. It may cause hormonal imbalances.
  4. It increases your risk of blood clots.
  5. It increases risk of cardiovascular disease complications.Ā¹ā°

Risk Factors

According to Mayo Clinic, risk factors/contraindications for taking birth control include if you:

  1. “Are a smoker age 35 or older
  2. Have just given birth
  3. Have a blood-clotting disorder, uncontrolled high blood pressure, certain heart or blood vessel problems, breast cancer, certain liver problems, gallbladder disease, migraines with aura, lupus, prolonged diabetes or complications from diabetes”Ā¹ā°

*I also feel obligated to note that birth control does not protect you against STDs.

Summary Ā 

So there you have it- a concise overview of all things birth control. We covered the pill’s history and makeup, your options of bc, and its pros and cons. I hope I delivered the unbiased facts for all of you women and did you justice in terms of feeling empowered and knowledgeable. My aim is to feed you science-base information so you can make the best decisions for you, your body, and your health. I am here as support along the way, and can offer my counseling services next spring to help you feel and function optimally. Be well! Xo Danielle

Disclaimer: TheĀ medical/healthĀ information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind ofĀ medical/healthĀ advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITEĀ OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATIONĀ IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Resources

1.Liao, P., & Dollin, J. (2012, December). Half a century of the oral contraceptive pill: Historical review and view to the future. Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3520685/

2. Parenthood, P. (n.d.). What is the Effectiveness of Birth Control Pills? Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-effective-is-the-birth-control-pill

3. Birth control pills: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007460.htm

4. 18th, A. (n.d.). Birth-Control-Depo-Provera-vs-Patch Archives. Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.cdlsusa.org/ask-the-expert/birth-control-depo-provera-vs-patch/

5.Ā Holland, K. (1982, October 27). Birth Control Pill vs. Birth Control Shot: Pros and Cons. Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/birth-control/birth-control-pill-vs-shot

6. Birth control patch. (2019, January 26). Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/birth-control-patch/about/pac-20384553

7.Ā Team, T. (2068, May 30). Vaginal Ring for Birth Control. Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/birth-control-vaginal-ring

8. What birth control method is right for you? (2019, February 14). Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/birth-control-methods

9. Osborn, C. (2037, June 25). Benefits of Birth Control: 10 Advantages Beyond Preventing Pregnancy. Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/birth-control-benefits

10. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/birth-control/expert-answers/birth-control-pills/faq-20058110

 

5 Nutrients to Support Your Period

Premenstrual and menstrual symptoms can be less than manageable. Heck, I know plenty of women who have such debilitating symptoms, they’ve taken off school or work at some point. That’s crazy. We should be able to use those days for a mental health reset or when we’re actually sick with other illnesses. So, how can we begin to minimize and alleviate these symptoms to save our sick and PTO days?Ā Nutrition is one of the large pieces to completing this puzzle. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Water

Did you know that water is a nutrient? It sure is! It’s okay if you didn’t, but is it that much of a surprise? We NEED water to survive, and our bodies are made of 60-70% of the stuff! When we are properly hydrated during our periods, we decrease our chances of cramping. This is because we aren’t retaining water and decrease bloating. Water can also help with muscle function, which the uterus is! (well, partly).

2. Omega-3s

Consuming foods high in omega 3s (fatty fish like salmon and tuna, flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans, etc.) has been proven to reduce menstrual pain, help with depression and mood swings, and is a great support for brain health which may help with lessening the incidence of headaches!Ā¹

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice known for its unique flavor in Middle Eastern dishes, its anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to be used as a clothing dye. Ya, it stained my nails from dinner last night…the only downside, but I digress. The antioxidant compound in turmeric is called curcumin. In larger doses, curcumin has been shown to reduce oxidative muscle damage and aid in healing and recovery by decreasing inflammation. This can help with period cramps since the uterus is a muscular organ.

*HOT TIPS* If you don’t like the taste of turmeric, you can purchase a turmeric supplement. Just make sure that black pepper (pepperdine) is present in the formula because it makes it more bioavailable and easier to absorb for us! Same goes for when you are cooking with turmeric or even make a turmeric “golden” latte- add a pinch of pepper!

4. Iron

Iron is the number one nutrient women are deficient in, partially because we lose iron when we menstruate through blood. Here are some great food sources to add to your diet to receive proper amounts of iron:

  • grass-fed beef
  • lentils & legumes
  • shellfish
  • liver & organ meats
  • turkey
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • dark chocolate
  • tofuĀ¹

**HOT TIP** consuming vitamin C increases iron bioavailability. Example: bell peppers with tofu- yum!

5. Magnesium

Studies have shown that magnesium both eases period cramps and decreases the prostaglandins (lipids that act like hormones) that cause those contractions and cramping. So not only does magnesium alleviate the symptoms, but it addresses one of the root causes.

Foods high in magnesium include:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • spinach
  • cashews
  • dark chocolate
  • avocado
  • nuts and seeds
  • tofu
  • whole grainsĀ²

Nutrition can greatly influence how our body operates and feels, with menstrual symptoms being no exception. Water, omega 3s, turmeric, iron, and magnesium are nutrients that can aid in cramp and unfavorable symptom reduction. Please consult with your doctor if you are currently taking any medications to avoid food/drug interactions, and feel free to reach out with questions with how to incorporate these into your diet!

Disclaimer: TheĀ medical/healthĀ information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind ofĀ medical/healthĀ advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITEĀ OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATIONĀ IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Resources

1.Ferguson, S. (2019, July 16). What to Eat During Your Period: Fish, Leafy Greens, Yogurt, and More. Retrieved August 04, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/what-to-eat-during-period

2.Ā Spritzler, F. (n.d.). 10 Magnesium-Rich Foods That Are Super Healthy. Retrieved August 04, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-foods-high-in-magnesium

Why You Shouldn’t Dread Your Period

A period- something found at the end of a sentence or at the end of a menstrual cycle. *Ugh* is what every woman just said in their head after reading that sentence. If your exasperation was audible, then you are probably all too familiar with the woes of the red monster. But what if we reframed how we felt about our period and took control of our experience with it? Hear me out.

Our period is a sign of reproductive health, so much so that theĀ American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) has proposed clinicians should consider one’s menstruation as the fifth vital sign (along with body temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure).Ā¹ Whoa. That’s a bold statement. This tells us that there’s something to be said about the presence of a healthy period.

Amenhorrea is the opposite- the absence of your period. It naturally occurs during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, and when menopause occurs. Additional causes of amenhorrea could be birth control (another great blog post to come) and other medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and blood pressure drugs. Structural abnormalities can also cause issues with menstruation.

If a woman has amenhorrea at any other time, this indicates an underlying issue. Whether its a hormonal imbalance, weight concerns (over or underweight), nutrition deficiencies, overexercising, or stress, something is causing either anovulation (when no egg is released during ovulation) or a skipped menses. Ā²

Aside from the obvious sign of a missed period, some other signs and symptoms that accompany this include:

  • hair loss
  • headaches
  • vision changes
  • facial hair
  • pelvic pain
  • acne
  • nipple dischargeĀ Ā²

Now, after learning that getting your period is HEALTHY and considered the fifth pillar of female health, are you beginning to appreciate its presence more? What about the fact that having your period indicates you are reproductively equipped to reproduce should you so desire? Yes, I completely understand and respect that not all women want children (I might be one of them!), but the fact that our bodies are staying healthy enough for ourselves and that option is incredible.

Benefits of Having a Period

  • reproductive health
  • bone health (hormones aid in maintaining bone density)
  • thyroid & adrenal health
  • being able to track your cycle and leverage you energy levels, creativity, sex drive, and more!
  • you can better understand and make sense of your emotional stateĀ Ā³

If you do not have a period at the moment. Don’t fret. Contact your primary care physician and OB to rule out any medical condition, then turn to your diet and other lifestyle choices to help the return of the red sea. šŸ˜‰

So, after reading this, do you appreciate what us women tend to demonize? Reframe and take control ladies! Your period is normal, natural and something to be talked about and celebrated, not shunned!

Disclaimer: TheĀ medical/healthĀ information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind ofĀ medical/healthĀ advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITEĀ OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATIONĀ IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

References

  1. Vartan, S. (2020, March 16). Doctors Think Your Period Should Be a Fifth Vital Sign. Retrieved July 30, 2020, from https://elemental.medium.com/doctors-think-your-period-should-be-a-fifth-vital-sign-5b882c864783
  2. Amenorrhea. (2019, July 25). Retrieved July 30, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/amenorrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20369299
  3. Network, W. (n.d.). Health benefits of regular menstrual periods. Retrieved July 30, 2020, from https://www.womenshealthnetwork.com/pms-and-menstruation/health-benefits-regular-periods.aspx