Amenorrhea No More

This post goes out to all the ladies. 

At least, I believe only ladies will be interested in it since it’s a menstruation thing. If that is a TMI topic for you, don’t bother continuing.  

In 2009, for reasons I can’t even fathom, decided that graduate school was a good idea. During the 2 years I attended, I wasn’t very happy and I was eating a ton of carbohydrates and fat. I just didn’t have the drive or energy to devote to cooking for myself, so quick and easy were mainstays. In hindsight, I wonder if my low mood during that time was due to the situation or the diet.  

Suffice it to say, I gained quite a bit of weight. Even after leaving the graduate program, I continued to gain weight. I was probably at my all-time heaviest around the end of 2015/start of 2016. 

One thing I found the most concerning wasn’t my weight. It was my erratic menstruation.  

I started tracking my period via an app (Period Tracker) back in 2013. I never had a predictable period, so I wanted to see the data myself. I noticed that I’d have a few cycle lengths of around 32-35 days, then one that was around 52 days. This was abnormal, but I didn’t find it that alarming.  

Then 2015 came around and my period disappeared! For those who don’t know, amenorrhea is simply a fancy word for missed periods, particularly consecutive ones.  

I spent a lot of time reading about missing periods when you’re not pregnant. Of course, the one thing that constantly pops up is the one thing you don’t want to read as an obese person –  if you are overweight, losing weight would help. 

So my period went missing for 6 months before I saw it again in June of 2015. Although I was relieved, it went away for another 6 months after that. This was probably a good time to go to a doctor, but I ended up changing my diet with the intent of losing weight to see what would happen.  

I started a ketogenic diet in February of 2016 and I’ve had a cycle every month since. At the start, the number of days between were a bit high, but overtime I’ve evened out to a 30 day cycle. On top of that, the length of my actual period has decreased from 7 days to 4. It’s also not as heavy as it used to be, with a decrease in clot density and size. Definitely a bonus.  

In the end, diet mattered. I’m sure the weight did too. I’ve read in a few places that we store sex hormone in our fat. Which means overweight females have elevated estrogen, so the body compensates by producing more testosterone [1]. This is one of those things associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which tends to cause amenorrhea.  

When you can lose that extra weight, your hormones get to balance out.  

At the time, this wasn’t something I wanted to hear. I’m just glad I finally decided to do it. 

From what I’ve experienced and read, I think that a low carb, high fat diet would be beneficial for many women suffering from not only amenorrhea, but also PCOS. There are several forums devoted to people using this way of eating to aid their infertility woes.  

Do you or have you had any issues with your menstrual cycle? Were you able to fix it with a dietary change?  


[1] There are tons of sites that talk about PCOS and amenorrhea, so give it a search. Here’s a study on the link between obesity and sex hormone issues.

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