My Journey with Amenorrhea

Hey everybody! I am writing today about a more serious topic, but I think it matters and that other women will relate. When I started this blog, one of the key things I wanted to do was help women by sharing the struggles I have been through. And my struggle with amenorrhea is a big one. So here is my warning, this is about all stuff female! Boys, get out. 😁

When I was in college, I went through an extended time of amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is defined as the absence of a period. I had never struggle with this before, and my periods were always extremely regular. They weren’t super painful, I wasn’t moody, and they passed in about four days. When I was a junior in college, they just stopped. Out of nowhere. This went on for six months before I finally went to the doctor.

I kept thinking “okay, this is the month I will start my period”. But it never came and a long, stressful six months went by before I decided to see a specialist. I should also stress that there was 100% no way that I was pregnant because I was not sexually active. Pregnancy is the most common cause for amenorrhea, but that didn’t apply to me at this time.

When I went to the doctor, they made me do a pregnancy test per protocol (which was negative) and then some blood work. My PCP thought that I had a disorder called PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) so she ordered a few ultrasounds. This made me super nervous because PCOS is a rough disease that has a lot of terrible symptoms.

Fast forward a few weeks- I got my ultrasounds done. They did a normal ultrasound and then did a transvaginal ultrasound which was slightly uncomfortable but not painful. My doctor called me shortly after saying I did have cysts on my ovaries so I did have PCOS, and that she was referring me to a gynecologist and sending in metformin for me to start taking.

I HATED Metformin. I was supposed to take it twice a day, but it made me super sick to my stomach so I had to cut it down to once a day before bedtime. When I had my appointment with my gynecologist, she told me that I could keep taking the metformin or she could start me on birth control. I really didn’t want to start BC yet so since she told me it was fine that I only took the metformin once a day, I stuck with that. I didn’t really get any more information on PCOS, other non medicinal treatment options, or any other reasons on why they thought it was PCOS. It seemed like they just saw that I had cysts on my ovaries and slapped an easy label on it.

I started the metformin and soon my periods were back. They were a lot more painful and effected my moods a TON more than they used to. It felt very unnatural to me, but I didn’t say anything.

I was on metformin for about five years before I had to start going to a new OBGYN because I started a new job. It was time for my annual so I made an appointment in my new hospital network and went in for my exam.

My new doctor CHANGED MY LIFE. She took one look at me after looking at my history and said “You don’t have PCOS”. I was like uh what? She told me that I had no other PCOS symptoms, my labs were fine, and there are plenty of other reasons why my periods may have stopped. I was shook! I had spent a lot of time stressing about having PCOS because a lot of women who do have PCOS struggle with infertility. That made me so sad to think about. Turns out that having cysts on your ovaries is very, very common and does not mean there is necessarily something wrong. It might have even just been a coincidence that I was struggling with amenorrhea and had cysts, and not even a connection.

At this time, Kyle and I were about to get married so I needed to get on some sort of birth control. My journey with birth control is a whole different story, and I plan on sharing my experience with that in a different post. My new OBGYN told me that I could definitely stop the metformin since she didn’t think I had PCOS, plus she was starting my on BC which would also help regulate my periods. I was voicing some of my stresses about what caused my amenorrhea so many years ago, and she explained her thoughts to me.

We talked about my experience with disordered eating, and while it was a few years before my amenorrhea, it could still have had an impact on my cycle long term which is why it took a few years to show it’s affect. I was also in one of the hardest years of my nursing school career and stress can greatly effect our cycles. I was also not eating in a very healthy way. While I wasn’t starving myself anymore, I was not giving myself the nutrients I needed. I would go through cycles of only drinking slim fast shakes (THESE ARE TERRIBLE!) and eating salads and then I would randomly eat super processed carbs and sugars. It was not healthy. Your body NEEDS food to regulate all body systems. I was lucky that the worst thing that happened to me was reversible amenorrhea- it could have been MUCH, MUCH worse.

All of these things could have created the perfect storm for me to start having issues with my hormones.

I would also like to say that if you do have PCOS, there are a ton of resources out there regarding the best diet, exercise, fertility help, and stress management for PCOS. It is not a disease that should rule your life, and I definitely suggest doing your research and finding a doctor who actually helps and listens to you.

I had a lot of struggles with birth control so I ended up stopping it less than a year after I started. And my periods stayed! I have had zero issues with getting my periods for the last seven months, and they are all natural now. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. They are much less painful and effect my mental health a lot less now that I am getting them on my own.

I attribute this drastic change to a couple of things. I have a much healthier and balanced diet now. I consume a lot of NATURAL fats and proteins every day. I still eat carbs, but I eat a lot less than I used to, and I don’t consume a lot of processed ones anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I will still throw down a pizza, eat fries, or get ice cream sometimes. I just don’t do it every day. I feel so much better all around when I eat like this, and I feel so much more balanced. I pay very close attention to the labels on foods before I buy them. I look out for a lot of ingredients that cause migraines, but I believe they also have a big impact on my hormonal health as well. I look for hidden MSGs, fake sugars, high amounts of normal sugar, additives, bad oils, and any unnatural substances. High amounts of sugar and carbs can greatly effect our hormones.

I also have found more work outs that I enjoy and don’t cause too much stress on my body. I do a lot of long walks, some running, yoga, stretching, and moderate weight training. I also FUEL before and after my work outs. I know that I need a high protein and fat snack after my work outs because my body needs it to recuperate.

I have also practiced minimizing stress. Doing a daily devotional and practicing gratitudes gives me a lot of positive vibes. Making a to do list for the day the night before helps me sleep well knowing I have a plan for the next day. Getting outside helps me stay grounded and calm down when I am stressed. Practicing deep breathing slows down my heart rate and gives me time to asses whatever is making me uneasy.

I have been off all forms of medications that effect my cycle for the last seven months, and I am never going back. I know how to treat my body now. I have had zero problems with my cycle since I stopped both the metformin and BC. I do plan on having some more lab work and needed tests done in the near future to see how my body is doing with ovulation and my fertility status, but for right now, I am pretty happy with how far I have come.

I hope this can help someone in some sort of way! Please remember that nobody knows your body better than you, and that you should fight for your own health. You are your biggest advocate.

I don’t really have any specific questions for you guys this time, but I do want to know your thoughts, experiences, feelings, etc. if you are comfortable sharing below or to me privately. Let’s chat. 🙂

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4 thoughts on “My Journey with Amenorrhea

  1. Lindsay says:

    Wow! Thank you for sharing and being so open about your struggles. I think so many women are scared to talk about these things (especially college aged women or recently married women). I personally am still struggling with amenorrhea but I know the cause and while I won’t be sharing it here you’re welcome to reach out to me if you’d like to talk about it more!!
    Hope you have a great weekend! Keep on sharing these posts they’re so insightful and great to read!

    • Miriam Leigh says:

      Thank you so much, Lindsay.
      I totally understand. Thank you for sharing!
      I totally agree that many women are uncomfortable or scared of sharing these things, but there is something so beautiful and real about it when we do. 🙂

  2. Jaycey says:

    YES! Thank you for speaking out about struggles with women’s health. I’m so glad these things are coming to the surface more and women are feeling comfortable about sharing instead of hiding things that they are ashamed of or embarrassed by. This post will help any woman reading it to know she’s not alone and to take charge of her own health!

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