You’ve been on the pill ‘all your life’, or have been travelling different time-zones ‘too much’ (how can that ever be too much? ;)), or been training for a marathon..
And now your periods won’t come back?
As scary as this might be, especially if you are starting to do family planning and might like to progress in that area soon.. There are some steps you can do to get your hormones balanced again and with it kickstart your period back into your life.
But first let me explain what it is that might be happening inside you to prevent the period from coming back.
For a period to take place, you need the brain to signal your ovaries to ovulate (mid cycle, which is when you can get pregnant), followed by the development of a corpus luteum (the thing that could potentially house your new baby). This corpus luteum has to produce the hormone progesterone all along the second half of the cycle, followed by an abrupt stop of progesterone, which is then followed by a period (shedding of the uterus lining that is stimulated party by the lack of the hormone progesterone).
Your brain uses a hormone called LH to signal your ovaries to ovulate. Sometimes that can be constantly high in your body, which means your ovaries don’t respond to it anymore when they should, or there is simply not being enough produced to tell your ovaries that now is the time to ovulate. Which then results in too low progesterone in the second half of your cycle. You are in a state of ‘estrogen dominance’, meaning you have comparatively more estrogen than progesterone.. but you need progesterone to be fertile!
This can be the result of having been on the birth control pill for a long time, which would have messed with your natural hormone production, and also accumulated synthetic hormones.
Stress can be another reason you have too little progesterone, as both progesterone and the stress hormone cortisol are built from the same substance (cholesterol!), and if you are stressed and hence using up all the cholesterol for cortisol, or having too little cholesterol (fats!) in your diet, there simply isn’t enough left for the body to make progesterone.
Ok, so to make things even more complicated, there is a condition called PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can lead to you not having your periods. It is usually classified by too much of the ‘male hormone’ testosterone, which shows up in the development of acne and male hair patterns (more hair where we don’t want it, and less hair on our head). If that is the case, there are a few more tweaks to consider.
But let’s get started with a few simple tricks. Here is what you can do:
1. Detox any excess, built up hormones and limit new exposure
If you have been on the pill for a while, your body most likely is still fighting with all the synthetic hormones you had put into yourself every day.
If you haven’t been on the pill, yet struggling with ‘estrogen dominance’, chances are still very high that you have an overload of external hormones, by the name of ‘xenobiotics’. Xenobiotics are substances that, when our body gets in touch with them or even ingests them, act like hormones in our system, throwing of the natural balance. (Most of the time by something called Estrogen Dominance). This includes all the nice silky stuff us girls like to put onto our bodies every day, like conventional shampoo, body lotion, moisturizers, make-up, and extends to conventional washing powders, cleaning detergents, plastics, even if BPA free (plastic containers and wrappings for food storage, plastic drinking bottles, synthetic clothes), and toxic chemicals in our drinking water and possibly household like mercury, mold and lead.
They all mimic hormones, especially the female hormone ‘estrogen’, and disrupt normal bodily cycles. (They are also associated with a higher risk for a whole bunch of other disease development, such as cancers, auto-immune disease, chronic fatigue, depression and many more, so it’s always good to try and get rid of them as much as possible.)
A great start to get rid of them and help the liver clear them out, is to up your cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, onions, brussel sprouts), include beetroot and bitters every other day, and make sure you get enough protein (about 20% of your daily calorie intake). These are essential components for a well functioning detox. To do a proper detox, ask your (local) health care practitioner of your trust, or email me for more details. Depending on your genetic make-up, you might have better or slower working detox mechanisms, and might need different strategies for the best and safest results.
2. De-stress: Signal to your body that it is ‘safe’ to produce adequate amounts of ‘fertility’ hormones
Our bodies are still acting in a way they learned during evolution, our hunters and gatherers times. Not enough food? Being chased by a tiger? That won’t be a safe environment to put babies into, so let’s stop the production of the female hormones needed for ovulation and a possible pregnancy.
There are a few common things us women do that triggers that same response in our modern bodies:
- Too much stress & Too much exercise
If we exercise too much, our body thinks we are constantly running away from a thread- a tiger or such, and that of course wouldn’t be a good environment to put a baby into.
Same goes for emotional stress.
Our bodies shift the hormone production towards the stress hormone cortisol, rather than our ‘fertility’ hormones.
2-3x/ week a high intensity body weight work-out is enough to keep your body healthy and fit, with additional daily walking, gentle stretching and meditation.
3. Not enough nutrients and fats in the diet, too much or too little carbs
Our ‘female’ hormones are made from fat (cholesterol!), and we need plenty of it in our diet to signal our bodies we are in ‘abundance’ and it is a good time to make babies. A good rule of thumb is 50% of our calories from fats, 30% from carbs (mainly vegetables, some fruit and some starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes), and a moderate amount of protein (about 20%).
On a plate that could look much like ¾ of the plate full of veg and green leaves (their calorie content is super low, so we need to add in BULK), and the ¼ with protein and fat. Adding coconut oil and organic butter to your coffee or tea is a great way to boost your daily fat intake too.
Make sure you get plenty of high quality fats, such as coconut oil, avocado, soaked nuts, macadamias, brazil nuts, organic butter, wild caught fish.
Carbs are a slightly difficult subject, and for most of us, we probably are getting too many, leading to blood sugar imbalances. However, if you are already a ‘health nut’, good chances are you are not getting ENOUGH. We do need some carbs to stay healthy, especially us females! Load up on veggies, and add in some source of healthy carbs every day with lunch (not breakfast, as that will set you up for a blood sugar rollercoaster all day and disturb your hormones again), such as 1 serving of sweet potato, a banana, a chia pudding or buckwheat pancake.
4. Toxic exposure (see above)
5. Add in herbs and supplements to stimulate LH, ovulation and progesterone
- Wild Yam in the second half of your cycle, or if you don’t have a cyle, choose a day that you call day 1, then take Wild Yam tablets on day 14-24. You should get your period on day 28.
- Chaste Tree
- Vitamin Bs
- Omega 3
- Vitamin D3 (or sunlight!!)
As always, there is no one size fits all approach. The above described options are a great way to start, but to really get to the root cause, it often needs a more personalized approach. If you haven’t been ovulating in a while, and/or the above doesn’t seem to work, there might be more to it, and some individualized tweaks necessary. Go to your trusted naturopath or other health care practitioner and have them do some hormonal, inflammatory and toxic exposure testing to fine-tune your programme.
A great way to personalize your healthcare and optimise the program is a genetic test, which nowadays is readily available via saliva testing.
I offer these services online, so if you don’t have anyone locally that you trust, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a skype/facetime/whatsapp appointment with me.