So, you want to have a baby, but you’re not getting your period? If you’re not getting your period, this could be a sign that you’re not ovulating, so may not be able to conceive naturally. Although this can be caused by medical reasons, your diet could also be the cause. In this blog we look at the dietary reasons that you may not be getting your period, and what to do about it.
If you haven’t had a period for over three months and there’s no medical reason why you’ve stopped menstruating, it’s called secondary amenorrhea. I’m going to take you through 7 common causes for this condition…
1. Your body fat is too low
The first is that your body weight, or more specifically, your body fat, is too low. Now, you may be naturally slim, or maybe you’ve struggled with an eating disorder, or maybe you’ve even become malnourished as the result of medical reasons such as undergoing chemotherapy…. either way, the treatment is to increase your levels of body fat. Now, this doesn’t mean bingeing on junk food… you still need to eat well if you want to conceive, but try to… increase your portion sizes, increase the number of snacks that you eat, and increase your intake of good fats in your diet such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil and nuts. You’ll probably find that it’s really hard to gain body fat, even when you increase your food intake, as when your levels of body fat are low, you can develop hypermetabolism…. which means that your metabolism runs really quickly. It’s kind of like you’re running a marathon all day, even though you’re just sitting on the couch. So, if you need help, make an appointment with a fertility dietitian.
2. Excessive exercise
This means that you’re burning more calories exercising than you consume in a day. This can impact your body’s hormone levels, and cause your periods to stop. The treatment? Decreasing your levels of physical activity for a while….
3. Excess body weight
Too much body fat can also cause your periods to stop. Body fat, or adipose tissue as it’s officially known, actually produces hormones such as oestrogen which can have a domino impact on other reproductive hormones. If you think too much body fat could be the reason why you’re not getting your periods, try to lose some weight, in a healthy way of course, and see if your period comes back.
4. Thyroid conditions
The thyroid is a small gland in your neck that produces thyroid hormones. These thyroid hormones play a key role in regulating your menstrual cycle. If your thyroid hormones are under or over active, it can impact the frequency of your periods, or even cause them to stop. You can easily get your thyroid hormones checked by your doctor. If you do have thyroid issues, you might like to check out my tutorial on thyroid hormones and fertility.
5. PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome)
Many women with PCOS have their reproductive hormones out of kilter, so this can result in irregular or non-existent periods. This condition needs to be diagnosed by your doctor, but can be treated by a dietitian. Once your hormones are back in order again, your periods should recommence.
6. Nutritional deficiencies
Specifically an iron deficiency, but other nutritional deficiencies may play a role too. Iron deficiency anemia has been found to cause amenorrhea. And, conditions such as untreated Coeliac Disease which result in a malabsorption of nutrients. If you’ve got some sort of malabsorption or nutritional deficiency condition, I’d highly recommend a consultation with a dietitian.
Stress can also be enough to cause your periods to stop. Again, high stress levels can impact upon your hormonal levels. This is why some people gain or lose a lot of weight during periods of extreme stress. Now, I know that reducing your stress levels is much easier said that done, but if stress is the cause of your periods stopping, it is definitely time to get some help.
So, if you’re asking yourself “Why am I not getting my period?”
- See a psychologist to assess your stress levels,
- Get a body composition analysis to check your levels of body fat,
- Get a check up with your doctor to rule out conditions such as PCOS, thyroid problems or Coeliac disease,
- Get a blood test to check on your nutritional status, and
- See a fertility dietitian to help optimise your dietary intake.
To help you optimise your diet and achieve regular periods again, I’ve created a free meal plan. Just go to www.melaniemcgrice.com/fertility to download it.
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