I GOT MY PERIOD FOR THE FIRST TIME || How I Did it + Tips!
I could not believe it. Had the moment I’ve been waiting for finally come? At 18 years of age, I had gotten my first period ever.
Not having your period is not normal!
My friends used to tell me I was ‘lucky’ that I didn’t have a monthly cycle. They told me not to worry, and just be glad I didn’t have to go through period pains. But periods–and everything that comes with them–are part of being a woman. Not having your period is NOT NORMAL.We women were made with the beautiful ability to HAVE BABIES. Getting your period is a sign that things are working in your body; it is a sign that you are able to carry a child inside of you, and a sign that your body trusts that that child will get the nourishment it needs to grow and be born. If you are putting your body under extreme amounts of stress (including under-eating and over-exercising), your body cannot trust that you will be able to carry a child without putting it under stress as well.
For years, I put my body under excessive amounts of stress, and did not give my body what it needed. I ate too little, and I exercised too much. I was constantly telling myself I ‘needed’ to run, or I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to eat more than x amount. I lost weight, and my growth stagnated. The reason I stopped growing is actually very simple. The growth halt was my body’s mechanism to protect itself. I wasn’t giving it energy, so it also did not expend energy. This included the expenditure of energy for developing into a woman; and getting my monthly cycle.
When I decided I wanted to truly recover from my eating disorder–a little over a year ago–one of my motivations was being able to have children when I’m older. Keeping my motivations in mind was a huge aspect of my recovery that helped me push through in the hardest of times. However, I could not have done it alone.
In July of 2017, I was admitted to Carolina House with a dangerously low weight, pulse, and blood pressure. If I wanted my life back and I wanted to be able to have children when I got older, I was going to have to fight the hardest fight of my life. I was going to have to gain weight, exercise less, and de-stress. After six of the most difficult months of my life, I had done it. I had gained over thirty pounds and I had healthy vitals.
To be completely honest, I felt uncomfortable in my new body. I had never been this heavy in my life, and it scared me. But I kept reminding myself of everything I had gained besides weight; happiness, energy, memories, and so much more! Yet, I still did not have my period. Considering that having the ability to have children was one of my biggest motivations, it frustrated me that my body was not yet signaling to me that I was truly at my setpoint.
For hours, I searched the internet for possible reasons why I did not have my period yet. I waited for months, yet still no sign of a period. The answer I found everywhere–including in myself–was that I had to have patience. I had starved my body for years, which meant a lot of internal repair work still had to be done. Just because I looked healthy on the outside, did not mean my insides were not still healing.
Although this too, was hard, I accepted the fact that I was doing everything I could. I accepted that my body was at this high weight, and it was necessary to be in this place if I wanted to achieve my goals and gain my full life back. I accepted the fact that I had to be patient, as impatient as I am
On July 11th, 2018…
I got my period for the first time in my life. I had been deemed ‘weight restored’ for eight months now. It was one of the most shocking yet exciting things that had ever happened to me!
What I did to get my period back:
I strongly believe that all of these, in some way, contributed to my body’s ability to heal and get my period.
#1: I ate an abundance of calories. When I first entered Carolina House, I got the ‘standard’ meal plan, which quickly increased to about 4,000 calories within a couple weeks. As much as I dreaded eating this much, it was highly necessary for the healing of all the damage I had done to my body. I ate an abundance of calories for many many months, to assure my body it was getting enough fuel to heal itself. This of course, led to weight gain–about 30 pounds. I obviously gained quite a bit of fat, but this is NECESSARY FOR A PERIOD!!!
#2: I sleep more. As I gained weight, my sleep automatically became SO much better. I was less fixated on what I was going to eat the next day, and I could finally sleep without waking up hungry or thinking about food. I used to wake up multiple times a night, whereas now, I get about 8-10 hours of sleep without waking up in between!
#3: I exercise WAY less. This one is CRUCIAL if you are trying to get your period (back). Exercise-induced amenorrhea is one of the biggest causes for women who do not have their period. Think of it like this: your female body is intelligent enough to know that it is not a safe place for a baby to grow inside of if you are putting it under extreme amounts of stress. Exercise is a huge strain on the body, and when done excessively, hormones are shut-down so that baby-making isn’t possible. I ditched the at-home workouts and long runs to bike riding and 30-minute runs a couple times a week!
#4 I started spending time with friends. This may seem like something totally irrelevant to getting a period, but I strongly believe it helped me get mine. When I was deep in my eating disorder, I isolated myself and felt very lonely. I was constantly stressed out–being around people that accept me for me helped me let some of that go.
#5 I incorporated more carbohydrates and fats into my diet. Yes. You read that right. More carbohydrates and fats, not protein! I used to be obsessed with eating protein. Greek yogurt, egg whites, protein powder, protein bars–I would not eat anything if it wasn’t loaded with protein. I still enjoy these foods, just in a way where my protein intake is more balanced with my carbs and fats. Carbohydrates and fats are a huge factor when it comes to the making of your female hormones, so if you’re period is MIA, I recommend increasing those two macronutrients in your diet.
#6: I was patient and trusted the process. This was probably the hardest thing for me to do. When I had reached my ‘goal weight’, my period was still absent. I started to worry, and felt like I had not done enough. Yet, my body just needed to time to realize it was in a safe place to continue healing.
Keep in mind that I am not a doctor or a health professional, but that I want to share my experience to show you that it is possible to (re)gain your period after a restrictive eating disorder. I got my first period when I was almost 19 years old! Remember, it’s never too late to do the next best thing. Your body is smart, and will do whatever it can to heal you. And it is okay to ask for help in the process.