One of the common complaints I hear from young women is that they have lost weight but unfortunately, have also lost their menstrual cycle. If your menstrual cycle is absent for 3 months or more, you have what is known as amenorrhea.
What Causes Amenorrhea
There are several causes for amenorrhea and I’m not going go discuss them all. I am just going to cover the ones relevant to diet and exercise.
First of all, you should know that your menstrual cycle has stopped and this therefore means that you are no longer ovulating. But if your issues are caused by any of the things I have mentioned below, it is reversible.
Low Body Weight & Low Body Fat Percentage
Having an excessively low body weight (and body fat) disrupts many hormone functions in your body, particularly ovulation.
Very Low Calorie Intake
Starving yourself to lose weight can backfire. You might lose weight initially but your metabolism will drop and so will your menstrual cycle.
Exercising to the extreme (especially high intensity cardio) can cause amenorrhea. In many young women, amenorrhea is caused by both excessive exercise and a low body weight.
Having a hormone imbalance or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can also cause amenorrhea.
Mental stress affects the functioning of your hypothalamus. This is an area of your brain that regulates your menstrual cycle. This can cause ovulation and menstruation to stop.
How To Treat Amenorrhea
I am no expert in this field so I would highly recommend that you visit a doctor to get tested and receive the appropriate treatment.
In terms of diet and exercise, I would recommend the following:
- Make sure you’re eating 1200 calories per day at the very minimum. Try to increase your food intake if you can, and don’t “diet”
- Focus on eating lots of healthy fats and minimise carbs (and sugar)
- Cut back on your exercise, especially cardio. You can walk, but I would avoid running and other high intensity cardio for now
- Focus on resistance training and lifting medium heavy weights. Lifting weights will help you increase your metabolism and will speed up your recovery
- Make sure you have 2 rest days per week to allow your body time to recover
- Take some time to relax if you are a highly stressed person. Take at least 1 day per week to relax, and try to incorporate meditation into your daily routine.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to get professional help. If you haven’t had a menstrual cycle for over 3 months, I recommend visiting a doctor.
All the best! xx