Am I Healthy?

Just a warning in advance, this post talks a lot about birth control and all that fun girl stuff, so any guy readers out there–you can skip this one! I know this is just what you want to read the day before Thanksgiving, but I thought it was an important topic that a lot of women out there can relate to!

I’m not sure I’ve ever shared my full birth control story on here but I’ll just give you all a quick rundown so you have a little background as to where I’m coming from. After I was diagnosed with anorexia in the spring of 2009, I started seeing a dietitian and therapist. I stopped seeing the dietitian after a few months but I kept going to therapy appointment regularly until I graduated from high school in May 2010. One thing that both my doctor and therapist recommended a few months into recovery was that I take birth control to jump start my periods. Before this point, I had NEVER had my period before, ever. I was 17 at the time this was suggested to me, and I always felt so awkward at school when girls would talk about their ‘time of the month’ because I had literally never had one, and I was almost out of high school! But at the same time, I was scared out of my mind to take BC. I had heard all the horror stories, mostly of weight gain, and in the early stages of ED recovery, weight gain was the last thing on my mind. So I put off taking it for various reasons until January of 2010. My first period felt like a blessing and a curse–I knew that meant that I was at least capable of having one, but the potential side effects still scared me.

After high school graduation, and early on in my BC experience.

After high school graduation, and early on in my BC experience.

Fast forward 3 years. I had been on low dose BC since early 2010 without many side effects. I liked that it regulated my period and how I always knew exactly when it was coming. BC also kept my moderate acne at bay for the most part, which I also loved. But earlier this year, I started getting headaches more frequently with my period, and my acne was coming back more often. I started toying with the idea of getting off BC, at least for a few months, to see if my body could get it back on its own. Part of me was definitely hoping that I wouldn’t get it back, and that would help me justify to myself that I was still too thin.

Well, I got my wish. I got off BC in May of this year, and as of now (late November) I still haven’t gotten my period back. It’s been a full six months since I’ve had one, and while I love not having to deal with all that crap, I’m also worried. My doctor said to come back and see her if in six months I hadn’t had a period. Back in May, I was so sure that wouldn’t happen. But it did.

I’m kind of scared to go back to the doctor, because I really don’t want to be put back on BC. I’m not so sure how I feel about hormones being pumped into my body, and even though the kind I was using was pretty symptom-free, it did create some problems for me a few years after I started taking it. A lot of people say BC is also a crutch–it doesn’t solve the underlying issue of amenorrhea.

I won’t lie–missing my period kind of helps me validate that I might not be at my healthiest weight. I struggle with this a lot, because even though I haven’t weighed myself since this summer, I’m pretty sure I’m at my highest weight ever. I may still be technically underweight or on the low end of the healthy spectrum, but I don’t have the most positive body image still and having a more physical manifestation of my ED struggles helps me cope with it.

Not going to lie, I don't feel comfortable with how my body looks in this photo.

Not going to lie, I don’t feel comfortable with how my body looks in this photo.

The question is, am I healthy? I’ve been worried that my lack of a period might be due to a more serious issue, like PCOS (it is fairly common in women who aren’t overweight), but I do know that missing a period for even a few months isn’t healthy. As much as I’ve enjoyed spending half of this year without one, I know I need to be more proactive and take control of my health. So I plan on going back to my doctor in December or January to check in on this and hopefully get to the bottom of this issue.

I promise I’ll be back after Thanksgiving to share some less awkward stuff (like fun recipes, etc.) but I would appreciate any and all advice you guys have about this topic!

Have you ever had a similar experience?

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8 thoughts on “Am I Healthy?

  1. Thank you for being honest, I can relate to a lot of your reticense about taking pills and also the entire “symbol” that getting a period is in recovery.

    I am SO proud of you to sucking it up and going to the Dr. I think deep down you know why you aren’t getting it,,,and you are still so young! Your fertility is so important, Trust me.
    Take care of it. Going to the Dr will definitely rule out some things and that is good.

  2. I completely, completely understand where you’re coming from. It’s such a tough position to be in- believe me, I know. It sucks. But it really is a reminder that you aren’t at a weight where your body can maintain a period…which is a huge part of being a woman!

    If you want to talk more about it, please email me! We’re in really similar situations and might be able to support one another. xoxo

  3. I think you are right in viewing the lack of a period as a sign you’re not at your healthiest! Think of it as a justification to keep pushing yourself and trying to gain weight! Having the right amount of weight and body fat is the only way to consistently get your period and even though you may think you’re healthy based on your outside appearance, our judgement can be very flawed and our insides are the true indicators of what’s going on in terms of our health. I give you credit for opening up about this! Have you ever considered working with a dietician again to help you develop some sort of plan to get to your optimal weight? It may be less stressful than trying to go at it on your own….sometimes taking the thinking out of it and just having a plan to follow makes things easier! 🙂 Just a thought! Hope you get some answers soon!

    • I’ve actually started to consider seeing a dietician again, mostly because I struggle a lot with knowing how much/what I should be eating to be at my healthiest and even though I have basic knowledge of nutrition, there are a lot of things I haven’t thought of, especially as a vegan. I had a negative experience with my former dietician but I’d like to open myself up to a more helpful experience for sure!

  4. I got my first period when I was 11. So I envy you in that you didn’t get it until you were 17 but it is still something to worry about. Mine were crazy irregular and my crazy doctor decided I should be tested for a disease that you only get if it runs in your family, and it didn’t run in mine. That was ridiculous. I know that being vegan it can be hard to get B12 and folic acid which are essential when you’re pregnant, but also helps with periods. My BC just increased my depression and I found out that B12 and folic acid help to regulate depression so now it’s just my normal depression level, but I’ve been taking those supplements for years now. Maybe ask about that when you see your doctor?

    • I think you’re onto something with the B12 and folic acid. We learned about a lot of nutritional deficiencies in my nutrition class and while I think veganism is a very healthy lifestyle, it needs some supplementation. I will definitely look into that when I go to my doctor!

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