Getting Healthy: One Year

As of yesterday, it’s been exactly one year since I’ve gone off birth control. And — surprise, surprise — I still don’t have my period back.

It’s bittersweet, for sure. A big part of me has loved not having to deal with all that girl stuff for a year, and while it’s weird, it’s still a relief. But at the same time, I know it’s not healthy. And I really never thought it would be gone this long.

For the past two months I’ve been pretty busy and haven’t really paid much attention to the nagging fact that my body isn’t at it’s healthiest. But now that it’s been a year, it’s hard to ignore. Only my mom, sister and a close friend know about my missing period, and my mom is the only one who really knows the extent of it.

I tried. I went to the doctor, and got all kinds of tests and was asked many questions about my overall health. The test results all came back normal. I was supposed to be referred to an endocrinologist, but then the whole job/moving thing took over and it fell by the wayside. I have health insurance through my new employer, but I’m still settling in and haven’t taken advantage of it. It’s just all so overwhelming.

But I know it’s doing me no good to keep waiting. To keep hoping it’ll just come back on it’s own. I’m sure it’s possible, but probably not likely. And let’s face it, part of me is secretly pleased that I don’t get it. It proves that I still struggle with an eating disorder.

In my last post, I admitted that getting healthy wasn’t my biggest priority at the moment. I don’t regret that at all, because I had a lot on my plate then and I was in no position to get a doctor’s appointment only to move hundreds of miles away a week later. But I don’t have the luxury of blowing this off anymore. I have to be brave, and take the initiative to get my health back. I have to find a doctor, make an appointment, possibly go through dozens of tests again, and wait for the results. It might not seem as life-threatening as cancer, but it’s still a health concern that could affect me down the road. And if I spend all this money on healthy food and time working out to be my healthiest on the outside, then I need to put the same effort into making sure my body is healthy on the inside too.

No questions, just any advice would be much appreciated! 

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19 thoughts on “Getting Healthy: One Year

  1. Hey Ashley,
    I am obviously not a doctor or medical expert, so don’t take my advice as the absolute truth, but my guess is that you simply don’t have a high enough body fat percentage to trigger your menstrual cycle. I say this because I went through the same thing while struggling with orthorexia and being underweight. It took me gaining quite a bit of weight and increasing my body fat percentage to a healthy level before I got my period at age 19 (about a year ago). Admittedly, I never took birth control pills, so that could have affected your hormone levels, but I simply don’t have enough knowledge on the matter to know for sure! I would recommend possibly making an appointment with either a doctor or nutritionist and trying to get your body fat percentage tested–I did that when I was at my lowest weight, and it was FAR too low for someone my age, height, and weight. Without enough body fat, your body cannot trigger the onset of the menstrual cycle. I don’t want to pry into matters such as your weight and height, since that would be rude of me, but I have a feeling this might be why you haven’t gotten your period back. I know it can be difficult to overcome those ED-related thoughts, but you are correct in saying that this could have a long-term effect on your overall health. I wish you the best of luck with everything, and please don’t hesitate to discuss these issues with healthcare professionals!!

    • Don’t worry about seeming rude — I don’t see it that way at all, and I actually appreciate your insight! I’ve never had my body fat levels tested but I do realize that that’s often why women don’t get their periods. Even if their body fat is at a medically healthy level, it may not be healthy enough for them. This is something I’ll look into further, and can hopefully be tested for.

  2. Advice?
    From me?

    Don’t end up like me.
    There. I have not had a period since 2001 — not to mention what the eating disorder did to my sex drive/dating life (grinded to a halt). Who has the time to date when you are deep in ED or deep in recovery or deep in whatever?

    SO. Now I am of the age where ANY woman needs to be concerned about infertility. Plus I am single. And no period in over a decade. I REALLY want a child.
    And…yeah. I think I may have to give up that dream.

    Do what it takes. It might be gaining weight. It … probably will require it. Sop brace yourself to do whatever it takes. That is what you need to do. My prayers are that you will have the strength I am only now finding. Trust me, time FLIES.

    • That’s hard. Honestly I can’t even imagine…and I don’t want to get to a place where I understand it all too well. I keep telling myself I don’t even really want kids of my own (pregnancy is just a fear tied to my eating disorder) but it doesn’t mean it’s healthy to go without a period.

      I know you know the weight gain aspect is SCARY. Like if I could just do everything else ‘right’ and get to have my health back without gaining any weight, I would. I so would. But I don’t think that’s how it works. Unfortunately. But it’s something I have to suck up and be strong about so I don’t have to be facing what you’re facing right now. Because that’s even scarier, and I give you major props for facing it!

    • I just saw this, and it’s incredibly helpful to me! Well, helpful and hard, because I’m just not in the position where I feel okay gaining any weight, but it’s reassuring to read about other people going through the same thing.

  3. I assume that if you had gone to a doctor than they have already looked at your body fat percentage. I know it’s hard, but you need to make an appointment. If you have insurance most of them have numbers or websites that can tell you which doctors near you are in network, and then you just call them. I just had to find a new OB/GYN and searched, called, and had to show up 15-20 minutes prior to my appointment to fill out paperwork about my medical history and then everything else was the same as any other appointment with them. They might be able to call and get the results from your tests back home and use those to refer you to a specialist. It might be easier and go faster than you think.

    • I’m not positive I’ve ever had my body fat tested, just BMI and weight, which aren’t always the best indicators. I’m actually very curious about my body far percentages, and hopefully once I find a new doctor, they can either do that for me or refer me to a specialist for that.

      • Unless they want the water displacement test done, it wouldn’t take long, although I’ve only ever had it measured by a nutritionist. I recently bought myself a pair of bodyfat calipers to use myself. I hope they can help you! One of my friends hasn’t had her period in over a year either since going off her birth control.

        • The calipers seem like a pretty reliable method that’s less costly and less time-consuming, so I’m sure they’d have that available as an option. Though I’ve always been curious about the water displacement test!

          • I’ve never had it done, but my uni offers it for free so I might look into it one day. They have to train their exercise science majors so they don’t care who does it. I’m still a little confused as to how it works, but it is interesting.

  4. Good for you for starting to prioritize your health! I love what you said in the last bit of this post…it’s so true…what’s the point of eating right and exercising if our insides aren’t funtioning properly. It means were not doing something right! I hope you’re able to get some answers on what’s causing your period issues. Hopefully you’ll be able to make the lifestyle changes needed to get back to optimal health! Thinking of you girl! 🙂

    • Thanks Kaila! It’s frustrating to not be at my healthiest, but hopefully I can figure out exactly what I need to do to get there, and actually be able to do it!

  5. Jess says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — weight, weight, weight. A sure sign you’re not getting your period is simply because either your body fat is too low or you don’t weight enough to be at a healthy weight… which, if it’s the latter, that also means your body fat is too low. I know it’s uncomfortable to put on a few pounds, but really, even something like 10 pounds on a tiny frame like yours, isn’t that much because it all goes on evenly over your entire body! You’ll simply glow and look healthy, not like a string bean 12 year old <– maybe that was immature and mean of me to say, but let's be real. I've had a boyfriend for a year now and he says all the time that girls with a little meat on their bones are way more attractive than girls who are rail thin.

    So look at the bright side of gaining some weight: you'll be healthier (not fat or even close to it!), AND you'll look better! I know it's an uncomfortable process. I went through the same thing over a year ago! But… it's worth it. Trust me.

    • I will say my doctor was slightly concerned about my weight, but then again she’s not up to speed on my full history, as I just began seeing her in 2012, and she wasn’t my doctor before and during my eating disorder. But I know the weight/body fat thing could definitely be a factor, even if I don’t want to see it that way! It’s easier to make excuses, when honestly it probably comes down to my weight. It is just hard for me to recognize that I might need to actively work to gain weight to be healthy, after years of doing the opposite!

  6. Sooo this post came at probably the perfect time for me. It’s a push for me to get in and get some test done because I haven’t had my period for 4 months now. I don’t take BC, I haven’t dropped any crazy weight, and I am DEF not preggo…soooo…I have no idea why!!

    • I hope you get some answers! Even going just a few months without it is a sign of concern, so I’m glad you’re doing something about it sooner rather than later.

  7. Just found your blog and Im so glad I did!

    Ive had anorexia for 10 years (now I’m recovery!) and I lost m period for the majority of that time. Its hard when your physically recovery but you have NO idea what is going on inside you. Keep trekking lovely, recovery is so worth it ❤

    http://journeysthroughmeadows.com

    • Aw, thanks for stopping by and for your kind words! I’m so happy you’re in recovery now! I can’t imagine having no period for that long, but honestly I can’t even imagine having one for that long either, as I got my first one when I was 17 after going on the pill to jumpstart it. So we’re kind of in the same boat, as I have yet to have a cycle on my own. And it’s definitely a struggle when your body is recovering or recovered, but your inside just doesn’t want to catch up!

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