Once upon a time I met one of my bloggy friends, Stephanie, when her husband busted his foot on their trip to Vegas and I went to give them an assist. And then that friend co-authored a book about Hypothalamic amenorrhea. And then I got a copy of that book for free to review on my site… this is that book. All that was to say… FTC disclosure rules, I got something for free. 🙂
So I’m going to start off with a review of the book, then down below I’ll get into my personal details a little more and probably a wee bit of a rant!
This book is an extremely comprehensive look at Hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) and the various reasons why a woman might be experiencing problems with missing menstruation. This doesn’t necessarily have to be only for women who are looking to get pregnant (although there is a hefty undercurrent of that in the book) but even those who don’t want to get pregnant but have missing cycles would do good to read this and learn more about all of the ways that can be damaging to health.
There are various scenarios for why one’s period might go missing (underweight, previously underweight, overweight, too much exercise, PCOS, etc.) and this book covers all of the various scenarios with solid research, scientific explanations, evidence and verification on everything stated as well as personal anecdotes from women who have been in these situations (as well as anecdotes from the men in their lives.) It makes it relatable while being very educational.
Not only does it delve into the science of “Why”, but it details plans to regain health as well as ways to deal with the emotional challenges that come with recovery from hypothalamic amenorrhea. Since the book is written by people who have “been there, done that” they provide a very good level of tough love about being disciplined to take the necessary steps to regain cycles while being empathetic to the emotions that come with the journey.
The 4th part talks specifically about getting pregnant, miscarriage and postpartum health. It’s nice that the entire journey beyond what may be the goal for some who start to read this (pregnancy) is covered.
Overall, a very well done book and for anyone who is struggling with missing periods should be a solid reference.
So….. now that I’ve got the basic review of the book done…
I have never received an official Hypothalamic amenorrhea diagnosis, but this book described how my life was a while back. After I “fixed” my eating disorder on my own and was trying to eat more and I had finished my goal marathon in 2008, I went off birth control because my husband wanted us to try for a kiddo. And when I stopped taking the pill… nada. My period never showed up.
I went to the doctor, they had me take a few rounds of hormones but nothing kickstarted that cycle. And I didn’t really care enough to go through any further testing.
After my DNF in 2009 and falling back into eating disorder habits, I entered treatment and gained back weight. But my period never returned UNTIL I got a stress fracture in my foot and wasn’t able to run for 8 weeks. That period of reduced activity triggered a sporadic return of 2 cycles over the course of 5 months, so not fully functional but more than before.
In this book, they really delve into the side of HA where people are overexercising and/or not eating enough. There is a lot about the physiology of why this is necessary but also the psychology to help people get through it, because it is very hard to make that change and gain back weight.
This is where I want to get ranty… it makes me pretty angry that the world we live in praises people for “eating clean” and “discipline” and doing “all the workouts” when those may not be the most healthy choices. Who cares if you forfeit sleep and relationships and fun if you were doing it in the name of health? Who cares if one of the markers of physical health for women (a monthly cycle) is completely missing? You’re a machine and in beast mode and whatever other fitspo nonsense you are lead to believe.
The fact that it’s common enough that women all over are struggling with missing periods (which can have serious health consequences) and for some are unable to achieve goals of having a child due to this cultural “norm” is toxic and infuriating.
Okay, I’m done ranting for now. Back to the book… it’s well-done, well-researched and educational. And ladies, even if you don’t care about having a kid but your period is missing… take heed of that sign and do what you can to get it back. Save your bones, heart and other body parts.