How I got pregnant naturally after Hypothalamic Amenorrhea
After not having a period for 15 years due to too over exercising and under-eating, I managed to recover from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and get pregnant naturally. In this blog post I share my period and fertility journey and how I got pregnant naturally after Hypothalamic Amenorrhea.
From Eating Disorder to Disordered Eating
When I was 14 (2002), I got sick with anorexia. The treatment I received was quite focused on physical recovery and weight restoration. At the age of 16 (2004) I was physically doing a bit better, and this is when I got my first period. Mentally I was still struggling a lot and during high school I fell back into the eating disorder. This led to me loosing my period. Around the age of 20 (2008), I was (quasi) recovered. I could function in the daily life, build up a new life as an adult, starting university etc etc. My period was however still missing. During this time I also started being intimate, so I asked my OD for the pill - which I also got without fuzz.
Realizing no period is indeed a problem
Fast forward to 2016, when I met my (now) husband. Up until this time point I was sure I did not want to have any kids and did not really care about my (artificial) periods. But when I met HIM this changed (I cannot tell if it was due to him, some kind of biological clock or a combination). So in 2018 I decided to get of the pill and start preparing for a future pregnancy. Deep in me I knew that getting pregnant could turn out complicated. I had been stuck in quasi recovery for ten years, and hadn't had a natural period since 14 years (I knew that the monthly bleeding I got from the pill was not really a period). I was therefore not surprised to see that nothing happen when I got of the pill. The OB told be it could take up to three months for the period to return after getting of the pill. So I waited. But of course nothing happen.
Getting a diagnosis
My OB had no clue as to why my period was missing (I was "so healthy"; she wanted to start fertility treatment sooner than later, given that I was approaching 30 and the "time was running out"). Having read about the female athlete triad I suspected the root cause was to find in my lifestyle habits. After some further research I came across the term Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA). I immediately knew that t.h.i.s. i.s. m.e. I knew I was too thin for my body, quite restrictive around food and compulsive about exercise.
Regaining my period
Given that Hypothalamic Amenorrhea is still somewhat a blind spot in Austria and Sweden, maybe even Europe, I decided to recover without support from any practitioners. I bought the Hypothalamic Amenorrhea bible No Period Now What? and red it from front to back. This was autumn 2018. Instead of going "all-in", I took a more gradual approach and implemented changes step-by-step. Partly because I could not stand the thought of being completely sedentary, partly because I wanted to find a lifestyle that I could adopt for the rest of my life. And after about 6 months, in spring 2019, I got my period back! I cried my eyes out of happiness! In the post My Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery Story I go deeper into the changes I implemented to recover from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea.
Getting pregnant naturally
Since we wanted to get pregnant ASAP (and given my personality leaving little space for chance or coincidence) I started tracking my cycles from the first period. My first cycles were rather long (about 35 days) with a short luteal phase (10 days). I stayed true to the changes I had implemented which payed off. For every cycle the total cycle length decreased and the luteal phase length increased. And on the 8th cycle I got pregnant naturally! I had a wonderful pregnancy, and in September 2020 I gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby boy <3. In the post Tracking your cycle you can learn everything about cycle tracking (for conceiving or contraception).
Regaining period after weaning
My goal was to breastfeed for a full six months. After the six months I wanted to wean, get back my period and start baking baby#2. In the end the weaning took a bit longer than planned, but after about 8 months I had completely weaned. The breastfeeding had caused me to drop a bit below my set point, and I knew I could not expect the period to return without me getting my weight back to this range. After I weaned my body automatically stabilized itself around the set point (the calories previously needed for breastfeeding was now sufficient for weight gain). I started observing a lot EWCM, much more than ever before. And it continued for weeks! I was so confused by this and decided to reach out to Nicola a.k.a. Hypothalamic Amenorrhea queen for consultancy. After adding Supplements in Form of Acetyl-L-Carnitine and high dosage vitamin C i finally ovulated! See my post on Supplements And Micro Nutrients in Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery for more instructions on ways you can supplement your body in Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery.
Getting pregnant naturally again
Again the luteal phase was on the short side from the beginning. I strongly suspect that this would eventually had stabilized itself over time as it did last time. But since our goal was to conceive as quick as possible I decided to supplement with progesterone in the luteal phase. On the third cycle I conceived! Nine months later I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy <3
What I found the most challenging with recovery was the insecurity. Will I ever recover? How much weight do I have to gain? How long will it take? What if it does not work?
A second big challenge for me was the lack of professional support. In Austria, maybe even Europe, Hypothalamic Amenorrhea seems to still be an unknown condition and there is not much professional help out there. I get that PCOS is a much more common issue, still the consequences of misdiagnosis can be really harmful. In my post Do I Have Hypothalamic Amenorrhea or PCOS? there are some advice and information that can be used in discussion with your OB.
Lastly, it felt like I had no one to tall to. Of course My husband knew what was going on. He really tried, but he had a really hard time understanding and often managed to say exact the "wrong things". My Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery was quite a burden on our relationship. I felt so lonely! So support from an external source would really have been a great help also from this perspective.
Although the Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery journey was challenging, I do not regret one part of it. By utilizing the skills and knowledge it gave me I can now contribute and make your recovery less overwhelming, scary and lonely. You can get pregnant naturally after Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, I would be thrilled to help you reach your dream <3