In our new Realtalk series, we're sharing personal stories about fertility and family planning. We hope they offer support and inspire honest conversation about an incredibly tough topic.
As a kid, all I wanted to be when I grew up (well, besides a mermaid) was a mom. It’s been my life goal ever since I was little.
And so in May 2014, just after my wedding at 25, I was ready to snap my fingers and make that happen. What I didn’t expect, however, were the struggles and journey I was about to embark in.
After the wedding, I immediately went off of birth control. I had my "withdrawal bleed," as expected. And then three months passed — with no period.
Worried, I went to my gynecologist. “It's just post-Pill amenorrhea," he said. "No big deal.” But a few more months went by without a cycle. And then I started to question things.
Stress and Excessive Exercise: How I Developed Hypothalamic Amenorrhea
Ever since I decided to focus on my health and lost 30 pounds a few years ago, my lifestyle habits have been extremely healthy. So what could be wrong?
But then I started thinking back on the last few years, which happened to be the most stressful and emotional years of my life: My boyfriend and I had moved to a new city, gotten engaged, and planned a wedding in a mere 10 days so that my mother-in-law, whose cancer had severely spread, could attend. We lost her two weeks later.
On the day my mother-in-law passed away, I didn't know what to do. So I just started running. From that point on, I ran three to five miles a day. It was one of the most emotional times of my life. I was a newlywed, and yet I was mourning that immediate loss. In the midst of it all, I was finishing my master's thesis and we were moving into our home.
Around this time, I started taking my healthy habits to a new extreme. In the past, my workouts used to make me feel great. I was proud of bettering my health. But now I was no longer getting that same feeling.
Instead, although I didn't realize it then, I was using exercise as a way to cope. My life was crazy and I felt like I couldn’t control anything else — so I worked out.
Eventually, I upped my workout regimen to seven days a week. I was pushing my body to the extreme. This continued through the summer of 2014, and at that point I hit five months without a cycle.
I saw more doctors, who told me that my body was simply taking longer to bounce back. They said I was healthy, and that I should keep up my exercising. While I wanted to believe this, I felt there was something deeper going on.