What I'm Doing to Regain My Health and Fertility
After the diagnosis, I finally had to accept that I had hypothalamic amenorrhea. That meant giving up strenuous exercise in favor of gentle yoga and walking, giving up many of my “healthy” eating habits like eating low-fat dairy (switching to more full-fat yogurt and ice cream), and surrendering control.
It also meant accepting that I wouldn’t be getting pregnant anytime soon. You don’t develop hypothalamic amenorrhea in a day, and you can’t recover from it that quickly either. It takes time, patience, and trust. Some people regain their cycles quickly after making changes, but others never do.
But even harder than giving up exercise and changing my eating habits was the emotional aspect of being diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea. It made me feel ashamed, embarrassed, alone, out of control, and like I had failed myself and my husband.
The diagnosis also brought home my perfectionist, Type-A tendencies in all areas of my life, including work. The sky-high standards I was holding myself to weren’t doing me any favors, so it was time to let go.
The last several months since being diagnosed haven’t been easy, and I’m still working on it. But with the help of a mind-body program in which I learned to meditate and practice mindfulness, I’ve been able to make the lifestyle changes I need to recover. I’m no longer doing strenuous exercise, I’m eating what my body needs to be nourished, I reduced volunteer and high-stress job obligations, and I’m making time to truly take care of myself.
With the guidance of my doctor, my BMI has gone up to 22/23, which my doctor thinks will help me regain my period and get pregnant.
Since making these changes I now have a lot more energy, I’m no longer cold all the time (one of the side effects of not having enough body fat), and I sleep much better. And despite now dealing with infertility, I’m actually much less anxious because I have the tools — meditation and mindfulness — to deal with stress when it arises.
In some ways, I feel like a completely different person, but really, I just feel more like the real me.
I wouldn’t wish hypothalamic amenorrhea or infertility on my worst enemy. But I know the journey I’m on is going to make me a better mother — because it’s already made me a better daughter, sister, wife, and friend to others, as well as to myself. I haven’t regained my cycle yet, but I know I’m on my way.
And when I do, that’s when I'll truly know what healthy looks and feels like for me.