My OB/GYN wasn't shocked, telling me many women take months to get back to a regular cycle; however, I hadn't had any cycle. I live a healthy lifestyle—after all, I'm a certified health coach. I pay attention to what I eat, I don't drink alcohol during the week, I work out, I get at least seven hours of sleep each night, so what gives?
My OB/GYN talked to me about amenorrhea—the lack of menstruation—in which a woman misses three periods in a row. There are natural causes for this: pregnancy, menopause, or if you're breast-feeding; however, I fell into none of these. What I did have was a love of exercise. It's like that old saying goes: I was doing too much of a good thing.
A month before going off the pill I crossed the finish line of my seventh marathon, I set a personal record in the 5K in April, and was heavy strength training either on my own or in a class three times a week. I wasn't showing any signs of overtraining, and my blood work showed numbers my doctor was happy with, but if you aren't getting your period, something isn't right. While it was nice to not have a week of cramping—and save money on tampons—I wanted to get my family started, and this was an essential piece of the puzzle.
I told my doctor how I love to run, and that exercise is a big part of my self-care routine, which she completely understood and supported. She simply explained to me that the intensity and duration of my workouts were most likely causing my amenorrhea (recognized as exercise-induced amenorrhea).
We talked about taking out the interval training and cutting my runs down to the 3- to 5-mile range as opposed to the long runs I was doing each weekend. I wanted to get back to normal more than anything, but I won't lie; I was nervous about cutting back on my workouts!
It's been six months since that appointment, and I am now in a routine of running three times a week, 3 to 4 miles each time, at a steady state pace, and lifting for roughly 30 minutes, two to three times per week. In total, my weekly hours spent training went from around six to three, something I would never have done on my own.
Here's what happened.