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Running and Periods.

The Hungry Runner Girl: Running and Periods.

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The Hungry Runner Girl: Running and Periods.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Running and Periods.

Time to be 100% honest mkay and it is probably way too much information but I think it is something we need to talk about because I can't tell you how many emails I have gotten from woman experiencing the exact same problem!!!  This is a topic that is never really discussed in the blogging/running/fitness world but I think we need to!

So brothers, dad and ANY students that have found my blog somehow.....time to push that big red X in the top left hand corner of the window okay:)

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When you run a lot.  You can lose your period.  If your body fat percentage is too low.  You lose your period.

When I started training for my first marathon I lost about 4 lbs but the fact that I was running like a cheetah (give or take 30 mph slower) I lost my period.

(I am that creepy girl that tries to be funny as she is running and do the robot for Billy at the same time. 7 a.m. is a little early to open your eyes, it wasn't until mile 12 that I finally woke up.)

DSC 3969

It was 14 months ago that it went bye bye and believe me I may have taken at least 12 pregnancy tests but it was gone because of increasing my mileage.  At first, I thought.....awesome.....free birth control and no awful side effects of cramps, acne, bloating.  Okay, so only the cramps disappeared but anyways, I know I am a health teacher and I know better than that but remember that little human emotion called denial....yeah, I had that big time.

'But the elite athletes don't have any body fat and they must have their periods right?!?!' Actually, I have NO idea what is going on with those ladies (next time I see Kara I will make sure to ask her:) but I know for me I WANT BABIES (don't worry not for a while) because I am going to be a rockin' mom and I can't wait for a little WIlly Jr.

6 months of no period and I called my bro that is an emergency room doctor (okay, I guess he can read this because he already knows the details).

His advice- Run less and Eat more.  I think you all know that I eat more than a football team at Chuck-a-rama but I was not willing to run less.

Side effects of no period:  Bone Loss.  Crap.   Evil eye below.

IMG 0105

The reproductive system is the FIRST system to shut down when your body is under too much stress.  WARNING. WARNING. Something isn't right....either too much exercise or too little calories or BOTH.  Our bodies crying plea to slow down a little.

So, what am I doing now?  Working with my doctor, gaining some poundage (another topic I can't wait to discuss), taking estrogen and we shall see what happens. I know that was way too many details but you do have the choice to exit out whenever you start to feel awkward which is probably 97% of my posts.

I am turning my femur crackage into a blessing in disguise.  Kind of like a wake-up call.  Time to get these bones strong and my body at a healthy place so that I can run forever!

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Any experience with these things???? (Please make me feel not alone and if you don't I just may have to delete this post because I will be too embarrassed:)

What did you/are you doing to solve the problem?

What are some other side effects that your body has had when you are running a lot?

-Tired, tired oh yeah and exhausted:)

Do you think birth control messes with your running performance?  What are some of the side effects that you have from birth control or estrogen?

-I have very little experience here (I wasn't really running that much when I used to be on it) so please fill me.  I do know that it makes me even crazier than normal.  Poor Billy.

168 Comments:

At May 4, 2011 at 6:50 AM , Anonymous Cyndi @ Weightless Life said...

I've heard of this happening to people, but it's never happened to me. I'm glad you're on the path to get everything fixed. BC made me crazy too, I was so happy when I got off of it even if it made my body all wonky for a while.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 6:50 AM , Blogger Mamarunsbarefoot said...

Um... I've NEVER lost my period when running. It's only 2 days but I'd love to be able to say that Iost that much body fat!! I hope your leg is feeling better!!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 6:55 AM , Anonymous Rebecca said...

I've been running for years and never lost my period, but I know my body can't take running over 60 miles per week (I get lethargic, sore and mean), so I don't know what would happen if I pushed it further.
I think we have to find the magic mileage for our body and focus on quality over quantity if we want to stay healthy and strong.
Good luck!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:00 AM , Blogger ash said...

I've heard of it happening, both in athletes and in girls with eating disorders. In both cases, there is an over-exertion of the body and a lack of calories involved, so I'd assume that has a lot to do with it.

I think my trouble with it comes from the opposite side of things- when I'm on my period, I get all sluggish and don't want to do anything, much less exercise (oh the cramps).

p.s. I had frozen yogurt for the first time in a long time last night, and it made me think of your posts. :P

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:00 AM , OpenID thevitaminbee said...

When I was running (sprints not distance) a lot in HS, I lost my period for a few months but as soon as summer break came around and I was running way less and with less intensity, it came right back. I had very little body fat at the time. I havent had the same problem with endurance running but I think its because I stuff my face at every opportunity! But it is really common so dont feel alone!

My side effects from running are my husky feet, tiredness, and extreme hunger. Haha everyone at my job is appalled at how much I eat during marathon training! I also had stress fractures in both of my legs from lack of calcium in my diet and overtraining. Not fun.

I take birth control and dont think it messes with my running performance at all. I've tried a few and like Seasonale the best (you only get your period 3x a year which is awesomesauce for me) bc I dont have to deal with all of the period side effects that would make me not run. Plus this BC didnt alter my moods at all which is a huge plus!

Sry if that was an overshare at all! Thanks for this post, I definitely think people should talk about it more!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:01 AM , Blogger Christina @ The Athletarian said...

I'm lucky to not have experienced losing my period, as I got to a point in my life where my body fat % went down to 4% (according to one of those scales which may have been slightly off, but probably not by much). All I did was run and bike for hours a day even when I wasn't training for anything and I was limiting my caloric intake to max 1000 calories a day. I'm definitely not there anymore and every day is another step in the right direction.

I was also always tired and weak when I was running so much and I didn't want to do anything but sleep when I wasn't working or working out. Sleeping for me was a way to not have to think about food. It was crazy, I know that now. I still run a lot but I try to make sure that I understand now that food is my friend :) Good food makes us good athletes!

I am on BC and I have been for about 5 years. It has had no side effects. No weight gain, acne, bloating, mood swings, nothing. The only time I ever feel any effects is when I skip a day and have to take 2 the next day. I will sometimes get headaches, but that's it!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:02 AM , Blogger Running Ricig said...

I haven't had this experience, but it's good to hear you're figuring things out! I am, however, always tired. Since I started running a lot, my bedtime has reigned in from about 10-11 to like 9:30 tops. It doesn't help that I have a dog that forces me to walk her at 6am.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:04 AM , Blogger Courtney said...

Birth control really inhibits muscle growth. :( I love muscles, especially mine, but have to work harder than most to maintain and keep my muscle. I don't have any negative side affects from birth control: it controls any hormone/mood changes, I have better, clearer skin, and it even prevents my periods, I only have 1-2 a year. It's a great pill! Hope all is well. You're an inspiration, so I hope this all works out for you!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:04 AM , Blogger Liz said...

I've had this same problem on/off again for about 5+ years. My mom had the same when she was younger and running. My doctor has said it's okay, but I think there probably comes a point in time when it isn't. There's probably only so much that those caramel calcium chews can do to help bone loss...

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:04 AM , Blogger MrsQ318 said...

I've been on the pill for about 2 1/2 years now and haven't noticed any weird side effects from my running. I did just switch from seasonique to ortho tri-cyclen lo because I was WAY too moody (like, to the point of not functioning) on seasonique, but I don't know if that was related to my running or not (finishing up my first pack of my new pill and all is well, so maybe it was just that specific pill).

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:06 AM , Blogger the real LC said...

Love these posts because it's important to feel like you're not alone, especially when there are hundreds of other ladies out there with the same issues as you! I've also lost my period when I've been running over the last 2 years and there doesn't seem to be a magic mileage number. It comes and goes and sometimes it's nice and then the reality hits that it is important to get a period once you start thinking about having kids. I recently left a position where I was working in an infertility clinic which made that fact all too real with so many women struggling to get pregnant. While I'm not thinking about kids at this point in time, it is still important that you stay on top of your reproductive system no matter what. You are totally not alone---if you're on BC, it makes things more predictable, which is kind of nice, especially with running. BC also allows you to recognize if you're missing a period or not...not that it's just late, but that maybe it's just not coming this month because of weight loss/running/etc, but I know it's not for everyone! Just know, you're not alone!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:08 AM , Blogger Lindsey@arunningtale said...

Thank you for bringing this topic up! I was on birth control until 7 months ago so I got my period regularly BUT then I stopped bc (it gave me nasty nasty headaches) and since then nothing... not a thing. Since there is so many wonderful blogs out there I know this is "normal" for runners and have discussed it with my doctor too. Right now I have not made any steps to bring it back because of marathon training, running less isnt an option! But this summer my goal is to work hard at this because like you I would love to be a mommy one day :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:09 AM , Blogger Siobhan @sio 'n the run said...

I love your health insights and that stunning picture of you with an evil eye!

I can't say that I have had any experience with this problem. The first thing to happen to me when I am over-exhausting myself is getting a fat lip and/or fever blisters. It's pretty crazy. But it really is great advice to know for when I start to crank up my mileage to run my first 30K in August and possibly the Toronto Marathon in October.

And don't worry- my crazy has been kicking into high gear ALOT lately! And then I just remember the words of my good friend Marilyn Monroe, "Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."

Happy Wednesday, friend!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:10 AM , Blogger LAPT said...

Not all birth control is the same, and each brand/type has different levels of estrogen, etc. I went on one birth control pill that made me cry EVERY DAY. FOR THREE MONTHS. As soon as I figured out the connection, I switched pills (I'm on a low-dose generic called Apri) that works great and doesn't affect my emotions! I never lost my period, even when I did actually suffer from anorexia (barely 100 pounds junior year in high school). However, I know it would have happened eventually.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:12 AM , Blogger Tia said...

This happened to me in high school and half of college- until I did something to fix it! (I was also running a lot of miles and did not weigh much.) Basically, I would not have a period for the entire season and as soon as our last big race was over my body would let myself start. I didn't see a problem with this for a few years but after talking to some of my XC teammates in college, I learned that my body needs me to have a menstrual cycle for many different health reasons. So, halfway through college I started a low dose birth control pill that helped "regulate" me until I was not racing competitively (in college) anymore. Fortunately, this experience didn't affect my ability to have kids later in life. I now have 4 little ones ages 6 and under!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:15 AM , Blogger 2 Running Chix said...

This happened to me when I increased my mileage & lost some weight. It was very frustrating because I couldn't find answers anywhere & I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I didn't have mine for 5 months, and the only explanation the dr. gave me was my weight was on the lower side. He tested all my hormone levels, which were fine, so he put me on birth control. I took that for 1 week and was miserable...sick to my stomach all the time. I immediately stopped taking them & dr. said maybe that would be enough to spark it on it's own. I gained about 5 lbs. in the next month (not running as much & the holidays), and got it the following month. I've been regular ever since & am running more miles than I ever have. The only explanation I have (for myself...not for anyone else), is that I needed a couple more pounds on me. I struggled with the small weight gain because I thought it would slow my running down, but I'm running faster than I ever have & feel strong. I know you'll figure out what works best for your body!
-Sarah

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:15 AM , Anonymous PoweredbyPeanutButter said...

This happened to me not that long ago, I lost my period for around 6 months (which I was in some ways pleased about because I get the worst period cramps every month) as each month wore on, I decided that it just wasn't right so I decided to get it checked out. After numerous tests and blood work which showed up little, I decided to cut back on my mileage and increase my calorie intake, after a few months I had increased my body fat percentage and my period returned and my cycle has been pretty steady every since. There are times when I still wish I wasn't getting it because it was so much easier than dealing with these awful cramps every month but ultimately it showed me that my body was under far too much stress and I wasn't looking after it as I should have been.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:17 AM , Blogger ihatepickleslikewoah said...

I lost my period for almost 2 years from having too little fat. I was like u....in denial of all the bad effects of it. And when i got it back, it honestly was very very tough mentally having to battle the "im fat" voices. Ya knlw?
BUT ive got a healthy baby girl and am soooo thankful for those extra pounds it took to get her here!! :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:21 AM , Blogger Rachel McPhillips said...

I haven't had this happen, but I have my share and someone else's body fat percentage. I will tell you, I HATE birth control. It makes me a crazy person. Seriously. I snap at people for no reason, get irritated easily, bloat, and the list goes on. My husband didn't want me to take birth control, which is how we ended up with two kids in our first 3 years of marriage. :) I have tried oral BC, the implant- worst idea ever- and now the ring... I don't dig. I have been off the ring for 4 months and then started it back this month- I am a crazy person.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:23 AM , Anonymous Kim - Lovely Vino said...

I lost mine for several months to a year, but ironically is was before I became a runner. I worked out much more than I do now, though, and weighed 20 pounds less than I do now (I am currently 5'6" and 115 pounds). Yes, there was something wrong there, and medically I also had an undiagnosed thyroid problem which can cause fertility issues. Once I put on a few pounds things became normal again. I do have to wonder if that caused lasting damage to my bones that contributed to this hip fracture.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:26 AM , Anonymous Pam said...

You have very pretty "evil eyes!!"

This has happened to me for the past 7 years. Somestimes I'll experience a "cessation", skip a month or two(the most) but, it always comes back. I've successfully had 2 beautiful boys in between (2006 & 2008). When I knew that I wanted to have more babies I cut way back on my running and ate more fat, drank more milk, orange juice, etc. After my first trimester I resumed running again and everything has been fine since. Sometimes my period will be off by 2 weeks but, that's about it. My highest mileage week has been 72miles. I do notice that when I run more it throws my cycle off. But, now I'm healthier than I've ever been. I eat better (no deprivation going on over here!!), take my vitamins and drink milk!

I hope this helps Janae! I know that you are going to be a wonderful mommy one day!! :)

BTW I sent you a e-mail w/a couple of pics from last night!

Have a great Wednesday!!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:26 AM , OpenID kellexplainsitall said...

I lost mine in college, so my doctor put me on birth control so that I could start getting it again. It's been almost five years since I started bc, so I have no clue if I'd be getting it regularly now. I am much healthier than I was then, so I'd like to think I would.
However, the original bc that my doctor put me on made me insane. I cried for an entire week and then just quit them cold turkey. I think my body is used to this one, I haven't had any major issues.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:27 AM , OpenID katierunsthis said...

This is a great post and I think it is certainly something that more women wishing to conceive need to consider.

I was in your EXACT same position about a year ago. About a year ago, I decided to start training for a marathon...oh, and a duathlon at the same time. I was running and biking like a crazy lady. Thanks to watching what I was eating, I was also able to drop some serious pounds. As all this other stuff was going on, I was also trying to conceive.

After erratic periods (sometimes I'd have it, sometimes not), I went to my doctor who told me the same thing...run less, eat more, and get my body fat percentage up. Hating the idea completely, I finally gave in.

And, well, packing on an extra ten pounds must have worked. Today I'm 14 weeks pregnant and still running as often as I was before...just shorter distances and a little slower. :) At some point, you might just have to give in and do what the doc tells you. They do know a thing or two. Best of luck to you!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:28 AM , Anonymous Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life said...

I don't think that I run enough to have that happen to me, but I am currently dealing with this issue after going off of birth control a few months ago. Yeah...still waiting! I'm glad you posted about it so I could actually say something. I have too many of my husband's family members who read my blog, and they definitely don't need to know about my personal deets! ;)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:28 AM , Blogger Angie said...

I think your injury is a blessing in disguise. I hate it for you but hopefully you can get back on track with your monthly blessing :). I have been an athlete my whole life, played basketball in high school & college, had verry low body fat, but I have never lost my period, I have always had the worst ones ever...like cant' get out of bed, painful, hunched over pain. So, I've been on BC since I was like 13. Its wild how everyone is so different. I hope you get all straightened out very quickly!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

After stopping birth control, i never got my period. Unfortunately, blood tests showed some hormonal imbalances that are making it hard to conceive (low estrogen). I'm cutting back on running and trying to gain body fat to see if that helps balance things out...Good luck!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:31 AM , Blogger MotherRunner said...

Great post Janae - these are tough issues. When my % got too low and I lost my period, I totally felt the same as you - hey, no period! But now, they're back, and I have polycystic ovaries, periods that last a month (or longer), and it sucks. Not sure if there's any correlation... but I'm not ruling it out.

I do not use hormonal birth control - something about it just doesn't seem right to me... I was on it for a few years (pill, patch, and ring), but I always felt like I was messing with something that shouldn't be messed with. You're very in tune with your body - you could try natural family planning.

The weight gain thing is hard man... but your body is a machine, and this is what it needs to do to be a super awesome machine. I bet you'll find you feel stronger, more energetic, and FASTER with a few extra lbs.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:32 AM , Blogger The Hungered One said...

I wrote a paper on this topic way back when. It is not "normal" for anyone - runners included, to lose their period. It might be common, but it shouldn't be thought of as normal. As you said, it leads to bone loss, which leads to osteoporosis - and who wants that before they're 60? If you want to keep running and not letting your body slowly destroy itself, you need the estrogen. If anyone is experience a loss of their cycle they should see a dr. ASAP.

All birth control is different. So, if you experience a problem with one, all you have to do is tell your dr. about the problems you are experiencing and they can give you a higher/lower dose or different brand altogether. There's plenty of options out there :) But don't think you can get away without some kind of change in your diet, too! Pounds are important!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:33 AM , Blogger Lisa@The Daily RUNdown said...

I've never had it happen to me. I've only been running around 8-9 months and I started after my daughter was born. So up until March I was nursing (no period while your nursing) I've had one since. I am on birth control but it's an IUD so no hormones, so I don't think that affects my moods at all. I cannot do the pill, I am already a basket case.

I know a lot of women probably wish their periods would stop or their body fat would dip that low, but it is a sign that something isn't right. In today's society it is so hard to accept you may have to *gasp* gain weight but it will probably help your running as well.

Thanks for posting this topic, it's very informative. Everyone is so obsessed with weight loss, it's nice to actually show there is another side!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:33 AM , Blogger Sarah said...

This happened to me! I went to my doctor (who is not a runner) and she told me I was fine and as long as I was on some sort of birth control, the pill would 'cycle' for me. I thought it was weird when I walked out of her office because she was not concerned, and a few months later, BOOM! Stress fracture. I went to a sports internal medicine doctor and she did a bone scan and it turns out I have osteopenia. At the age of 26! So I had to gain weight, take crazy amounts of calcium and vitamin D, increase my body fat percentage and train a little smarter. Less miles, more cross train. That was two years ago. I feel exactly like you.... what I though was a life shattering injury was a blessing in disguise. I know you will get through this with flying colors! You are amazing!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:34 AM , Blogger Chunky Monkey said...

At my lowest weight I lost my period for a few months. Like you I thought it was a celebration. LOL 6 mths is a long time though. Time to flush the system. (eww)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:35 AM , Blogger Trisha said...

Thank you for talking about this!!
I lost my period for about 2 years due to overtraining & underfueling (I dealt with disordered eating for several years), and then developed a sfx in my pelvis. It was horrifying at first because I couldn't run at all and it took about 2.5 years to fully recover from the sfx, but it was a blessing in disguise, as you said.

During that time, I gained some weight and took control of my disordered eating and I finally got my period back! I never thought I would be so happy about it, but to me it signaled that my body was healed.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:37 AM , OpenID drkgood said...

I wrote a really long response and then the blog monsters ate it when I hit post. :( Will come back later to try again.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:38 AM , Blogger Britt said...

Your honesty is wonderful. I had a problem with this last year as well. I started running as a teen and have always had my period until last summer when I upped my milage by oodles. I was like you and thought that this was kind of an amazing thing and though I do know the long term side effects, I wasn't willing to decrease my mileage either. I'm 5'3 and was 112 lbs, then my weight dipped down to a shocking 105 and my body fat was lingering around 15%. It wasn't until I started to have issues with my stomach in the fall that I decided that I had to get the situation under control. After a terrible race, stomach pains, and wondering if I was pregnant or just missing my cycle became too much.

It took several months for me to get my act together both mentally and physically. I decreased my mileage for several months and had to put on about 5 pounds, both of which are scary for a runner. But I came to terms with it all and realized that I want to be a forever runner and not a right now runner. Besides, who cares how much I weigh or how I look in a bathing suit? These factors no longer define who I am.

So thank you for sharing because it is hard enough being honest with yourself, let alone the entire blogging world. Keep your head up girl and your heart strong, while your situation may stink right now, in the end it will make you that much stronger.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:43 AM , Anonymous kate said...

Thanks for sharing Janae! I've definitely had a similar story. I lost mine a couple years ago when I was restricting my intake (especially good FATS!) too much. I wasn't exercising excessively, but I wasn't eating enough. The years passed and I got 1-2 periods a year usually in the summer when I didn't have time for exercise with a busy job. I saw my doctor and a gynecologist and my hormone levels were normal but they said it was likely due to my weight and I just had to put some on. Now, I am training for a marathon and put some weight and muscle on and am definitely at a healthy weight for my height, but because I'm running so much I still haven't gotten it. It's very frustrating and scary. When the marathon is over I'm going to take some time off from running and really focus on getting it back. It's been too long and I'm scared of causing too much damage.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:44 AM , Blogger Rachel said...

Way to go for being open!!!!! As I was reading this blog post I felt as though I was having a flashback of 7 years ago! Ok so open book right?...... So the Dr had told me when I got a check up that there wasn't any way I could have children at the time it hit me but not as hard as it should have! I kept working out just as hard and was way to skinny !A few years let's just say 3 years of no period ps not a good thing at all! It hit me holy cow what am I doing this isn't just about me..... This is about my future posterity! Then I got nervous I did exactly what your Dr brother told you to do with lots of praying for A. Forgiveness for not paying attention to this amazing body that we have been given in the way of life I did give thanks in the way that it could move and workout but not in thinking about those amazing little babies And B. Help from Him because I really needed it it's not easy changing. At first im going to be straight up with u it was really hard to see a few pounds come on but i knew that it was the best thing ! A total side note but my husband meet me when i was trying to gain this weight and get my body back to normal. He met me at the heaviest i have been ( in a swimsuit for the very first time and he was in love!) its so sad how girls minds can be so mixed up on what true beuty is!There was lots of tears and lots of time on the
knees temple and truly focusing on getting my body back to normal tons of self talk but it happened I was blessed with children and I'm totally crying typing this but they are the best thing that has happened to me!!!! I am so glad I had a wake up call and caught it soon enough! You are doing exactly what you are supposed
to!!!! Thank you for opening up it's so good that you are able to help so many girls in so many different ways! It's a gift that u have!:) loves

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:50 AM , Anonymous Jessica said...

Have you had a DEXA (DXA now - a scan of bone density) done? I lost my period for 14 months due to too much running. I've had two stress fractures since. My hip is pretty solid, but I have osteopenia in my spine.

I got my period back by putting on some more fat, eating fat in my food again, lowering my running mileage and taking BC for a few months. I went off the BC about a year ago and have had a natural and fairly regular period since. I hope this is good news for my bones!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:50 AM , Blogger Nicole said...

Birth control makes me crazy! I can't wait to be married so I can get off it or atleast have an iud or something. I have never lossed my period and although it sounds unhealthy, I'm jealous!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:53 AM , Blogger Kelsey said...

Janae I'm so glad you posted this. I have lost 130lbs over the course of 4 years and have been running for a year and a half and I lost my period eight months ago. I am 5'8, weigh 170lbs and maintain around 20% body fat (crazy how our bodies can be, eh??). I enjoyed not having my period for a while, then I got concerned enough to visit my OB/Gyn for the first time and of course she put me on birth control.

My diet is full of protein, fruits and vegetables which is what I'm wondering is the problem. The tum tum doesn't respond well to dairy and processed foods...but I eat what my body needs. Since being on BC, I get really nauseous and have had really bad headaches lately. It hasn't slowed down my running much, just forces me to listen to my body more! Thank you for talking about this issue, I love you and your blog THISMUCH!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:57 AM , OpenID littlecollegevegan said...

For 8 months out of last year I didn't have a period. It was because I wasn't eating enough and was always stressed out. Eh, yucky time in my life:( But I bounced back....and you will too!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:02 AM , Blogger chacha said...

so, I've never lost it but I think I was travelling down that path earlier this year. My periods got shorter and well, friendlier (less cramps, nearly zero bloating), and I was like, "sweet!" Except that that I started having the worst acne of my life. Like, frankenstein, crazy cystic acne bad, have to wear make up everyday even at races to cover it up.

Started taking a whole slew of vitamins and a Saw Palmetto (which mostly is used for prostate health, but is a testosterone blocker). Acne is better, but, put on 3 pounds, period is back to its normal annoying, crampy, heavy self. Race times, well, have been suffering. Not sure if it's related to this. But the acne is so much better, so I'm willing to make the sacrifice.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:02 AM , Blogger gloryrunning said...

Just wanted to say....LOVE this post. I totally think this is a common problem for runners. Thanks for sharing about your journey with it, Janae. You rock my face off =)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:09 AM , Blogger Laura said...

Birth control only masks the problem! Docs telling people to go on BC because they aren't getting periods is wacko. If you are having period with birth control that doesn't mean much really.
I have had this problem in the past, when I was too thin. Also when I do too much in mileage (running or biking) i sometimes skip one. But it goes back to normal once I reduce mileage.
It's not worth it to me to be a little bit thinner and not have periods- after a certain age you have reached the point where your body can no longer increase bone density.
If you are underweight or even on the low end of "healthy" weight, you should probably eat more dietary fat + increase weight by a bit... sure my BMI would be considered "healthy range" at 18.5 but I certainly wasn't healthy at that weight. Often all it takes is 5-10 lbs.
Good luck! It's so hard to deal with. I also got sfx but fortunately the bone density test came back with normal results.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:17 AM , OpenID marathonmaiden said...

i think it's way more common than people talk about. it definitely happened to me when i was training really hard in the past. i'm on the pill now so i get my period no matter what and i need to constantly keep this in mind each cycle because i'm being pumped with hormones. when i first moved into the "real world" i lost my period for a month because of stress and, since i'm on the pill, it freaked me the eff out!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:20 AM , OpenID antosdoeslife said...

Agreeeeeeeee completely! I am training for my marathon and I stopped my birth control and was having this problem. I've cut back on my mileage (due to an injury) and have been eating a house everyday and now my period has finally returned after a 3 month hiatus! YAY!

Awesome post girl. It's never too personal because someone out there is going through THE SAME thing! :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:24 AM , Blogger Angie said...

It happened to me once for about 6 months, as a nutritionist, I knew why, so I just upped my calories and healthy fats and eased up on the running a bit and it came back. I think the longer people let it go, the harder to get it back, but that just from witnessing others go through it... Ive also been on BC FOREVER, lol. (was on it then too), and I have done fine on it. I cant really say if it affects my running since ive never really been off of it... If you take calcium supps, split them up bc the body typically cant absorb all that calcium at once. Have a great day beautiful!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:25 AM , Blogger [Red Sox] Wife said...

I lost mine for a few months when I was down to a scary low weight in HS (but I wasnt worrying about being prego back then!). and BC made me CRAZYYYYY so we switched to non-hormonal barriers (tmi??) and it worked amazing for us until we decided to try and BAM got prego the first try. i would never go back to BC pills again. they were terrible.

and i have a colleage (you may know her) teaches health and all that... hasnt had a period that her body has produced (only a handful started by drugs) in over TWO YEARS. She's trying really hard to get pregnant, but keeps losing the babies because she's anorexic :( its hard to see her go through that because she wants to have a baby so bad but you know.... denial is the name of the game! thanks for this post, i was looking forward to it!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:29 AM , Blogger Coy Martinez said...

I never lost mine but it did become extremely light. I already had given birth to three kids though so I'm not too worried. I have the bone density of an elephant, I wish I had tiny legs like yours so I could be faster.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:31 AM , Blogger Charissa Steyn said...

I know this may sound funny but everytime I get my period I REJOICE!! It is my little sign that I am healthy. I lost my period for a couple years due to an eating disorder...it was one of the darkest times of my life,but God healed me miraculously...so thankful! Now 10 years later, I am a healthy weight and am running regularly. It sounds weird but i can tell God prompting me when I need to eat more and when I need to run less. He helps keep me in balance... and I want to glorify Him in my body and stay a healthy weight and be 100% woman :) But I am definitely not saying I'm perfect..sometimes I don't find joy in eating certain foods, and I over analyze my eating...i run too much and eat less when I'm stressed/anxious about something...

anyways...that's just me.
I'm also taking 2 months of the pill right now for some extra estrogen...haven't noticed too much of a difference with how I feel running wise.

Keep on trusting the LOrd girly- He will heal you.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:36 AM , Blogger Erin @ UntilYouTri said...

Well, I definitely don't have the first problem, my body hangs on to its remaining fat like a life raft:/.

I've always wondered what effects my birth control might have on me. I've thought about going off of it for a while, but then I'm not sure what I would do to replace it;). I wish I had time to read all the comments on this post, I bet they're awesome!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:42 AM , Blogger Zaneta said...

Janae... thanks for this post!!

Right now... My period has moved from a 28 day regular cycle to a 35 day cycle...

when i was in high school... i lost my period for about 4-6 months (can't remember how long exactly) It was the whole summer.... I was running, and playing ball, and not eating properly...

I've always tried to maintain equality with my working out and eating healthy since then but I think I'm dangerously close to losing it again... I'm not exercising as much but I do have a lot of added stress right now with work, school, and the wedding coming up next month...

It's nice to know that I'm not the only one that has some issues in this area...

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:45 AM , Blogger Jen said...

I've been an off and on runner in the past (but permanently on since last month!) so I haven't lost my period due to running. But I lose it every time I travel abroad. I studied in London for a semester and it took months after coming back for it to start again. And I was definitely eating enough while there, I gained 10 lbs :). I volunteer in Ethiopia every year and never get it there either. I don't feel stressed out, but obviously the change in environment is a stress on my body.

By the way, your evil eyes are beautiful! :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:50 AM , Blogger Amylee said...

I was concerned about this about a year ago when I wasn't having a period either. However, I have an IUD (Mirena) that can also cause you to lose your period. Every once in a while I might spot, but it's hardly anything. I talked to my doctor and he basically just said to make sure you are eating a lot and eating snacks and replacing calories after runs, but besides that he said not to worry about it until I was ready to have more kids. When that time comes, I will probably have to stop running for a few months so I can get my period back. So, there you have it. You'll be fine. Don't stress too much.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:05 AM , Blogger Missy said...

I'm so glad that you posted this, because I totally had this happen to me but I don't think it was because I was running too much, I think it was because I increased my fitness level (which I'm sure is the same) the funny part is that when it happened,I wasn't currently in a relationship and when I told my friend that I was 2 weeks late, she was telling people that I was having a Jesus baby lol Anyways I'm glad that you posted this, maybe I need to eat more!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have the female athlete triad- undereating/overexercise (I know you think you eat a lot but you eat very low fat for the amount of exercise you do), amenorrhea (loss of period), and bone loss (ie stress fracture). This is a very serious problem, so it's a good thing you're working with a doctor. I'm not trying to sound harsh but I have a PhD in psychology so I know that this is a big deal. You may have infertility problems, especially if it continues. Some people can maintain your level of exercise and stay healthy, but they eat a TON of fat and calories and back off when they feel it's necessary. Anyway, good for you for seeking help and realizing that this is not normal. You don't want to get another stress fracture or cut your running career short by this!!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:10 AM , Blogger Stefanie D. said...

Since having my Little babe, I am finally back to having my period (did you know you don't have a period while nursing?? I had no idea until my Dr. told me)and even though I'm taking my birth control regularly, Aunt Flow's gift likes to come and go a couple times a month. It's ridiculous. I didn't have my period for over a year while I was prego/nursing. It was great. But that is to be expected, and my body is trying to get back in it's groove. I think...I hope. bi-monthly periods have got to go.

Anyway, I haven't ever lost my period from running. So I really don't have a lot of advice. Sorry! But, it sounds like you are working with your doctor and trying to do what is best for your body.

I haven't had a lot of problems with birth control, other than it seems to have becreased my bra size, and I have trouble sleeping the first week I start over a new month. So as far as running goes, I don't think it messes with my performance too much. Yaaay. I honestly think it calms me down. Weird? I have heard of a lot of women who have a really hard time emotionally with it, and some who get flat out crazy. Good luck! I hope it all works out for you.

Sorry for the super super long comment. :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:10 AM , Blogger Rene said...

This is why I love you - there's no such thing as an overshare. My baby-making equipment is so screwed up (endometriosis) but I have yet to loose my period. I know this is a good thing but I bleed so heavily that I hate working out at all during the first day or two of my cycle.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:13 AM , OpenID lovelymissanne said...

Thanks for sharing girl! I lost mine when I increased my mileage and lost weight. I started on BC and gained some weight and it was back to normal. Its never too personal-- chances are we all have or know someone who has experienced the same thing. Have a wonderful day :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:13 AM , Blogger Julia said...

i have heard of this happening but have not had the experience yet. and I have been taking BC forever (like since I was 11) so I really have no idea if it affects me or not. When I went to college I gained like 30 pounds and they thought it was my BC and switched me....haha. maybe it was just the 4 dinners I ate? and the pounds of candy I snacked on? oh wait...that hasn't changed. okay...sorry that I am not really helpful in adding to the topic. i suck. but i thought it was really interesting that losing your period can affect your bone health...eeek. that is definitely scary. thanks for the post!

i liked seeing you this morning! have a wonderful day!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:16 AM , OpenID catiepat said...

This post came at the perfect time for me.
For the first time ever I just missed my period. And I'm on birth control... I'm training for a marathon but I really don't think I'm running a crazy amount and I still eat tons of food... I called my doctor and she wasn't worried about it at all. I'm still confused. (took a pregnancy test.. that was fun... not)
I used to dance competitively in high school and always got it. So why now?
I haven't lost a lot of weight either, so I really don't know why I would miss my period. I guess if I miss it again I'll go to the doctor and be like HELLOOOO WHAT'S UP WITH MY BODY!?

Thanks for the post, good to know I'm not alone :-)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:17 AM , Blogger Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner said...

I've lost mine :( I haven't had one in 16 months, but the docs can't figure out why...I don't workout overly much and eat tons...!! Thank you for posting this though, makes me feel less 'alone' in this situation!!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:20 AM , Blogger Rachelle Wardle said...

AHhhh Janae thank you for bringing this up darling. I definitely pull the big fat denial card when it comes to this subject. I lost my period in college for two years due to anorexia. I worked hard to get it back but now that I am running high mileage I have lost it again for over 9 months now.

I am not underweight and my body fat percentage is completely normal but yet I still completely lose my period when running high mileage. My Doctors have told me it is because of my history with disordered eating. :( Luckily I am not trying to have a baby right now but I know that I will definitely face problems in the future.

Sorry this is getting so long but I just wanted to say thanks because this helped me to realize that I really need to face this problem and not just live in denial. Love you and have a great day!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:21 AM , Blogger Joanna said...

Birth Control messes with my body a lot. I've been on it for years and have tried several types to see which goes well with my body. I've had weird side effects like, double periods, short periods, long periods, going half blind, cranky, bitchy, CRAZY moody....ugh being a woman sucks!

Last year I took a bone scan and they discovered that my bones were not in good shape. They actually recommended that I start running to build stronger bones!

I'm praying for your health and leg to get better soon!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:23 AM , Blogger Ashley said...

Good for you for taking steps to correct this. If you want a Little Billy eventually, you'll need a period. ;)

As for my experience, I saw my doctor to refill my BC prescription (been on it for about 7 years). She told me that, based on my 45mpw, I was probably ammenhorreac, even though I was getting a period on BC. I don't even know if that's possible!

But no, you are not alone. And this isn't too weird to talk about ;) It's good that you are turning this injury into a positive, healthy experience for you!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:27 AM , Blogger Neon Blonde Runner said...

Great post girl!!

This is part of why everyone loves you, your openness and honesty is inspiring :)

I've never had a problem with it because I haven't ever had such low body fat percentages.

I take seasonale to help me keep a regular cycle, it's nice because it only happens four times a year. So if people want an easy way to have less frequent cycles, try seasonale.

I had heard that birth control affects running performance, here's a short article on it from the Livestrong website:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/321839-running-birth-control-pills/

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:28 AM , Blogger Leauxra said...

Honestly, even if it is inconvenient, I feel like it is a monthly check that all systems are "go". I NEVER lose my period... if I am super stressed, it gets delayed at the most a couple of weeks, and then starts back up (usually if I travel, it waits until I get on the plane to start, my period is sneaky like that).

It sounds like you eat enough, but do you have enough fat in your diet? It isn't just the calories, your body needs an extra boost when you are working out a lot... just a thought...

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:36 AM , OpenID healthycollegegirl said...

Girl I've totally dealt with this. I lost my period when I started running a lot last summer and haven't had it since. I've heard a lot of mixed messages about this...my doctor acted pretty nonchalant about it and simply said that my periods would regulate once I stopped running as much. He did suggest that I add more healthy fats into my diet (I'm a total carboholic) so I've been trying to do that...but still no period!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:36 AM , Anonymous Alicia said...

Confession. I did not have my period for 2 years. I have never been regular since I started which was late, in highschool but I got it at least every 4 months or so. Well then I didn't have it for a long time cause of running and just working out in general. I kept putting off going to the doctor but I finally did and they gave me some pills to take which was supposed to start my period.. well it didn't. So I put it off again, I mean I liked not having one I guess but it was stupid. So they made me take the pills again.. notta. Well then last year they said I had mild displasia and cysts on my ovaries but it just has to be watched and I have to go back for paps more often. I still don't have a regular period AT ALL but I think I'm doing better than I was in those 2 years.. please slap me on the wrist! You totally eat enough btw but everyones bodies are different, I wonder about the elite athletes too.. oh wait that includes you and me. duh. :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:37 AM , Anonymous Terry said...

this is a great topic! i was super athletic in high school, playing three varsity sports. i never lost a period in high school, but i wasn't ever regular (probably because of all the activity). i also ate whatever i wanted without any regard to weight or health because my metabolism rocked.

fast forward to college, whole different story. i spiraled into an eating disorder and lost A LOT of weight, mainly muscle. my athletic build turned to twiggy. i didn't get a period for about ten months. my big wake up call was when i tried to donate blood and the nurse said my iron was so low i should see a doctor immediately. i had to go on a prescription to boost my iron levels for a few months. my period eventually came back, and i was very relieved.

i started birth control a few years ago when i was dating my first boyfriend. i was regular, but my periods weren't always heavy. regardless, i had a period, but i was worried about how i had treated my body that i wouldn't be able to have children. i met my current boyfriend who i know i want to have a family with, so i shaped up and learned my ways to eat healthy and exercise regualarly. my body fat is up and my iron levels are steady.

and on a last note, i hate birth control. i really do. but, it's just something i can't give up right now, lol.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:43 AM , Blogger Lindsay and James Cotter said...

WOW Janae! thank you for your honesty. I am pretty sure we are all in the same boat at some time or another. I got off birth control this past winter and the doctor siad it could take at least a year for hormones to realign and find balance. Not to mention, my body needs fat. Its a humbling experience and one where I think we all need to lean on each other for support. So thank you for doing that! Lets get aunt flow in town, haha! I just had to!
LC

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:44 AM , Anonymous Holly said...

Whoa Janae...guess what?! I JUST did a post about this same topic this morning! Crazy!!
Great minds think alike ;)
I did experience the loss of period..actually for all of my high school career, due to the insane amount of miles that i was running for cross country & track..and then not eating enough to go along with that. Bad decision.
Thankfully, my period DID come back...
but last month I lost it & I was freaking out. I had no idea what was going on...and I was on birth control..and got my period every day, the same time, every month. I decided to take a pregnancy test..just in case, thankfully it was negative. I mean, don't get me wrong, my fiance & I want kids...really soon, but we'd like to wait until we are married. (hey, it's less than a month, so I think we can do it:) )
But then I got to thinking & realized HOW hard I was working out- TWICE a day. Crazy, intense workouts twice a day was NOT the way to go..
so, I cut back to just one workout a day. But I make sure to give it EVERYTHING I have. For me, one crazy intense workout a day is perfect!
Thank you for posting on this too! It's nice to know that we can relate :)
xoxo

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:51 AM , Blogger Emily @ eat.drink.run. said...

thank you for posting about this janae! i'm sure it was a little uncomfortable to start this, but i think its SO important for women to know about this and understand it. i've lost my period twice - once for about 9 months (no baby i swear) in high school and that's because i definitely was not eating enough and didn't have any fat in my diet. that was quickly fixed by all the greasy caf food in college though! then i lost it again when i was training for the boston marathon last year. i lost it for 3 or 4 months, and i wasn't really concerned bc i figured it was due to the extra running. i was certainly eating more than enough (half the fun of training is all the extra pasta you can eat!) but i should have probably talked to my doctor about it. once i ran the marathon and tapered down my training, the monthly beast was back!

thanks again for this post - its helpful to read and a good reminder to take care of ourselves!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:57 AM , Blogger Nicole Wagner said...

hmm...so I haven't lost my period AT ALL?? so which is it? either i'm not running enough or I have too much body fat?;);) shoot!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:58 AM , Anonymous Alyssa @ Life of bLyss said...

OH Janae, am I an expert at this subject.

Okay, maybe not an expert, but I have for sure had my ups and downs with the BC.

I first went on the pill because my body fat was too low, and as a result, I'd go 6 months with no period. I was a senior in high school. Once I took the pill, my appetite skyrocketed (and never went down.. heh) and I gained a quick 25 pounds. I also got boobs. ;)

THEN, starting last year (after 3/4 years on the pill), I started having awful side effects from the hormones of the pill. I was NEVER in the mood for sexy time with my serious boyfriend, and the mere thought of it made me gag like an elementary schooler. It was awful, and a change of pill didn't even help.

Needless to say, I had to go off the pill this fall. And ever since, my period has been seeeeriously irregular. I've skipped a cycle, I know I'm not preggers, and I'm still deciding if I need to go back to the lady doc about it. Wah!

I'm willing to bet when my marathon training is fully underway, things will only get more irregular.

You just can't win with hormones, huh?

But THANK YOU for posting this. I wasn't brave enough to. ;)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 10:09 AM , Anonymous jamie said...

I have much experience in this...I have only had about 12 cycles in my life due to exercise (over) and low body fat.. I am 35.. .However I also have 4 beautiful kiddos. When it is time to have a baby I take it very serious...I cut back on the exercise and eat more...I usually have to gain about 15 to 20 lbs. #3 years ago I tried for over a year to concieve my 4th baby. I had to gain the weight and take Clomid to get things kick started. My daughter was then born scary premature...I blame myself, once I passed the 14th week I was back to my old exercise craziness...I regret it so much...(she is healthy and beautifully smart) My children are the most important sacred thing in my life... It is not fun mentally to let go of things we turn to for coping but SO worth it....

 
At May 4, 2011 at 10:25 AM , Blogger Trying To Heal said...

oh man, call this issue my middle name. when i first got my ED i lost my period for 9 months because i had lost so much weight and not eaten enough (though not the same way you lost your period, but similar) i started taking hormone pills, estrogen and testosterone. it didn't help my period come back at all because in reality all i needed was my body fat back.

i know that i royally screwed up my bones during that time (i was 17-18, when my bones are at their prime development age) so who knows what condition they're in now.

my suggestions: skip the pills, EAT EAT EAT. you have to get your body fat up to a level that your body specifically needs to be able to function correctly. some people find that hard to hear because they think they're gonna get fat, but it's not the case. I gained enough weight to still feel good about my body and gain my period back!

And even though I've been on BC since I was 18 (25 now) i have had it in no way affect my running. it actually helps because i get the worst worst worst cramps and it keeps them at bay, but even though i take it, when my body fat gets too low, "Aunt Flo" will disappear and i know i'm not eating enough.

wow, that was a novel. sorry!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 10:29 AM , OpenID lolzthatswim said...

I love my period between swimming and running and they were convinced I had caught the pregs. I went through 5 pregnancy tests and finally the doctors realized that I truly was that active.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 10:36 AM , Blogger Amanda said...

I lost my period for about 6 months and at that point I decided I NEEDED to get my period SOON because it's really unhealthy not to have it. I'm only 18, so I went to the gyno for the first time and she said it was most likely because of the combination of weight loss (20 pounds-healthily!)and starting college. She gave me a prescription of progesterone. I took 5 pills and two days later my period came back! I had mixed feelings about it...but I know my body is back on track. I'm still waiting to see if I get it again but if not I will have to take the progesterone again. I just hope my cycle will get back on track! Estrogen is made by body fat, so without the fat the estrogen is not made and it screws up your whole body. You may think the first problem is the loss of your period, but you most likely have other symptoms of low estrogen as well. Good luck!!!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 10:52 AM , Blogger Chels said...

Been there done that! Around the age of 21 I lost my period until the age of 26. I was underweight and overally active. At the age of 26 my weight had settled and bam, here comes my period. I am now 28 and notice that when I lose weight or start running more miles it tends to go away. While I was training for my half just about two months ago I lost my period. I was not eating enough and running many miles more than needed for a half with my past experience. As soon as I took a week off from doing anything physical at all, I got my period back!
I too worry, I would like to start having kids in another year or two and I dont know how easy it will be for me.
I know that when I was overtraining, I did not listen to my body at all but as I look back I had all the signals. At least three nights out of the 7 I would lie awake till 2 am trying to get to bed, my blood sugar levels went out of whack, I was soooo moody, I would cry over anything and of course exhausted.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 10:53 AM , Blogger Mon Amour said...

I hope you get everything figured out. That is kinda scary

 
At May 4, 2011 at 10:58 AM , Blogger Mrs. JM said...

typically i like to read all of the comments above mine before i post but i'm short on time so i apologize for any potential redundancy. i've *heard* that a loss of period due to low body fat will eventually result in early menopause. i have never experienced myself though. i'm glad you're working with your dr. that monthly flow, as annoying as it is, happens for a very important reason.

p.s. crystal light is coming out with an aspartame free drink! i've always avoided it because of the aspartame. maybe i'll try it now. or just stick to my favorite water.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:02 AM , Blogger misszippy said...

Yeah, never had that happen! Doesn't matter how much mileage I am doing--I have enough fat cells to prevent that problem. But yes, be smart and put on a few lbs. to help your bones and overall health. You'll be glad you did and so will Willy Jr. someday!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:02 AM , Anonymous Kayla said...

I haven't had my period for almost 2 years! I don't even know what is up with me. I guess I still have time for it to become regular.

It's not like I'm training for a marathon and have really low body fat, though!

Janae, it must have taken courage to post about this, so thanks for opening up! You are awesome.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:07 AM , OpenID fitchocoholic said...

I'm actually going through the same thing....its been a little over a year, I think. I'm mostly just trying to put some weight back on, and hopefully my period will come back....

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:10 AM , OpenID fitchocoholic said...

I'm actually going through the same thing....its been a little over a year, I think. I'm mostly just trying to put some weight back on, and hopefully my period will come back....
Thanks for posting!1

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:11 AM , Blogger Holli Marie said...

I lost my period when I started my playing college soccer. Since then it has occasionally come back but is definitely associated with my intensity and training load. Since college I have become a triathlete and the training only gets longer as the 70.3 gets closer.

When I am overtraining I can definitely tell in my mood and fatigue levels. Luckily I get so short with my boyfriend and annoyed with my classmates I am able to pick up on when I need a couple days completely off before it's too late.

My doc put me on BC in college to be regular, but I hated it. I just didn't like the way I 'felt' while I was on it. After much blood testing and bone density testing we decided it was fine and many elite athletes are in the same position. FYI I don't like taking medicine/drugs be it otc or prescription and I think psychologically having to take a pill everyday wasn't good for me either. I'll probably be that person that tries to give birth au natural.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:24 AM , Blogger my little celebration said...

Yes! I've totally had that same issue. I lost some weight after gaining some in college and experienced the same "loss" shall we call it. I was prescribed medication since it wasn't considered "healthy" for me to gain back the weight and now all is under control. I'm right there with you though! I want to have babies, too!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:32 AM , Blogger Thisisme said...

You're not alone and NOT crazy! I get 2 months into running and lose mine. I'm on beyaz now and it regulates it all very well!!! (;

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:34 AM , OpenID alovelyglass said...

just found your blog and i think you're adorable!! i can relate in similar ways, but not exactly...and like you said, health/future fertility is very important when you wanna eventually have kiddies! sometimes gaining a few extra pounds is exactly what we need, ya know?! we'll look and feel better, and we won't be as cold all the time! amen?!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:35 AM , Blogger trailmomma said...

I lost my period for a few YEARS, yes, years and thought nothing of it. It wasn't due to too much mileage. I have Celiac Disease but at the time didn't know it. So I was steadily losing weight and nutrients and obviously fat. I can't blame running (I was only running 3 to 4 miles a day if that). But of course friends/family "blamed" running and tried to intervene etc.
Regardless, I lost my period in college and then years later met and fell in love with my now hubby and shopped for birth control essentially (my OB was thrilled I think to finally get me working on having my periods back) AND I also was finally diagnosed with Celiac and was working on the diet.

RE: BC though - I must have gone through HUNDREDS of different pills/types as some had me going crazy, crying and just the affects were terrible. I finally ended up with the shot which I loved. It was easy and fullproof and left me with no side affects.

Happy to report I was able to go on and have a wonderful Peanut (now age 3) and am pregnant with #2 (due in a month).

If you want kids (even if you're not sure), don't mess around. I think this fracture is the best wake-up call you can imagine. Too many of my friends have fertility issues stemming from years of abuse on their bodies. I am glad (and lucky) nothing like that happened to me. Now, if I could only turn back time and use sun screen on my face instead of baking like a potato in the sun! HA

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:46 AM , Blogger Hannah Berg said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:49 AM , Blogger Hannah Berg said...

I have the same problem! I take birth control pills and now I am back to normal! My doctor said she can put me on something else when the time comes when I want kids.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:50 AM , Blogger Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

You have recieved a ton of feedback on this post! I love how honest and open you are AND the "learning" spin you put on your injury. Our bodies constantly communicate to us don't they?!

Yogurtland should sponsor you in your next race 1) you keep them in business (he he!) 2) Yogurt=calcium=strong bones=Janae PR!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:58 AM , OpenID movesnmunchies said...

SO SO SO GLAD YOU talked about this!! I ALWAYS wondered how crazy good runners like you could still have all the functions workin-- i feel ya on the lost period.. BEEN THERE done that.. NO FUN

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:59 AM , Blogger Reese's Runner said...

Get fixed little skittle (my new nickname for you, you are welcome)! And I've never been near having a body fat % problem. Of course, I'm sure if I ran as much as you and ate as healthy I might! Anyway, thanks for sharing I know a lot of girls go through this!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:10 PM , Blogger Rebecca said...

Thank you so much for posting this! There seems to be a taboo against talking about this issue and I, for one, completely freaked out when I first lost mine due to running. I still haven't managed to get it back.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:12 PM , Anonymous Marci said...

Losing your period when exercising alot is usually blamed on all the exercising. But that in itself is sometimes correlated with inadequate nutrition (sometimes intentional for weight loss, and sometimes not). I believe the major culprit for losing your period is low body fat, and not getting adequate calories and nutrients.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:31 PM , OpenID hungry-dancer.com said...

I can see how this happens, you are an extreme athlete! I've never experienced this but it's good that you got a health wake up call! We want a strong and healthy runner girl!!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:31 PM , Blogger Crystal said...

I lost my period my senior yr of HS (8yrs ago) because of eating disorder mixed with too much running. They put me on birth control and shipped me off to BYU (believe you me... the health center was sketched out with me haha).

Anyways, whenever I go off the pill I don't get my period.. like ever. I have gotten my eating up to a healthy place and my weight is healthy. A few years ago I was actually overweight and inactive and the same thing happened. I finally found a good balance with my exercise and weight... but I am still having the same problems. Humph.

I am currently working with an infertility specialist. I asked him about my running and he told me that unless I am running 70+miles/wk he isn't concerned. So we will see. I just want to be a mommy too!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:38 PM , Blogger BigHappyFamily said...

I lost my period too. I ended up taking some estrogen, then hopping on the BC pill to keep the cycle coming. Just like you, I was no like, "no period? Awesome! Wait a minute ...." Lived in period denial for about a year before seeking out treatment. Rest assured, I had no trouble conceiving when I went off the pill.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:39 PM , Anonymous Kate said...

I have lost my period twice (and I'm only 18.) The first time was at the age of 16, when my IBS came to a head and it soon came back aafter I started eating better and taking care of myself.
As of late, I've been period free for 15 months (and counting) thanks to a combination of various stresses, exercise bulimia and being underweight. Even though I am well back to a healthy weight, it still hasn't returned and my friends blame running (even though I was only running about 15 miles a week...)
One month ago I sprained my ankle and have been forbidden running by my doctor. So I am finally on pills to get my period back. I hope it works because I would LOVE to have kids (not now... But in like a decade...)
I hope everything works out for you! I love your blog and don't worry, its still as awesome even on your running sabbatical :)
Kate

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:39 PM , Blogger Lindsey said...

You're so awesome, and have a great attitude about your fracture! So glad you're getting things workout out before any damage was done! I've heard of this happening alot, but I've never had it (of course, ha!)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:45 PM , Anonymous Ellie@fitforthesoul said...

such a great post, for reals! Hmmm I'm not sure how I can help really. But for 2 years, my period's been uberly irregular and sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't. Sometimes it's very light flow as well. like, 2-3 days very light and it'll stop. I'm not a crazy runner but I'm very active and work out quite a bit. God bless ya and may everything turn out well and healthy for you guys!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:46 PM , OpenID drkgood said...

I'm back!! And thanks for being brave enough to post about this. There are probably lots of people who want to ask about it or talk about it but are too afraid to ask.

I have never gone without my period from running, but it has made them very late on two particularly big times. The first was when I first started adding on miles to train for a marathon the first time. As a result, I surprisingly ended up pregnant with my son. God has a sense of humor. The other time was when I finally got around to training and actually running that marathon years later. After the marathon this year it took me a long time for my cycle to come back. It is a big sign of physical stress on your body, and we have to pay attention!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:46 PM , OpenID drkgood said...

Obviously Deena and Kara must not have this problem since they have babies. I imagine it is because their bodies are used to the training, they are fueling correctly, and as we know Kara says most of her runs are EASY effort runs and not HARD effort runs. At this point I laugh knowing that Kara's easy effort would land me in a grave, but I think learning this lesson from these two amazing women will help you achieve the balance you need in your training as you move forward.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Side effect of the pill? Well it kind of made my period vanish..stopped taking it last July and since then..nada! Have been to doctors, all hormones are in working order, no funny levels but it's got to a point now where I'm not really enjoying this! I used to moan when I did have it and now I'd give anything just for the reassurance of having it back! Have been told to check everything again in the summer if it's still playing hide and seek..However I don't want to run less - and my body fat isn't particularly low and I'm definitely eating enough...Wish I'd never gone on bc!
And I'm so glad you wrote this post - it's nice to know there are other people out there in similar situations.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:47 PM , OpenID drkgood said...

Sorry for all the comments, but I think Blogger was mad when I tried to post too much at one time.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:49 PM , Blogger Margs @ Faster Bunny said...

Hey Janae,
So nice of you to be honest about all of this and write about it! I have had this problem too and I've almost never been out of the range of a healthy BMI. I think for me what helps, it's a combination of eating, running moderately...but also WHAT I eat (making sure I am eating calories with protein, nutritional value) and minimizing other stress that is going on in my life.

My (uninformed medical advice) is to take care of yourself in all ways and experiment with getting enough sleep and eating foods with fat and protein and you might be able to still run the milage you want to when you're healed :).

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:55 PM , Blogger Running Mama said...

Important topic!! Good for you for discussing it. I don't have 'Aunt Flow' any more so I don't have to worry about that, and I doubt I'll ever run so much I get bone loss...but you never know so thanks for the input. Also, thanks for stopping by my blog and giving me advice on the whole scale thing!

runningtobeskinny.com

 
At May 4, 2011 at 12:56 PM , Blogger Meghan said...

I've had issues with this too! I didn't get my period at all until I was 16 (okay now THAT is TMI) because my body was over worked and over stressed. When I finally did get it, I got it every 6 months for like 2 days.

For me personally, being on birth control makes me CRAZY and messes with other parts of my life too. I just don't respond well to it at all. Instead, I worked with my doctor to stay on a high-cal diet and I started taking a bunch of vitamins and herbal supplements that he recommended. Now I'm 19 and I get my period every 28 days to the HOUR. What's awesome is that I'm still working out the same amount, I just have to make sure I'm diligent with my pills or I REALLY feel it because the supplements also help with my wacked-out emotions. If you want to know more let me know :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 1:03 PM , Blogger Jen said...

I'm always so impressed with your honestly and willingness to share what you're going through so that others can learn too. I've never had this problem most likely because I've got enough body fat to sustain me for weeks and haven't trained hard enough because I like to get injured before that would happen. Seriously though, I'm glad you found the cause and can figure out ways to heal. Your future running career and little kiddos will thank you for it! You're gonna come out so much stronger for this.
I've experimented with different kinds of birth control and found one that works for me without crazy mood swings and such. Well at least I think so! My skin looks so much better with it that it's worth it for that alone!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 1:14 PM , Anonymous Crystal said...

This post comes at a great time for me. While I’m not a runner I am a yoga teacher, and gym rat. About a year ago I was experimenting with a raw diet and totally screwed up my already wonky cycle. I was going 3 months between periods. However once I started to eat normally again things went back to normal until the past 2 months. I am once again missing my periods- again the freak out and take a million pregnancy tests with negative results and I have no idea how long I should wait to call the doctor. Last time I had this issue all they would tell me to do was take the pill which I’m not willing to do unless absolutely necessary- It’s nice to know that other people are going through the same issues.. Thank you for your honesty :) Heal quickly!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 1:25 PM , Anonymous Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife said...

Happened to me-lost it for 3-4 years! Yep, eat well, run less (do some yoga, etc., swimming--it helps!!)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 1:26 PM , Anonymous Paula @ Eat: Watch: Run said...

I've never lost my period. But then again, I've never not eaten enough. Eating too much is my problem! I work out a lot but I don't think I've run as much as you have. Or at least enough to effect that part of me.

As for BC - I've been on it for SO long that I wouldn't know if it was affecting my running or not. I am sometimes tempted to get off of it to see how it would affect me. I'm assuming it would be in a good way!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 1:44 PM , Blogger Chicago Cuisine Critique said...

Great post!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 1:45 PM , OpenID gagagrapefruit.com said...

i am seriously obsessed with you in the LEAST creepy way as possible, i swear. you just make me smile, even when you're talking about periods! you just have a great way of making these awkward and uncomfortable topics seem as normal as talking about which shoes to buy (still jeal of those nike frees) xoxox J, you're da best!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 2:00 PM , Anonymous janetha @ meals and moves said...

Oh, I suppose I could be the 117th comment. I lost my period for over 6 months! And I wasn't running a lot. And then it came back on my wedding night. How fitting.

Anyway, I liked this post. I like you!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 2:12 PM , Anonymous Meg said...

Hi Janae,

I hate thinking about this, because I haven't had a period in 10 years - since my junior year in high school. I upped my exercise and lost a few pounds (nothing drastic, still in the healthy range) and it just stopped. I waited ten months before approaching my mom and meeting with my gynecologist, who put me on low dosage BC. I have been on BC ever since.

It makes me uncomfortable to be taking medicine when the side effects aren't completed known. That being said, I wouldn't want to risk getting osteoporosis either, especially since it runs in my family.

I am getting married in just over one month and am nervous about "family planning" (that's what we call it at my school) and whether I my period will come back when I cycle off the BC.

My gynecologist said we'd wait until my fiance and I are ready to start trying for kids, and then see what, if anything, needs to be done to trigger those periods.

Thank you for talking openly about this. Keep us posted - we women need to share info!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 2:17 PM , Blogger XLMIC said...

This is such an important topic. I am so glad you brought it up AND are addressing it in your own life.

When I was training seriously and competing on the elite level in rowing, my body fat never got too low as to cause amenorrhea. I was training between 3 and 6 hours a day, 5-7 days a week. I was super skinny-looking but I have big boobs... so maybe that was a good fat store or something. I did have really bad PMS back then, though, but periods were every 29 days.

Over-training in both rowing and running has led to exhaustion... major ass-drag... and moodiness.

I think that anything that monkeys with your body's natural abilities to balance its hormones is going to have trickle-down effects that may act on your athletic performance.

If your hormone-therapy (be it b.c. or something else) is making you feel crazy, tell your doc. They need to make an adjustment of some sort. They CAN change the meds for you.

Loving how hard you are working at being healthy :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 2:21 PM , Blogger Natalie said...

Thank you so much for writing about this! I'm currently a 17 year old high school junior (and long distance/cross country runner) who still has yet to get her period. Yeah, I know. My doctor isn't that concerned because her daughter is also a cross country runner and she was a late bloomer too, but I think I'm starting to be a WAY TOO LATE bloomer. And it's definitely because my body fat percentage is too low because I got mine taken and let's just say it was not enough. I'm trying to eat more, but it's so hard to cut back on running even though I know that's what I have to do! I mean, to be 17 years old and not have gone through puberty yet... well... let's just say I hate looking like a 12 year old boy. :(

 
At May 4, 2011 at 2:43 PM , Anonymous Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn said...

I was NOT running as well when I was on birth control!! I have lost my period too, I hope to get it back soon! Perhaps I'll have to do the estrogen thangalang too:(

p.s. I DID A POST ABOUT MY RACE now you can know ever little detail!! Love you babygirl have an awesome hump day!!!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 2:54 PM , Blogger Em said...

I'm so so glad you posted about this! I haven't had my period in a year and half, and I really need to start actively trying to get it back. I used to be a really high mileage runner, but I injured myself over the winter and cut back on the running. I kept working out at a high intensity too though, and I still haven't gotten it back. I go to Stanford, and the added stress of school might also make the problem worse.
I know it's really bad to think, but sometimes I feel like not having my period means that I'm a really good athlete and that I'm working hard. I know I need to get out of that mentality because it's definitely not good for me!
Thanks for talking about this because it's a really important issue for female athletes!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 3:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting about this! Throughout my years of running and competing I would stop getting my cycle for random periods of time. My body fat and weight has always been pretty low and sometimes when I was doing the most mileage and at my leanest I would get my period. Then, sometimes when I would be tapering or resting I would stop getting it! It always seemed really random but I think that when I was eating enough calories and especially enough fat and very aware of eating well, I get my period. When I was not as careful about what I was eating (usually when I was taking a break or not training as much) I stop getting my cycle. Now, if a miss a month or two, I simply increase my fat intake and it usually comes back....even if I am running 90 miles a week!

In college it always seemed that the teammates of mine that lost their period where the ones that were restricting their diet or just not eating very balanced and NOT necessarily the thinnest athletes. Some of the thinnest girls ate very well and never had problems.

This is a really long way of suggesting that before trying birth control or even gaining weight, maybe just increasing your healthy fat intake for a few months. Maybe it just works for me but it's worth trying. Gaining weight never seemed to change anything but simply changing the quality of my diet seems to work every time.

Just my two cents :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 3:19 PM , Blogger sdralphs said...

Love this post Janae! I think it's a healthy topic to talk about. I have never lost my period, so I haven't really ever faced that fear or worry. I have always had a monthly period and actually like it that way. I like knowing my reproductive system is regular for me. I do know girls that skip months, haven't had them for years, and love it. I also have seen girls who have not had their periods and then decide to get pregnant and struggle. Whether it's related to their period, I don't know. I think girls who want to have children just need to make sure they talk with their doctor about their periods and where there body is at. I mean we are all different and different things work for different people. But I think it's always smart to check and make sure your body is on a healthy track!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 3:28 PM , Anonymous melissanibbles said...

These comments are just sad. I don't know why people are all "Oh me too!" Losing your period IS a big deal. You might want to ask yourself what is more important to you, being able to say you run X amount of miles or being able to have children in the future. Or you know, not die. I've been where you are so I know how hard it is to wake up and realize what a bad road you're down. I hope you wake up soon.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 3:43 PM , Blogger Life's Lyrics said...

Thank you for your post! I have been struggling with lacking a period for a while, and it really good to hear your thoughts/feelings on the topic. I would love to hear more about ways you have been able to gain weight, because I think this along with running are part of my problem. Thank you again for sharing!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 3:52 PM , Blogger Sara said...

My whole life I have never been regular. I would get it one month then miss a few months...until I got on birth control when I got married. I did have a regular period but I hated bc. I had the worst experience with it. maybe I am being to dramatic but I just never felt like myself. I decided to get off it. . best decision ever. I run/ exercise a lot. Just like you if you ask me to stop I just want to even more. I am not like you with probably the highest metabolism possible (so jealous) so I really don't think it is a body fat % being low. . . but I could be wrong! I am glad I am not the only one. Girls around me acted like I was a crazy for not always getting it.
For a long time I was not getting the right amount of fats and protein so I could understand why I wasn't getting my period. THanks for the post some one had to do it. . glad it was someone with a sense of humor!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 3:58 PM , Blogger Heather said...

Thanks for this post! I lost my period for a year after going off the pill and was running 40 mpw at the time. I eventually got it back naturally. I just focused on eating a balanced diet with lots of fat, and I was recovering from an injury and not running for 3 months when it came back. It's been here ever since. I recently decided to go back on the pill hoping it would be different this time...huge mistake! I stopped after my second pack. It affected my running sooo much it was ridiculous. I felt so discouraged and felt like I couldn't run anymore. It was just so much harder!! Plus my appetite was out of control on it and so were my emotions. Now I've been off of it for a month already, got my period and and very happy I stopped taking it. This whole topic is so very frustrating, I wish someone knew the answer.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 4:07 PM , Blogger Nick and Blair said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 4:22 PM , Blogger Nick and Blair said...

i just started reading your blog a couple weeks ago and i love it. we really have alot in common except for the whole running and eating healthy thing. But i have been really motivated from reading your stories. And who washes their hair, really?

 
At May 4, 2011 at 5:05 PM , Blogger Jenni said...

Go to www.femaleathletetriad.org for a lot of information, or just google female athlete triad. It is very often a nutrition issue - not eating enough quality calories to support what you are burning off, no matter what activity or even if one does not exercise at all. So as you increase your calories, make sure they are high quality calories, and make double sure you are getting enough protein. I know you don't want to hear this, but I would suggest replacing some of your sugar calories with protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat choices (trail mix?). Not saying you should cut it out completely, but, um, you do eat a lot of candy if you really eat as much swedish fish, sour patch kids, gummy bears, etc. as you say you do! Not judging, just caring about you and your health. This did happen to me, and when I got straight nutrionally (added protein and fat to my diet, which was mostly carbohydrate), my period came back and I actually got leaner.
I am on BCP now, and I have tried several and have found one that works for me, so chances are there's one that will work for you. I trained for and raced Ironman last year and had no problems, and I definitely made sure that I was eating enough calories, the vast majority of which came from lean protein, veggies, fruit, and whole grains. I did have treats of course! I always craved potato chips after a long, hot ride and I had them!
Good luck and don't quit until you find your solution!
P.S. There are physicians who specialize in the female athlete triad -might want to try to look one up.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 5:12 PM , Blogger Ashby Family said...

I was a competitive swimmer in college = 20 hours of intense workouts every week. I dropped down to about 12% body fat but never lost my period. Maybe because I compensated with eating everything I laid eyes on! I don't really have an answer for you because it's never happened to me, BUT my sister's-in-law are pretty thin (they look kind of like you) and they lose their period all the time but they never exercise. Maybe it's a body fat % thing?

 
At May 4, 2011 at 5:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post!! I know sooo many people who can relate to this. I train regularly with an Olympian on the track. She gets hers EVERY MONTH. If she misses a month, she very very closely examines her food intake vs activity level. If she misses a second month, she takes time off. She has been an excellent role model for me ( a former anoretic) in so many ways, but especially regarding good eating habits and body image.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 5:24 PM , Blogger Ashton + Brian said...

This is such an interesting post to me. I've never had this issue, but have known many girls that have...I thought it sounded like free birth control too! haha I know my friends that have lost their period due to such demanding physical activity (hello, runners!) have consulted with nutritionists...it took a couple of them a year to get their period again. How nice that you already have a background in nutrition! And I'm sooo glad that you recognize the issue and are wanting to get it sorted out. I want you to have kids at the same time as me so they can get married :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 5:26 PM , Blogger Ashton + Brian said...

PS if you want to start eating a lot of fat, i'll write down everything i eat so you can copy me. i've really been trying to be better though...hence the increased oatmeal intake... you would be so proud.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 5:29 PM , OpenID cleaneatingchelsey.com said...

From one period-less lady to another, I'm glad you're taking the steps to getting better. I haven't had my period since February 2010, and the doctors are finding it to be "inconclusive" which basically means they can't do anything. I also just found out that when I do want my little munchins, I'm going to have to take fertility treatments. It was a tough blow to take, but I'm glad I have it figured out now instead of waiting and trying with no results. Love you beautiful girl! Thank you for being so honest!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 5:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile but haven't commented until now. I hope that you are able to read this, even though you already have 130+ posts on this topic. Thank you for addressing this very important topic. My story -- I've NEVER had a natural period. I began running and restricting my eating when I was about 9 years old. My body never gained enough fat to produce a period or develop naturally. This eventually turned into a full blown anorexia/bulimia nightmare which has had me hospitalized and near death on many occasions. I'm now 30 years old and only get a period if I'm on hormonal supplements. My eating is much more under control and my weight is w/in healthy range, but I am now sufferring the consequences big time. I have osteopenia and recurrent stress fractures. I am in constant pain -- no joke. PLEASE TAKE CARE OF THIS ISSUE, JANAE!!! Believe me, you don't want to end up like me. I still run (cautiously) but have been encouraged by several doctors to stop. I can't. I've run 5 marathons (Boston 2010 being one) and just love it too much to quit. It's now time for me to decide which I love more -- having a ridiculously low %body fat or being able to RUN pain free. I choose the latter. Now, I'm just hoping the damage isn't already done and I've crossed the point of no return. I'm not too torn up about not being able to have kids b/c I've had a LONG time to deal with that reality, but losing running isn't something I'm willing to deal with. Please take care of yourself and feel free to email me anytime spdaydream@hotmail.com if you want to talk. xoxo Stacey

 
At May 4, 2011 at 5:30 PM , Blogger Krista said...

Janae I love how open and honest you are about everything in your blog! I've actually read quite a few running blogs where they lose their period, and I gotta say that it would probably freak me out if that ever happened! I'm glad you're turning your injury into something positive and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that soon you'll be running again!

 
At May 4, 2011 at 5:42 PM , Blogger Lizzi said...

Haha I think you actually were very restrained with sparing us the gory details ;)

A couple of years ago I was at my lowest weight (mid eating disorder + running/exercising way too much for the tiny amount I was eating).

Because I'm on birth control and therefore my periods are 'fake' anyway, I never lost them. BUT once I entered therapy/started working with docs to get myself back to a healthy weight etc, they ALL said that it was actually BAD that I didn't lose them... ie. my body was really malnourished and under SO much stress that it couldn't afford to be losing all that blood/nutrients every month.

They suggested I go off birth control, but I really didn't want to (for obvious reasons), which gave me a good incentive to get myself back up to a healthy weight where my body wouldn't be so totally deprived from having a normal period.

Now I'm at a healthy weight, still exercising like a madwoman but eating like the hulk, and I get my periods without them taking any major toll on my body. I've never experienced any negative side effects from birth control, and if anything I think it IMPROVES my running performance -- just because I don't get cramps/etc anymore, and so I feel more inclined to exercise because I'm feeling good and not in pain! :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 6:04 PM , Blogger EBURNS said...

Thank you for this post!
when i first talked to you about this I think I was looking for someone to tell me I could keep eating and exercising as I was but I could still get my period with their magic idea. The TRUTH is I must gain some weight. Thank you for believing in me because you always tell me i CAN do this.
Have a great night.
Erica

 
At May 4, 2011 at 6:14 PM , Blogger Holly said...

Thank you for this post! I love your honesty and touching a topic that I have NEVER seen on a running blog before.

I also really want to know how folks like Kara do it! Can you like become her BFF and write her and ask for us?

 
At May 4, 2011 at 6:38 PM , Blogger Jennifer said...

I love deep posts like this and you definitely did not overshare. This is a very important topic to talk about. I'm glad you're working with your doctor to get this remedied! We all want you be healthy and have no more bone fractures! Please keep us posted...even if it's awkward, like "Hey guys, I got my period!" :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 7:53 PM , Blogger athletic chick said...

I'm so glad you posted about this! I lost my period as a teenager, due to anorexia. I gained the weight back, but my periods never returned. I'm now in my 30s and the doctors are still trying to figure it out. I've also got bone density issues due to having such a low body weight for so long. Looking back, I wish I could have realized sooner that a couple of extra pounds are totally worth it to be healthy.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 8:57 PM , Blogger Heather P. said...

Great topic!! I can relate completely. Have had no period for almost three years but in the last year started taking low dose birth control to get more estrogen in my system. I'm hoping it will help my bone density and health in general. I have gained some weight and haven't been running because of my sfx and so I wonder if my period would return but I don't want to stop taking the estrogen until I know my bones are healed. That will be part of my return to running plan I think. Once I'm running strong again, I'll probably try to go off the pill and see what happens.
Weirdly, I felt more energetic when I was running alot. I think the endorphins were such a mood stabilizer for me that not running at all feels more draining.
I love how you are looking at your situation as a wakeup call and am taking that same outlook. We can learn from our trials and man, I've got a lot to learn but running again is so worth it!!!
Thanks for all the encouragement :)

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:03 PM , Blogger RoseRunner said...

yup yup, been there. I had no period from ages 19-23. Then I gained 20 pounds and a period. Simple as that! (obviously it wasn't actually that simple...)

I don't want kids, so to be sadly honest I didn't care much. I took a calcium supplement for my bones

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:30 PM , Blogger dana said...

Yep, but my prob seems to be the opposite...2 periods/month! ugh! Maybe I should eat less?? haha

No, really I have seen a doc and he thinks it's hormonal. Starting pills next month.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 9:48 PM , Blogger Lizzi said...

OH! and i cannot WAIT to read your weight gain post :)
i went through a time when i was convinced that thinner = fitter and faster and better. i am now 10kgs (just over 20 pounds) heavier and believe me.. I am a better, faster, and STRONGER runner than ever. i am seriously a testament to weight not being everything, and is absolutely NOT necessarily an indicator of athletic performance. and more importantly - it's not an indicator of happiness :) i am 8938468 xs happier now that i've got a lil more meat on my bones, and even though there are a few spots i wish were a teensy bit smaller, i'm overall SO much more confident about how my body looks and (more importantly) the amazing stuff it can DO.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 10:05 PM , Anonymous Dorry said...

You are wonderful to post this, Janae! I have a lot of thoughts about it. I'll email you sometime this week! xo

 
At May 4, 2011 at 10:50 PM , Blogger kay.tee. said...

I have been excited about this post since you first mentioned you were going to do it. Both for what you had to say, and what other people had to contribute.

At the beginning of this year I changed my diet and exercise drastically. I cut out processed food and started my marathon training. I ate A LOT of healthy food, but still dropped some lbs pretty quickly. The running was difficult and was definitely hard on my body but never seemed like it was too much. Between the two of them I lost my period for about three months. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like my body was just adjusting to my new lifestyle.

I don't take birth control, never have, so I don't have any input on that. However, I work with about 35 women and we are all pretty much on the same cycle. Sometimes when my roommate spends a lot more time at home it tends to mess with both of ours because our bodies are seem to want to be on the same cycle. It seems like environmental hormones tend to be just as influencing as taking them orally.

 
At May 4, 2011 at 11:22 PM , Anonymous Run. Learn. Repeat. said...

Thanks for posting about this! I needed this post.

 
At May 5, 2011 at 12:29 AM , Blogger Hannah said...

I started menstruating in the 6th grade, and never got into a normal cycle. They say it can take 1-2 years to get into a regular cycle, but when I started high school I was working out a lot! I was dancing and weight-training upwards of 30 hours per week. I hadn't lost any weight, but I suspect I was losing body fat (but still gaining muscle). I didn't get my period for 3 years. I finally asked my doctor about it and she didn't seem all that worried about it since I was so young. And I wasn't sexually active, so she didn't want to put me on birth control to regulate it, and put unnecessary hormones in my body. She did recommend I take a calcium supplement, and multi-vitamin though. My period never regulated itself while I was that active. It took until I graduated, and wasn't dancing as much before I started getting my period again. And it took 3 years before I was on a cycle that I was getting my period every 30 days.

I think that losing your period is concerning because it's your bodies way of holding on to every bit of nutrients that enters it. But I also think that if you are feeding your body everything it needs, and supplementing as a "cushion," and not overusing, you shouldn't worry. Adding in an extra rest day, or decrease your mileage 1 or 2 days a week, and sub out cardio for strength training 1 or 2 days, should help also!

 
At May 5, 2011 at 1:39 AM , OpenID squigglefloey said...

I think this post of yours came at the perfect time for me. I haven't had my period in over a yr -- I've been constantly stressed with school and graduating, and I've totally been neglecting my body. I'm graduating in 5wks and I really need to take matters into my own hands.

 
At May 5, 2011 at 5:00 AM , Anonymous Devon said...

Hi janae- I have been reading your blog for a while (and love it!!)...I haven't commented before, but had to about this post:). I have been a runner for over 15 yrs and lost my period from it. I'm not sure exactly when I did because I was on the pill. However, I got married and went off the pill and no period....for months!! We wanted to have kids, so I went to see a reproductive endocrinologist who diagnosed me with hypothalamic amenorrhea, basically loss of period due to exercise (or could be from weight loss, stress etc) I joined a fertility board with tons of others with this same condition so I could learn as much as possible about the condition. I really slowed down on the running and gained some weight, this seems to be the best answer for "curing" the condition. I was too impatient to wait for my period to come back and ended up doing fertility treatments - I now have two year old twins and a two mos old!! I still keep up with the fertility board and have learned soooo much from all the other girls on it!! Good luck with everything and feel free to contact me with any questions!!!

 
At May 5, 2011 at 6:37 AM , OpenID kristensfitnessnook said...

I think it was very smart of you to address this issue. I went on the pill to regulate my period bc I stopped getting mine too. Luckily I had no problems getting pregnant! Phew. A lot of people though do need to rethink their priorities when you involve babies. Thanks for addressing this topic.

 
At May 5, 2011 at 7:28 AM , Blogger Jill @ Run for the Hills said...

Janae, I'm glad you're working on it! The only time I lost my period was during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
I HOPE you can take care of it nutritionally!

 
At May 5, 2011 at 11:33 AM , Blogger Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

Obviously, I've never had an issue with that, but I still find it intensely interesting. I certainly know that the female body stops having its period after dropping below a certain body fat percentage for reasons of resource retention (your period takes a lot of energy and resources to go through).

I hadn't known about the side effects of lower estrogen and decreased bone mass. Those are interesting!

 
At May 5, 2011 at 7:42 PM , Blogger Kelly said...

oh boy, not being able to get pregnant when you want is one of the worst feelings in the world. Trust me. Because of my health issues, we "tried" for over 2 years, took pills, had shots, tests, yadda yadda..... Im glad your trying to figure out whats goin on so some day you can have kids (which hopefully is soon cuz its the best and totally amazing and wonderful) but do exactly what the doctor says. Take care of yourself. Not for you but for your future family.

 
At May 5, 2011 at 8:30 PM , Blogger RunningOnCoffee said...

As always, I appreciate your honesty! My first bc (pill) made me super moody back in college. I switched to the shot, which stopped my period (a known side effect). I didn't run prior to BC, so I can't say how it's changed my running. And I've never run with my period (aside from soccer in HS). So I'm really not of any use in this conversation... haha. I'm a little nervous to know what running will be like whenever I stop the shot, who knows if the running would help the crampiness or if the crampiness would take away my motivation to run.

 
At May 6, 2011 at 7:47 AM , Blogger Colleen said...

My doctor said that the only BAD side effect of training as much as I do is the fact that I could lose my period. Luckily I haven't (if it's truly based on BF, then I have a ton of that still so I'm good to go!). She checks with me throughout the year to make sure that I'm still "normal" in that regard.

I'm glad to hear that you are working with your doctor. And you are going to make the best mommy... someday! :)

 
At May 6, 2011 at 8:00 AM , Blogger agable said...

So glad you posted this. I recently lost too much weight too, not from running but from nursing my baby, exercising (walks in the sand while holding a 20 pound bundle of joy = major workout!), and too little sleep. I am now trying to get my periods back, but no luck yet.

 
At May 6, 2011 at 8:37 AM , Anonymous Texas Runner said...

I have lost my 'monthly' (sorry I hate that other word) for 2 years this coming June. I run 50 miles per week and I hate the idea of running less- not an option! haha I have been trying to eat more, about 5 times a day, and it is all clean food; but I can't shake the guilt... I am happier when I am smaller and I cannot come to terms with gaining weight just to get my monthly. Luckily I have not gotten hurt, but it looks like I'm heading toward birth control, which I do not want.
Thanks for addressing this because it has been on my mind a lot.

 
At May 6, 2011 at 8:48 AM , Blogger Reannan said...

Janae, I loooove how you cover these kinda of topics!!

I have experienced this when I first started running ! Its good to know that I'm not the only one!

 
At May 6, 2011 at 10:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have NEVER had normal cycles really, I have been on BC for 9 years, and I have always ran! I was always an athletic kid, a 3-season athlete in high school, and a collegiate athlete. I was put on BC when I was 16 because I was getting my period every 2 weeks! The hormones regulated my cycle, but my b boobs became DD boobs. I was having a hard time running (during field hockey and lacrosse) without back pain because of their size. (P.S. I'm short and have maintained a healthy/lowish weight my entire life....but at 16/17 my boobs were ridic for my size) So my OB decided decided we should try some other BC pills/hormone combos. Let's see, one gave me "morning sickness," one made my hair fall out, one made me gain muscle like whoa, one gave me great skin, one gave me horrible skin, on one I gained weight, one made me lose weight...it was insane. Even at my lowest weights (due to intense exercise, not ED) I would still get my period every 2 weeks. My Junior year of college I was so fed up I just stopped taking BC.

I felt like a whole new person. Anything that had been wonky (energy levels, skin, emotions, weight, etc.) all sorted themselves out and I felt great! EXCEPT I didn't get my period...like at all. After 6 months I went back to my OB...she said I really should be getting a period, but I really didn't want to go back on BC. I decided to try the ring, which was the lowest dose of hormones and probably the best I had tried. My cycle was "normal" but it was expensive, and felt like a circus game...if you know what I mean. After I got out of a serious relationship, I went off the ring and again.....felt great, no period. I went 18 months off BC and got my period MAYBE 3 times.

I'm in a serious relationship again and I look at BC as a necessary evil...I'm not trying to take chances, even though my cycle is totally irregular/non-existent. I'm on Yaz, which made my boobs bigger (running + boobs = back pain), makes me wayyy emotional, BUT cleared up my skin and made my cycle "regular" throughout training for 3 marathons in the past 8 months. I have no idea what fertility problems I may/already have since I can't seem to have a "normal" period without BC. I can't seem to figure out how to fix it despite tweaking with my diet, weight, sleep, and exercise (cutting back miles/intensity/cross-training/weight training). I've had a stress fracture in my tibia and pelvis, but they were pretty clear as to why (not taking care of shin splints=fracture, moving a sofabed yourself down a flight of stairs=fracture...this is not a sign of bad bone density).

I highly suggest doing some research and trying/tweaking things yourself (diet/exercise/natural supplements/sleep) BEFORE you hop on the BC train. I feel like I am honestly a bad candidate for BC and it has never "fixed" my problem. I know its frustrating, but clearly from the comments you are not alone. Best of luck with your lady parts!

 
At May 6, 2011 at 10:51 AM , Anonymous Erika said...

Hi Janae! I just stumbled upon your blog and am now totally hooked. Thanks for being so open, honest and funny. It's really refreshing :) Thank you for also bringing this issue to light as I feel a lot of women keep it hidden whether because they're in denial or just plain embarrassed to discuss it with anyone else. I have always been pretty irregular with my periods but when I started running and exercising a lot more these past couple years, they too stopped completely. It wasn't until my 8th consecutive month of no bleed-age that I finally talked to my sister-in-law (an OB/Gyn) to get her opinion. Her answer: "duh, Erika, you don't weigh enough. Gain some weight" Ding-ding-ding! Easier said than done. It's been a struggle and unfortunately I did have to go on birth control but the fear of bone loss and possibly never being able to procreate with my hottie of a hubbie, I've increased my fat mass a bit and hopefully gotten to the point where if I did get off the pill, the old period would return to normal. I hope you and other women out there know they're definitely not alone in this and hopefully topics like this can be discussed more often.
Thanks again and good luck!

 
At May 6, 2011 at 12:36 PM , Blogger mechaeng said...

As far as I am aware there is no short-term problems with cycle disruptions or even the loss of periods. Obviously there is a link to osteoporosis with the lack of periods but again it's my understanding that this is mainly an issue if you have a loss of periods during adolescence ( i.e. due to an eating disorder ) when the main bone-building is done.

 
At May 6, 2011 at 10:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mechaeng- that is completely untrue. If you lose your period due to overexercising/undereating, you will lose bone density no matter how old you are. It is a bigger issue during adolescence, but you can and will lose bone density and likely become infertile if you lose your period at any age.

 
At May 7, 2011 at 9:13 PM , Blogger Adrianna said...

ugh! i wrote an entire comment on this, and it erased it :(
basically, yes i know this is a few days late, but had to comment bc i'm so happy you are talking about this. so important.

i had lost my period years ago when i really went crazy w/ exercise and diet...bc i was 'getting healthy.' loved the comments from ppl, and how i was looking, but then it got extreme, and i saw nothing wrong. anywho, it took awhile, but i was able to turn exercise into fun again, start eating much better and more healthy, and realizing i needed to eat for strength and sweat for mental health, not to be skinny. but still, no period.
i finally went to a doc to get a physical when i got insurance, and she suggested taking the pill to get estrogen into my body again. other than making me a little crazy and very bloated for 1.5wks every month, i dont think its done much. in fact, i feel more exhausted and my muscles feel more tired than they did before. it could possibly be my increase in mileage and cross-training, but still...i contemplate each month whether i should refill or not...

great topic; so glad you are open and honest, and thats why your blog is so awesome :)

 
At May 11, 2011 at 4:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please get psychological help regarding your disordered eating, in addition to the medical/nutritional help you are now getting. You talk often of recovering from it, but you've gone this long convincing yourself that it's normal to not have a period?? I second the comments about female athlete triad, and the comments about how sad it is that SO MANY women on this thread have had the same issue. Eat more and exercise less! It is simply not normal to lose your period for years. Your body is clearly stressed and operating under far too low of a body fat percentage.

I desperately wish that the people around you and your husband would step in and have the courage to tell you that you have replaced your eating disorder with an exercise obsession. You might think I'm some crazy stranger on the internet, and that's fine, but it's shocking to me that so many of the comments above are all "oh, me TOO girlfriend! totes understand where you're coming from!". I agree with an above commenter- just because it's common does NOT mean it's normal, and I'm so happy you are finally addressing this instead of living in denial of the serious health issues you are giving yourself.

 

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