No period for two years

I am a 19 year old in college. I ran varsity cross country all through high school. Now I do my own runs, ranging typically 4-8 miles, 5 or 6 days a week. I LOVE RUNNING! It is the one thing I am really good at, my times keep getting better and better. I feel better than ever while I am running. However, it has been 2 years since my last period...

I have undergone blood tests (I used to be anemic) and pregnancy tests, but no abnormalities with blood and I am not pregnant. The doctors have been trying hard to evaluate what could be causing this and it all points to running. I am 5'5 weighing about 121 pounds, BMI of 20. 

Recently the doctor suggested to decrease/stop running (as much as I can without going crazy) due to exercise induced secondary amenhorrea. I realize this is probably best long term because of the risk of lowering my bone density…It's such a challenge, mentally especially! Who has been through this? Do I need to stop running completely, or just decrease miles/intensity? Any advice?

Thanks!

Comments

  • Hi Lisa,

    Gaining a few pounds would help IMHO.

  • Exercise induced amenhorrea is very closely linked to weight and energy intake - if your body mass is below a critical level (which varies for each individual), your body suppresses hormone production. This is more linked to energy deprivation than exercise levels. But of course these two are intimately linked image

    So gaining a few pounds may regulate your hormone levels enough to kick start menstruation. This doesn't necessarily mean reducing the amount of running you're doing, but you would have to increase the amount of calories you eat to compensate. A better approach may be a small reduction in mileage AND an increase in dietary intake. 

  • I second the above advice.

  • I would also look into others way of coping.a 19 yr old shouldn't feel that they have to run and run to stop themselves going crazy.

    this doesn't sound a healthy relationship between you and running......obviously there could be lots of iother things you could be obsessed with that would be much more dangerous to you..........but any obsession isn't good and should be addressed before it gets to late.....

    good luck

  • I'm not by any means "obessed" with running. I really enjoy it and am thankful for my abilities. I have a balance to my life where I easily find joy in other things as well.

    I am merely wondering if I need to give up running in order to get my period back?

  • I think you missed the common theme in all the advice regarding putting on some weight.
  • Lisa - there is no reason why you should need to give up your running, particularly if it gives you such pleasure....

    However, no periods does seem to suggest that something about energy intake/ body mass/ exercise is not quite right.

    Your body is finding a way of preventing you from becoming pregnant as it doesnt believe it can adequate nourish it...

    Do you eat well to fuel your running? Would your friends and family think you eat well, or do they think you should eat more?

    Easing off the mileage for a bit, and fuelling better, and maybe only gaining a few pounds should see your periods return.

  • ps....have you lost weight with your running?

    What was your weight when the periods disappeared?

  • Hi Lisa, if your doctors think it is to do with running and energy intake they are probably right. However, my sister is also slim like you and had very irregular periods throughout her twenties - we always assumed it was because she needed to put on weight but actually she has polycystic ovarian syndrome (she didn't have the other common symptoms such as weight gain, excess hair growth etc.). So it is just one more thing that might be worth mentioning to your doctors. It is quite hard to test for so can be missed, I think.

  • Thanks for all the advice!

    My friends and family all think I eat too much! My mom often jokes about me eating the house empty! They realize I am an active person and I take jokes lightly, so they always cater to my hunger. 

    All through high school (age 15-18) I weighed about 115-117. Now I weigh 120. I have never had much weigh fluctuation besides winter/summer weight of a few measley pounds. When my period disappeared I was about 118 pounds. 

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