“I don’t bleed because I play sports.” Sound familiar?
There are many reasons why your flow could be at an all-time low (or quite frankly, non-existent). And, if you want to learn more, feel free to check it out here. As the conversation around women’s menstrual health continues to take stage in a society where we were encouraged to keep our bleeding patterns quiet, more and more women are recognizing the inconsistencies with their cycles. And, if you are an athlete, it’s actually way more common than you may think. That doesn’t make it a good thing, but at least you know you’re not alone.
The numbers will shock you - an estimated 25 percent of female elite athletes have reported chronically missing their periods. And if that’s not enough for ya, an estimated 69 percent of athletic women have experienced some form of missing their periods as compared to 2 percent to 5 percent of women in the general public.
So, what’s the deal with your lack of flow?
Period on Pause
Let’s start with the basics, There’s a medical name for that paused period, sound it out with us, a-men-or-rhea. Amenorrhea!
There are two types: primary and secondary. For right now, we’re focusing on secondary amenorrhea. This is identified as one of the following scenarios:
· you used to have regular periods and then stopped having one for 3 months
· you used to have irregular periods and then stopped altogether for 6 months
Secondary amenorrhea is associated with a larger medical disorder known as the female athlete triad. Sounds like a mouthful, but trust us, this is important for all those active babes out there.
The female athlete triad affects three interrelated body functions– energy levels, menstrual cycles, and bone mass (we know, who knew?). The main cause of the female athlete triad is likely due to an energy imbalance. This results in symptoms like excess fatigue, irregular periods, and ultimately, bone loss. A female athlete can have one or all of these to be diagnosed.
We totally get it. Competing feels like do or die, and if you’re not doing everything in overdrive, then you’re not doing enough to win. While that mentality can lead you to that WIN you’ve been working toward, the combination can sometimes cause an insufficient level of energy, often because you are not getting adequate nutrition for the amount of exercise you do (like hitting the coffee machine for breakfast, lunch and dinner). Ultimately, your training regimen can put you at risk for the condition. Do we really hate needing another reason to eat more?
But, you are performing well without ever getting your period, so isn’t it a good thing, you ask? Keep reading, girl!
Time to Get Serious
A common misconception is that athletes perform better without a period present (not sure who came up with that crazy sh*t). However, there are just as many studies that say that performance does vary throughout the menstrual cycle as there are studies that say it does not. So, it is BEST to get your body working the right way (ahem, having a monthly visitor)!
Everything is super intertwined when it comes to our bodies. Ultimately, missing a few periods can have a long-term impact on many areas of women’s health including bone, cardiovascular and sexual and reproductive health due to the lack of reproductive hormones released during menstruation.
1. Bone Health
Estrogen is needed to help build strong bones. Women achieve peak bone mass by age 30, those who miss their period before this age may not ever achieve their maximum bone mass, leaving them with thinner bones and putting them at increased risk for bone injuries like osteoporosis.
2. Cardiovascular Health
Without sufficient estrogen, needed to help protect the heart, there is the possibility of lasting effects including higher cholesterol levels, heart attacks and decreased dilation in blood cells and vessels in response to blood flow, which can contribute to coronary artery disease, diabetes and more.
3. Sexual & Reproductive Health
Although less common, the lack of estrogen can bring about infertility and the thinning and drying of the vaginal walls, as well as breast shrinkage (umm, hard pass on that).
Our Good Friend MONA
Bring on those reproductive hormones you are lacking from missed periods including homegirl estrogen and her bestie prestrogeon.
With your on-the-go schedule and your hypersensitivity to the things you’re putting in your body, seed cycling is a great tool and easy starting point to help stimulate menstruation.
If you don’t get your period, use the moon as a guide to seed cycling. Start Phase 1 on the first day of the new moon. When the full moon arrives, this indicates you should start on Phase 2. Or, to make it even simpler, start phase 1 on the 1st of the month for easy tracking. No one needs to complicate life anymore.
The Last Lap
Not all women or bodies are the same!
Seed cycling is a great way to start regulating your hormones and promote menstruation. However, we recommend consulting a doctor if your periods stop. The most important change needed for your body to resume menstruation is matching your energy intake and output.
Over time your period should gradually begin to make its way back. According to some studies, it can take 6 to 12 months after making the changes to your lifestyle for menstruation to resume.
Remember, your body is what carries you to victory. Love her, nurture her, and give her what she deserves.