Running and Periods Part 2

We are in the stage of moving where every square inch of our house is completely filled with randomness.   I did accomplish organizing the fridge and pantry because that is the most important part of the house followed closely by getting the tv set up.  

Brooke is rather fond of the crockpot.  She understands how magical that little appliance is and how it somehow makes everything you put into it delicious and how it always makes the whole house smell amazing. 

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Somehow I forgot about how delicious hot chocolate is but don’t worry I remembered this morning and have been drinking it all day. 

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This is the last time that I offer this but if you come help me organize I will let you take whatever you want from Billy’s Oreo, Ramen Noodle, Belvita, Chips Ahoy stash.  

I have a feeling that my lunch today will consist of each of these items.

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You have to admit, ramen noodles are pretty good.

PS the AT&T man came and gave me internet.  All is right in the world again.  That was a long 12 hours.

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One of my most visited posts on the blog was all about Running and Periods.  

I talked about the fact that I didn’t have a period for a while and my desire to get it back and in the comments there were a number of women that had experienced or were experiencing the same thing.  I get a lot of emails about about this subject so I thought I would talk about what I learned from the experience.   Remember when I used to use at least 36 different colors in each post?

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Losing your period from being underweight is your body’s way of warning you that something is not right.  In my case (and in many other women runners case) it was due to not enough body fat and overtraining.  I had this crazy idea that the lighter I was, the faster I would be.  This can be incredibly damaging to your body when your weight gets too low and you lose your period.  These types of athletes are at risk for a decrease in bone mass which may be irreversible.  Our bone health is pretty darn important.   Musculoskeletal injuries are not fun.   

I really don’t think we talk about this kind of stuff enough and there are too many young runners out there that think decreasing their body weight/fat will improve their performance and then they end up with the Female Athlete Triad.  When I was a cross country coach I made sure to spend plenty of time talking to my girl athletes and watching for warning signs to make sure that this problem did not happen with them.   

Gaining the weight was most certainly difficult on me mentally at the time (about two years ago).  I think that the number one thing that got me ‘through’ that time and to work towards gaining weight until my period came back was thinking about my future.  Yes, I love running and it is a big part of my life but I knew that the thing that would bring me the most happiness in life was a family.

I was right about that one. 

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We need to remember that our long term health is much more important than a silly race or hitting what we think will be our best ‘racing weight.’  

To get my period back I had to increase my body fat (not just weight because you could still gain muscle weight and I don’t think that would make a big difference).  I think it took me about 3 months of really working on eating more calories and exercising less to get it back.  

I was very lucky that I just had to gain body fat in order to get my period back and I know there are a trillion different things that some people have to do in order to get it back but I am just telling you what worked for me. 

Get the problem fixed now.  Don’t wait until after your next marathon/race to work on getting your period back.  Even if you don’t want to have kids for a while it doesn’t matter, you need to talk to your doctor and get on a nutrition/training plan that will allow your body to get back to a weigh/body fat percentage that is healthy and for your period to return!

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Has running effected your period?  

Those of you that have (or are) experienced the female athlete triad, what did you do to get your period back?  Ever had to do anything to get back to a normal cycle?

Have you ever overtrained?

Who has had a stress fracture before?  Where?

Who is going to come over for an Oreo and ramen party while we unpack together?

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120 comments

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I lost my period for some time and am now working to get it back.

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When I started training for my half, it got really light. Once the half was over and I had decreased my training, it returned to normal! I will come over for Oreos but not for Ramen.. vegetarians can’t eat it, but oreos are vegan, so that’s cool ;)

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oreos have gelatin in them

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Really? I had seen a lot of reading that said that oreos were considered to be vegan (which a lot of people laughed at) because there’s no real cream in them etc., but that’s good to know! I am not vegan (just vegetarian), but I do try to avoid gelatin! Thanks :D

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Actually Oreos are vegan. Not sure what source Mary was using…
The ingredients as listed on the Nabisco website:
SUGAR, UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE {VITAMIN B1}, RIBOFLAVIN {VITAMIN B2}, FOLIC ACID), HIGH OLEIC CANOLA AND/OR PALM AND/OR CANOLA OIL, COCOA (PROCESSED WITH ALKALI), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA AND/OR CALCIUM PHOSPHATE), CORNSTARCH, SALT, SOY LECITHIN, VANILLIN–AN ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, CHOCOLATE.

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Oreos are vegan, at least in the US. I read that there are other “versions” of the oreo ingredients in Europe and other places…no gelatin in the original US version.

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Thank you so much for sharing this — truly. I had never heard of something like this happening before (possibly because I’ve only ever had male P.E. teachers and coaches, and it never came up in health class back in high school). I agree that this is a topic that really needs to be talked about way more often. I appreciate the awareness-boost.

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I have been blessed to always keep my period, no matter how hard I trained. Having kids is what has messed with mine. :-) I’m glad you were able to work through it, cause miss Brooke is so, so precious!

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was on the pill for a long time and always got my period, no matter how much i trained… got off to get pregnant and everything went normal… now im off the pill and periods are irregular ugh! I dont really overtrain though… maybe i just need more fat in my body, always been kinda skinny.

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Great post and advice. I used to be underweight and thought it would make me a better a runner. I’m seven months postpartum and have a few more pounds on me than before and I can say THAT has made such a difference in my running. I have better endurance, feel stronger, everything. Health is definitely more important than running and a number on a scale!

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I experienced this when I first started getting really into running… I went almost a year without it. Yes, a year… I realized shortly after that my overall health (like you mentioned) and the ability to have a family one day is much more important than any race. You have to look at the bigger picture.

Great post and shout out for awareness to others!

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what did you do to get it back??

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Running has never affected my period, but my sister was a runner in HS and even though she doesn’t run as much today (6+ years later), her period has never returned. It’s really good that you were able to increase your body fat percentage!

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I definitely think this is something that needs to be discussed. I have endometriosis, so running helps me to manage that, which is awesome, but you always need to be careful about not going to far.
I’m pretty sure I had a stress fracture on my lower left shin in high school. Now there’s a bulge there that I think formed to support that part of the leg and that’s the only explanation I have for it.
I wish I could come help out!! I seriously would. and not just for the Oreos :) (although they’re certainly the way to my heart. An old fling knew that very well and I was showered with oreos for months)

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I had no period for 2.5 years from this! I stopped running, only walked and did yoga for three months and ate yup and voila it came back! I am SO happy you are sharing this problem!

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It’s so good to spread the word that this can happen so women can try to avoid having to face it! It’s the hardest struggle in my life and after a year and a half with major lifestyle changes, I am still waiting for my little miracle. Girls, you aren’t healthy unless you are healthy from the inside out! <3

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I have lost my period on and off since I started running as a freshman in high school (I’m 34 now). Not surprisingly, I have had multiple stress fractures over the years, the most severe one requiring two screws in my femoral neck because I wouldn’t let it heal (overtraining and undereating). I am VERY fortunate that I was able to get my period back by reducing exercise, eating well and increasing body fat, and I was able to have a healthy pregnancy with my son, who was born in November 2011. Unfortunately, years of poor nutrition and not getting my period took a toll on my bones, and I ended up with three vertebral compression fractures a few months after giving birth. I wish I had made the choice to take better care of my body YEARS ago, and I hope women reading your post make that choice for themselves TODAY before they severely compromise their future health and happiness. THANK YOU for bringing this up and talking about your experience. I think in our culture we tend to focus WAY too much on appearance and weight and not nearly enough on true health (physical and mental).

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WOW what a personal story to share- thank you!! This is definitely all I needed to hear to help me convince myself and my friends that body fat is crucial and it is not the enemy. Thank you again! I hope you are well these days.

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Thanks – I am doing really well, and I know that considering the damage many young women do to their bodies with overtraining and disordered eating, I am one of the relatively lucky ones. It can be very hard to think long-term about how today’s choices can permanently affect our health later in life (especially related to something that seems completely positive on the surface like exercise) but bottom line – if you lose your period, that is a serious and unmistakable message from your body that something is not right. Listen to it. :)

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Hi! Can I just ask… How did you physically and mentally eat more calories and/or exercise less… all at once? I havn’t had a period for a year, and I love being active and I did/am recovering/still kinda do struggling with eating, but I have really made progress in the last few years compared to where I used to be!! It is mentally hard for me to eat more, but I still exercise. I still havn’t had my period. I really don’t know if mentally I can handle eating more AND not exercising!!!! that is just…. nuts to me…. but i know i have to do SOMETHING to get it back. I want a family in the future!!!
So how did you do it? What advice to mentally convince myself to eat more exercise less….???? Any help would be appreciated…. this post and Hungry Runner Girl’s previous Period Post have finally scared me and woke me up!!!!
Thank you so much! I am so glad you were able to be healed!!

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For me, it took therapy and seeing a registered dietitian – professionals who gave me “permission” to eat more and exercise less when I couldn’t do that for myself. And I won’t lie: it’s incredibly difficult to do mentally, but it gets harder to do the longer you are in the throes of overexercising and undereating. Depending on your individual body makeup and needs, you may not HAVE to do both – eating more or cutting back on exercise may do the trick. But our bodies do require a minimum level of body fat in order to menstruate, and it’s somewhat different for every woman (but typically somewhere between 12 and 18 percent). You could try gradually cutting back exercise in time increments or the number of days per week and/or gradually adding a few hundred calories per day and see if your period returns, but if you find yourself having a really hard time making yourself do that, please do get help from professional(s). It was a YEARS-long struggle for me and I wish I had done something sooner, but because I felt “fine” in the moment, it was easy for me to ignore the threat of long-term consequences. It is extremely challenging to go up against the mindset of being thin/fit at all costs, but it is VERY worth it in the long run.

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Thank-you for this. Really. I’ve been ignoring my own issues with this for too long and you’ve made me realise it’s time I take responsibility and take control of my health before it’s too late. Thank-you.

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Hi Janae!
So glad you posted this because I feel like it is so relevant for girls in today’ society! I had a very bad eating disorder for most of my college years and lost my period for about 3.5 years! It was scary, but at the time I remember not even caring that much because the only thing that mattered to me was working out and staying thin. However, just like you, the main thing that helped me recover was thinking about my future and the fact that I want so badly to be a mom and have kids one day! And knowing that made getting my period back way more important that just being thin or being able to run fast or far (which was hard because I am such a competitive person!).
Seeing you with Brooke reminds me so much of how my mom was with me…taking me on walks, to the park, out with friends, etc. and it makes me smile knowing that you got through it and are now blessed with such a beautiful little girl!
Thanks for this post and spending time talking about such a sensitive issue, I feel like there are more people dealing with this very thing than we even realize and so it is great to hear it being talked about out in the open!

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what did you do to get it back??

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I get my period more often when I overtrain!!! It makes me soooo mad!!! I rather get it less often. :/

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I thought I was the only one with this issue. And if I run hard around ovulation, I’ll spot a little bit during the run. Glad it isn’t rare.

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I think sometimes people just think it is a period and they don’t want to have babies now or maybe ever, so what is the big deal? And let’s be honest…not having to deal with it every month sure can be nice ;) But not having a period can cause so many problems – low estrogen, weak bones or in my case the female athlete triad triggered my hypothyroidism. I didn’t have a period for almost 2 years. And now, even though those days are long behind me, I have to take a pill to regulate my thyroid every day, for the rest of my life. Bummer.

Having that many oreos in my house would be dangerous. I think I would be eating them by the sleeve…with pb on top, of course. Or looking up recipes on pinterest I could use them in. Mmmmm. Oreos.

Good luck unpacking. I bet Brooke is a big helper ;) I wish I was there to help!

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My question that I can’t seem to get answered is what can I do to up my energy level when I am on my period, especially race days. Thank you!

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Have you tried increasing your iron consumption? Increased iron has done wonders helping me overcome anemia and fight fatigue!

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I agree- you should increase your iron intake. I have anemia and that makes me super tired, especially during TOM. However, I cannot take iron pills because they give me nausea. Even multivitamin pills (which have iron inside) give me problems. This problem is very common among women. Try to take iron supplements. If you notice that it doesn’t agree with your stomach, try with slow release iron pills. I get mines at CVS and they make me feel much better. Good luck!

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Love these posts, Janae. Such an important thing, though not anything I’ve dealt with myself! I struggle with the other end of the spectrum – eating healthfully (enough produce and proteins and whole grains rather than crap) so I’ll be healthy when I am ready for kids. Somehow I have always been better about keeping up my exercise than I am about eating super clean.

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Never had this issue (thank God) although I was pretty active in high school and I did have short bouts of under-eating when I was younger. I can honestly say that I felt/feel so much better when I’m well-nourished though… it just makes any work-out so much better & enjoyable! Thanks for this post – long term optimal health is WAY better than any current/short-term victory!

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I’ve never had reg periods and have always been on the lower end of normal weight. This has never concerned me until recently when we’ve started to think about starting a family so Im talking to my Dr about it more seriously. And nothing would make me happier than eating Oreos w you and Brooke :)

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You are so brave for writing about this!! And I know you are helping so many women! It is definitely something that is important and should be discussed!! I was working out too much and not eating enough, and sure enough, my period was very irregular! Thankfully, I got informed about proper nutrition and what I was doing to my body, and am in a much better place now. Thanks for sharing, girl!

Also, yes, I would love to come over and have an oreo/moving party! :)

xo

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Yes my running has affected my perios. I lost it while I was a junior in high school and on the cross country team and I did not get it back for about 3 1/2 years. I loved not having my period in high school and I really thought it was no big deal..in fact very cool. I had a man coach (not that all men coaches are this way) but he had no clue. I think it is just great that you watched out for this! He never addressed any these issues and it was through others girls on the team that I developed really bad eating patterns and wanting to be as thin as possible to run better. I would say 5 of the top 6 of us had destructive eating and it is just a VERY hard pattern to break!
It was when I was in college and got engaged, and I was also thinking about a family with my future husband, that I talked to someone about it and was able to get my period back. I had to cut back a little on exercise and eat more/put on some weight. I was still determined to run everyday and it has only been within the last 3 years that I have learned the importance of a day off and that it is okay and good to take one.
I was able to get mine back in about 3 months also and was very blessed to have been able to get pregnant so quickly! We were told it could take us a long time to become pregnant due to my cycle or lack there of….but we got pregnant the first month and were blessed with a little girl who will be 11 in 2 days!
I have never had a stress fracture and would LOVE to come help you unpack while your husband sets up my blog…hahaha..just kidding :)

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I was dealing with this the whole time I was trying to get pregnant- I would skip a few months and then have a period and then skip some more. It took us more than a year to get our little guy on the way, and I hate to admit that it was probably mostly due to my stubbornness about wanting to keep running and fear of packing on the weight I needed to get my period back. Now I’m breastfeeding and running again, and trying a lot harder to keep my body fat in a place that will hopefully allow my period to come back post partum sooner rather than later because I SO do not want to do the infertility thing again, and I want a million babies!!!

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I lost my period for about 7 months this past year. I didn’t realize I had to eat so much to keep up with my training. I didn’t realize how serious of an issue it was until I came across your first post on periods. After some more research I was really freaked out!! I started eating more, including lots of nuts/peanut butter. My period came back and voila! I am now expecting my first bebe :-). Thanks for shedding some light on this issue.

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I really love that you’re addressing this Janae, because I feel like not enough women realize how serious of a matter it is. I never lost my period because of running, but I lost it because of chronic undereating and overtraining, and it took almost a year for it to normalize again. Getting a period is an essential part of being female, so not getting one means things aren’t functioning the way they should be and something needs to change.

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When I was at the peak training of my life, I lost my period for about a year and a half, and I didn’t care. I actually appreciated not having one, but in hindsight, that was my body’s first way of telling me it wasn’t healthy. My doctor put me on birth control to try and get my cycle back and regulated, then not too long after that I got mono, because my training hadn’t slowed down one bit. Needless to say, I listen to my body a lot better these days!

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Thanks for sharing! My husband and I were just debating about ramen noodles. I have said NO since we moved into our house two years ago… but I’m slowly reconsidering because they ARE yummy! I just don’t want it to be an excessive source of food.

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I’ve had a ton of stress fractures (I’ve posted here about them before!) but it isn’t a result of low body fat. Right now it seems like it’s related to a really low vitamin D level. I actually can’t run anymore because I’ve had so many (two in my femurs) but I’ve found other activities I love, too :)

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This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I wrote one of my college papers on Female Athlete Triad. I think one of the reasons it is so prevalent with young women is because it doesn’t get talked about enough. While it is most common in young athletes, you don’t have to be an athlete or underweight to experience it.

I’m on the heavier side of the healthy weight spectrum but I’ve had a few skipped periods when I’ve trained for marathons. I knew enough to know that I needed to get my nutrition back on track. Percentage of body fat can be a factor, but it’s more a malnutrition issue (calcium plays a huge role). I have to admit, there was part of me that enjoyed not having my period, but I knew it was a sign of bad things to come. If you do have 1 or 2 months of missing periods but it comes back you shouldn’t be too concerned. It’s when it’s ongoing that you should take it very seriously.

The Female Athlete Triad is 1-Energy deficit/disordered eating (yep, if you aren’t eating enough for your energy expenditure it’s considered disordered eating), 2- Ammenorrhea (no period), 2-osteoporosis. Most people don’t worry too much about the first two, but bone loss general leads to stress fractures which actually affects performance. It’s just too bad it takes injuries to motivate a lot of girls with F.A.T. (I know I’m not the only person who finds an eating disorder called FAT is ironic).

I’m glad you’ve brought the issue up and so many people have shown interest. From the research I did it seemed to me one of the leading reasons girls (the studies mostly covered high school & college athletes, but anyone could be at risk) end up with FAT is from lack of knowledge. The other top reasons were competition and body dissatisfaction.

Osteoporisis, stress fractures, or even joint replacements are not worth having for any race or pace. Since most people don’t talk about their periods a lot it’s usually when girls get the stress fractures that professionals catch on. Seriously, what 16 girl is going to talk to a coach, especially a male coach, about missing her period?

Sadly I lost my flash drive with all my college papers on it or I’d share my sources.

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Love your wisdom on this! My problem was kind of different… I DID end up getting pregnant when I was very underweight/running an unhealthy and then I had a whole different set of problems. Being treated for an eating disorder away from your family in another state while half way through your first pregnancy isn’t something I would ever want anyone to have to go through!!! I COMPLETELY agree to take care of the problem as soon as you can. Things only get more complicated the longer you wait! Luckily everything turned out for the best and we are all doing better than ever but I know not everyone has this fortune.

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Isn’t it amazing how pregnancy gives you a new look on your body? A BETTER look!

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I have lost my period a couple of times during intense training, and ended up having to get on birth control to re-regulate it and get it to cycle normally again. At the time I wasn’t sure what was going on, so I was very grateful for the information that my doctor was able to provide me.

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Here’s is a good website with some advice and stories from athletes.

http://www.femaleathletetriad.org

In For Professionals tab there are lot of great sources for further study.

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Oh so glad to see this post. This just happened to me while I was training for the New Orleans marathon. I haven’t had a period for 4 months. I am now trying to get pregnant and have talked to my doctor about this. I have backed way off on running and focusing on yoga for now.

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That’s what I did and it worked! Have you read Taking Charge of your Fertility?

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FANTASTIC post, Janae. this is incredibly important!

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I dont think running has affected my period yet but I don’t actually track it. I have very irregular periods to begin with so i’m not sure.

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Agreed! Lost my “.” forever and only got it back when I gained weight. Now that I had to stop nursing I finally got it back again. Ready for round 2 now :)

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Your blog was so incredibly helpful for me with this. I think we were trying to gain at the same time. I saw how you were incorporating fro-yo, a donut, the pb container at your school desk etc and it game me the confidence to follow suit. Thank you!
And for all that fear the gaining and running performance, mine has never been better with the added pounds………go figure.

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If we can create a “beam me up” transporter, I’ll be there to help you unpack asap. I love it! I planned for months before we moved from VA last year! When my hub moved into my place, his former roomie (more like a sister) told me she’d hire me to move any time.

Oh, and I’ve never lost my period, but I did naturally gain a bit more fat before we became pregnant with Susanna. It was befuddling to me, but I think my body knew what was around the calendar pages and was prepping.

Sweet girl was conceived, journeyed, and arrived just fine and in perfect health. That extra bit of fat was a blessing.

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My period has only been regular when I was on birth control. When I went off BC my period would come (literally) every 42-100 days. I knew it was from running. I got pregnant almost exactly a year after being off BC. I had to start cutting back a little on my running. Thankfully (kind of) I got pregnant shortly after that. But it is a concern after I have my baby. I don’t want to go back on BC but I’m afraid I won’t be regular as I will continue to run!
I have had a stress fracture in my shin back in high school. Not fun. I don’t think I have ever really overtrained though.
Good luck with your unpacking!!

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I totally appreciate this topic, and think it affects almost all women, whether they want to admit it or not. I think people forget that you have to consume a bit more when you’re running crazy amounts. I also appreciate how you don’t ever hold back on what you’re really eating and it make’s me feel less guilty for everything I eat! You are setting an amazing example for Brooke!

Also, I recently stumbled upon your blog and I love it! So obsessed, reading all your old entries and your family is adorable!

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SO true!! Amen!! Obviously, I am so happy I worked to get mine back too. :)

I hadn’t had mine for 6+ years, so the time that went into getting it back was rough but soooo worth it. I am SO grateful for my journey & the lessons I learned. I wish everyone would know now what I do about that: IT’S NOT WORTH IT to lose it b/c of unhealthy behaviors. Eat enough calories for your body & don’t exercise too much. I’m glad I learned that lesson before wanting to have kids though, because it would’ve been a lot of heartache.

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I really admire that you posted this. I can’t really contribute much though- I haven’t gotten it, lol. I’m trying to keep it off as long as possible!

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What’s Belvita, I’ll look that up. Ramen and oreos, where do I sign up and btw your crockpot is the cutest I’ve ever seen.

That sucks about the period thing, and I of course don’t have that because most of my running has been overweight. This year my goal is to lose weight and I’m actually within normal for my height. I guess I do feel those same feeling like I have to be in a certain weight range to be a better runner. I guess I should just focus on my health and let the rest come.

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I went without a period for almost 3 years and it just started coming back this winter. At first it was kind of upsetting because of that pesky weight thing but at the same time, it’s such an important thing. The number doesn’t matter. Health does. It is sad to see runners who run themselves into the ground losing weight because they think it will make them faster. That only works to an extent and then it backfires. I think a lot of people can learn from this, and from you!

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The BCP’s I’m on, as well as every other brand I’ve tried, completely stops my period (it’s suppose to lighten and shorten it, but mine was already short and light) and dr.’s say it’s fine, but until I get off of it I won’t know it’s effect on my actual period. It has become a concern though because I’m at my lowest weight and running a lot of miles. I don’t think we’re looking at baby making for a little bit, but I’m interested in getting off just to make sure all is well.

Ramen is amazing and I would LOVE to come to the party- let’s do it! I use to love eating just the dry noodle brick.

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thank you for posting this important topic. This isnt just a young runners issue so i’m glad youre talking about it I suffered a terrible stress fracture to my femoral neck at the end of 2011 at the age of 49. I was running too fast too far too often and was down to 98lbs with 10% body fat. I was completely unaware of what was going on and wasnt trying to lose weight. i was obsessed with distance and speed.

My injury was so painful physically and emotionally but was just the wake up call i needed. I was forced to take months off from any sort of exercise until my MRI came back clear. during that time i put some weight on (it helped that it was that holidays) and i started back slowly. I try very hard not to count calories or weight myself although at times i cant help myself. its a habit that will be very hard to break.

I just ran my first half marathon last week injury and pain free and was thrilled. I’ve learned to run the long distance in intervals and make sure i’m fueling myself properly before and after runs.

Thank you again for bringing this up. i think its an important topic that should be openly discussed. it has helped me a lot to know that i’m not the only one this has happened to.

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When I was 16 and I was running high school cross country and track, I had a stress fracture in my femur. I was running the mile race for track and it broke, I fell to the ground, and was taken to the hospital to have surgery to have a metal rod inserted. After that experience I definitely learned a lot about too much exercise and low body weight. However, I am healthy, still run to this day and completed my first marathon a little over a year ago!

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PCOS will also cause you to have irregular periods.
I thought I didn’t have regular cycles bc I work out so much, but it was actually because I had cysts on my ovaries. BC pills hide this problem so I never knew until I tried to get pregnant.

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I lost my period two years ago. I am 5′ 8 and my weight dropped from 145 to 112. It was a really hard time and it took me a year and a half to gain the weight back while I was still running. I have to take birth control to get my period. For some reason it’s not coming back naturally but I feel as healthy as ever and am trying to take care of myself as best as I can!(: I would recommend seeing a doctor if the period doesn’t come back after 6 months.

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Same story as me. I cut back on running and gained body fat and voila. It came back….alot of mental battles that came with it but so worth it now to have my 10 month old daughter…now my whole outlook on life is so much better!

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I’ve definitely lost my period from being too thin. I was anorexic in high school and dropped to around 98 pounds (at 5 ft 7 in). Not only did my period go away, my blood pressure was 70/40 (extremely low) and I lost 2/3 of my hair. It’s kind of amazing how resilient the body is and I hope to always look for these kinds of obvious signs that tell me something is NOT RIGHT.

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I never had an issue in this area, but I was never a hard-core runner. But I love your honesty and transparency. I know many other women who struggle in this area!! :)

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I’m going through this right now. I have always been in a healthy BMI range but over the last 1.5 years, have gone from the top of that range to the lowest, all while training for two half marathons. In the peak of my first half-marathong training, I stopped getting my period and still have yet to get it back (8+ months). I started eating more (at LEAST 2,500 cal a day–I’m 5’10.5″) and always make sure to take at least one rest day a week but doesn’t seem to work :( I even went to the doctor and she prescribed me provera (progesterone) for 10 days to see if I had withdrawl bleeding but nothing happened. Now she has me taking estrogen/progesterone to see if THAT induces a period but since I have a great risk for breast cancer, my family doesn’t think it’s a good idea. So now I’m stuck, and hoping that my increase in calories will help!

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I havn’t had my period for a year now. I am 22 years old, runner/crossfitter/worker-outer with a past (and current) history of eating problems…. EVERYDAY I have to look in the mirror and tell myself that I need to eat more to get stronger, faster, and HEALTHIER. It is so hard when everything/everyone around you is looking to do the opposite (lose weight). It is like it is hard-wired into a womens brain from the time she hits a certain age…..
This is such great advice. And I absolutely want kids. More than anything. I want a family and know that is the REAL important thing in life. I know I need to get this under control and I have already made BIG steps toward gaing weight.
The first thing I did was STOP THE PALEO DIET and started getting more calories from grains, and second ((and this has been hard)) i have taken your advice and STOPPED WEIGHING MYSELF. so hard, but letting that number dictate my eating patterns is so awful….

Thank you so much for addressing this stuff!! you are so inspirational and wonderful! Thank you!!! Makes me encouraged to go see a nutritionist!!

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I’ve never had that problem before, how scary!

I would gladly drive over the hill to come help you unpack, but there are these two little girls I have…they would pretty much undo any work we got done :)

I had a stress fracture on the top of my right foot last Feb. while training for my first Ragnar! NO FUN!

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Great post, Janae! I have lost my period on a couple occasions, but from dance, not from running. Thinking about my future was the exact same thing that got me out of it. I realized that I would be devastated if my low calorie intake and high exercise level would one day keep me from having kids. That summer, I finally gained a little weight and my periods came back. Even though I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy, I was SO relieved that I COULD get pregnant, and that I hadn’t completely messed my body up. Now, a year and a half later, I am expecting a little boy, due in June! :)

Thanks for posting this!

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A little off topic, but…
I have run two races the day after I started my period – and PRd both of them!
Coincidence? Or just raging hormones? Hmmmmm…

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I love that you brought up this topic, Janae. I agree that it’s SO important for women to talk about! I’ve been on the pill for years, and I get a monthly (veeery light) period. But, I’ve heard/read a lot recently about women who are on the pill and also get a period each month, but then when they go off of it don’t get a period for so long that they go in to see a doctor and find out they’re underweight and have too low of a body fat percentage. It’s like the pill “masked” a real period. It’s scary to think that could be true for me without even knowing it! Is this anything you know about or could talk about in another post?!

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Danica- what you have heard/read about the pill masking your real period is completely true. Like a lot of girls on here, I had an ED in high school and lost waayy too much weight. Binge drinking and late night snacking during my freshman year of college quickly solved that problem. I was able to maintain a normal weight through college and now have 2 beautiful children. Aaahh, but that is not the end of the story. Knowing I was done having children, I found myself back into my old high school ED routines and lost my period for over a year while not on BC. I got back on BC about 6 months ago and even though I haven’t gained any weight, my “period” came back. I know if I went off BC that my period probably won’t come back unless I gain more weight. However, unlike a lot of posts I’ve read, I don’t have an incentive to get my period back since I’m done having children. I know I need to be healthy for my kids sake, but trying to “recover” is really hard. My advice, if you are even remotely thinking about having kids within the next few years, go off your BC and see if you get normal periods. If you don’t then you need to start reevaluating your situation.

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Thanks so much for your response, Erin!
I don’t have an ED and haven’t in my past, but I do know I have a very low body fat percentage (I’ve done a few wellness evaluations with a bod pod test this past year). The trainers who conducted those tests told me that since I’m athletic I was fine, but it’s always in the back of my mind about whether it really is okay or not…it’s scary to think that even though I feel great, inside I could be incredibly far from being able to have kids when my husband and I want to!

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LOVE this post. Thank you so much for talking about this sort of thing. When I was running a LOT and was super underweight (partially just from running so much, but also because I didn’t eat anywhere NEAR enough to fuel it), I definitely SHOULD’VE lost my period. But because I was on the pill, I continued to get ‘artificial’ periods regularly . When I finally spoke to a doctor/nutritionist about how underweight I was, they told me how I could be actually doing myself MORE damage because I was continuing to menstruate every month, despite the fact that my body was probably in a state where it really couldn’t afford to. Which was an interesting thing I hadn’t considered before! And it also meant that I didn’t have that really important warning system…. I couldn’t gauge whether my body fat was too low, because I kept thinking “oh well, i’m still getting my period so i’m fine!”. So they just told me that I’d need to be extra careful paying attention to other signs/possibly go off the pill for a while to check whether everything was actually still functioning ok.
I’d had some pretty awful periods before I went on the pill, so I was really hesitant to go off it just to find out whether I would get my period on its own.. it was major motivation for me to just gain some weight and back off the training to get to a state where my body could safely do what it was SUPPOSED to do!

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Thank you for addressing this!! I read all the comments and I hope that someone w/ F.A.T (ironic, ugh) will seek help NOW!!! I have suffered with this for 7 years. 7!!! The damage to my ovaries is irreversible. I have had over 6 IVFs and 30 IUIs. Nothing will “wake” them up since I have gone so long w/out producing any hormones. Please, please seek help if this is you!!!!!!!!!! You may not care about your period when you are 20, but when you are 30 and have been married for 8 years you will care!!!!! Everything happens for a reason, but perhaps I wouldn’t be going through the adoption process had I taken better care of my body–then and now.

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I love that you mentioned this. It is really important that women athletes know that if they are getting their period via birth control, it is a “false period” and they can still experience the damaging effects of low body fat and overtraining.

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I have a history of disordered eating, I certainly lost my cycle for as long as 5 years at one time. However, that said I also have PCOS which played a part in that too. But when I was 20 I had a severe compression fracture of my hip. I spent 1 month on bedrest, 5 months on crutches and then found out that I really should have had surgery as it just was taking so long to heal. Almost a year after it there still was evidence on xray of a minor compression fracture. That was not my wake up call, it should have been. The scariest part was that when they did contrast studies on me they discovered 4 stress fractures in my other leg ( minor, but there). I am not sure what my wake up call was or what changed me but I had to do a lot to get my cycle back and then of course it stopped again, but not to disordered eating. We had fertility issues due to the PCOS however I often wondered if my history didn’t also play a part. I am so, so, so far past that thinking. Please know that you do get over it. Other things can be more important, like my amazing two little girls.

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Running has never effect my period–thank goodness. :) And I would also like to come over for your party.

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Thank you for bringing this up. Sadly, I have dealt with this for years. I have a hard time explaining everything to the doctor and they seem to just wanna write me a prescription for pills, instead of helping me find a way to get this fixed. I love running, but I don’t wanna give up my chances to have a family someday. It’s just not something a lot of girls my age have to think about. I start training for my first marathon next week and my mom is really worried something will happen to me. I’ve promised her and myself that I will be smart about this and make adjustments to my training and diet as needed. I love love love kids. I’m pursuing a major in Early Childhood Education. It would break my heart to work with kids all day and know that with the right person I wouldn’t be able to have kids of my own. I will be carefully watching this because it’s the best thing for me long term. Thank you for sharing this, it means a lot to hear it from someone who are struggled with it and overcome it.

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I love my period for almost two years due to low weight and being on birth control too long. I had to gain some weight, get off birth control and modify my diet with not soy products to increase my estrogen. Now I still only get a 2 day period, but at least it’s something…. Sometimes I wonder if its ok, but I truly respects dr and am a nurse myself and she is content with a short period

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Has running effected your period?
-I still get my period but it is beyond unpredictable. Ever since I started running, it’s so irregular. I’ve already discussed it with my obgyn and apparently it wasn’t a concern…

Have you ever overtrained?
-Probably. I’ve been injured before and I’m pretty sure that it was from increasing mileage too quickly, and my obsession with running only on asphalt for the longest time.

Who is going to come over for an Oreo and ramen party while we unpack together?
-Oh! Me! Let me buy my plane ticket. I’ll be there in a few hours! Save me an Oreo, please!!!

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Hi Janae! Yep, I too have lost my period to overexercising and not enough nutrition. It happened before I could even realize it and what’s crazy is that none of my Dr.’s addressed the issue even though I told them about it. I was of average/thin weight 104lbs at 5ft3in and because I looked fairly normal no one seemed to ‘care’ and therefore I didn’t either! 3 plus years later and nearing the time to have a baby I am wishing I knew the consequences of my actions! I have decreased exercise and increased cals and had 1 period in the last 6 mths but STRESS keeps it at bay for sure. I think this is another element not talked about enough with this. We have got to start breathing and slowing down!

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Ooooh those periods. The lovely blessing to all women that someone forms a love hate relationship. For runners, we miss it when they are gone too long and it puts perspective on how we are treating our body. When Miss flow is there constantly and makes her depute on race day, ughhhhh there is the hate part of the relationship. Thank you for sharing such a personal topic. Great post that all of us can relate to

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I have totally overtrained before. I collapsed mentally before I did physically, thank goodness, (well, I have an IUD so it’s hard to say, who knows, maybe I was worse off then I knew) but it took me months for running to feel normal again.

In general conference somewhere this past time it mentioned something about any good virtue taken to extremes becomes a bad thing. It’s hard to find that line and that balance sometimes, but it’s so necessary.

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Great topic! I don’t run or train hard enough for it to happen to me but I think that it’s such an important part of fitness and health. Thanks for being brave and talking about your experience :).

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When I was a sophomore in college, I suffered from anorexia and dropped to 102 lbs…I’m 5’8″. I didn’t get a period for about 2 years. Once I was in recovering, I started eating more but def tried to exercise to compensate the extra calories. I also used my future as motivation to get healthy so that I could continue to run and start a family. I am now the proud mama of an 11 week old angel :). Even now, it is hard to not fall back into old habits sometimes…

I have had two severe stress fractures….one in each leg. I was sidelined for months with each one and I had to walk with a crutch. No fun. :-(

If I didn’t live across the country I would so come help you unpack…as long as there are snacks!

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You are an amazing woman Janae! You are helping others with your open and honest words. Be proud of yourself! You are making a difference!

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You really are lucky that you got it back so easily! I lost my period in my teens when I was severely anorexic, and I have NEVER gotten a natural period without birth control. Seems to have reprogrammed my hypothalamus. Even gaining body fat didn’t help, which is a bummer, but birth control helps me have normal hormone levels for now. I do know I can’t be a high mileage runner, though–which is OK! I prefer and am better over short distance races.

It is encouraging to see you have such a beautiful, healthy baby. I hope someday my body normalizes enough to be fertile. :)

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Great post, something that I think affects a lot of women out there. I’ve never gone to any of those extremes and have always managed to keep plenty of fat on my body, so I can’t really imagine what that would be like, but it’s crazy how common it’s gotten! So important to bring it up from time to time and hopefully girls who are over-training and under-eating will see your example and smarten up. Brooke is the cutest! 324123534 times more important than the “perfect” racing weight. :)

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I lost mine, but I am overweight. I am not sure it is only because your body fat is too low.

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I would totally come over for a ramen party if I lived near you. Not even kidding…

So that picture of you and Brooke made me really realize that you grew a human being. I think that qualifies as a superpower!!

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I have never been underweight, I’m slap in the middle of my ideal BMI, but my periods become infrequent during marathon training. I still don’t completely understand it, but I’d like to see some research that includes other factors besides body fat.

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i’m so glad you share this. and I’m so glad that Brooke was the result of you listening to your body. thanks for encouraging us all! xxoo

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I’m 19 and have been a competitive athlete at a very high level since I was 12 and I have never had a period. I am scared and confused and have tried a few things to start it but thus far, nothing has worked. Thank you for sharing Janae <3

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Never encountered this issue but have severe knee issues which make me very sympathetic for anyone facing health issues with their body — inside and out. I loved playing tennis and recently donated my racket after realizing I hadn’t played in 6 years due to injury and can’t play anymore. Your posts about your trials/experiences with injury are enlightening and honest. Please keep in mind that I say this with the (large) caveat being that I do not enjoy seeing you or anyone in pain/ facing injury.

I think you and your family are great! Really!

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Never trained or lost so much weight I lost my period. I’m OK with that! Hahaha
I have had two stress fractures. One in my distal tibial and another somewhere in my foot, I don’t remember. I got them when I first started running and before I knew the importance of good shoes. I would rather have a stress fracture over a chronic injury like Plantar Fasciitis. I am super careful to get all my vitamins and minerals and NO soda!

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<3 you. And the topics you've been posting about lately. I'm so happy/appreciative/grateful that you use your already wonderful blog to talk about these important issues, you give people a space to share, learn, feel connected, which are all part of growing and healing. And i would totally help you unpack if i lived a few states over. If i end up moving to northern cali i'll def. help with the next move…

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You are so awesome to be honest about this issue…
Have you considered coaching Girls On The Run?
You’d be an amazing coach for that program!

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PS ~ thank you for reposting that picture of you an Brooke! So beautiful.

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I’m glad you posted this. I’ve been running for about a year now & I’m on my second round of half marathon training. My period always comes right on time, but the duration of my cycle continues to decrease. My last period lasted just a few hours. I’m a healthy weight with a normal body fat percentage, so I’ve been kind of baffled about it. This was the encouragement I needed to make an appt. with my doctor. While it’s been nice having such short periods, I’m worried that eventually I won’t have one at all & I didn’t realize how serious it can be.

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Great post. I’m sure it’s difficult to talk about, but helpful for so many women and girls out there to hear.

I’ve had only one stress fracture, and it was on the bottom of my foot (the bone on the ball of my foot, under my big toe). I was in high school, training in the summer for soccer and 1 too many sprints in my cleats caused it. Ouch!

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I too (shocked how many women experience this) am not currently having my period. I just ran my first marathon in March and haven’t seen a period since January. It’s strange because I do feel like I eat A TON and my body fat percentage is in the “normal” range. I think my body is just overworked and over stressed by all the training (weight train as well 5days/ week). I’m also learning that “normal” BF for MY body might be totally different than the next girl. I am working with my doctor and taking a step back from excercise. PRAYING it comes back soon!

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I love that you are so honest.
I know for a while back in 10th grade I lost my period due to weight loss and I couldn’t understand why.
I think this is an important topic and should be talked about.
Thank you sharing it because there are millions of women who probably experience the same thing every day!!!

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I never really had a “normal” period and running just sort of built on that so I rarely got mine. Now that I’m doing the RLRF plan, I actually sort of got it back, so maybe it’s a good thing to cut down my miles a bit.

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I haven’t had mine for a while, and it’s really hard sometimes to keep reminding myself how important it is that I get it back, but I know I need to continue working on it! Thanks for your honesty!

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Thanks for this honest post! It’s important that women understand that a healthy weight and BMI are critical to overall health. And, as mothers, it’s even more important that we set a good example for our daughters. I don’t want my daughters to be part of the childhood obesity epidemic, but I also don’t want them to have unrealistic expectations about what a normal, healthy body looks like.

What we see in the media and entertainment world is not real life. When I really think about the body type I admire most, it’s not stick-thin models. It’s the strong, healthy women who can run a marathon, strap on a backpack for an all-day hike, or just get out & be active with their children.

Having said all of this, I’m about to wean my youngest after nursing her for a year. And I’m not looking forward to the return of my monthly visitor. Ugh! : ) It was nice to have the break while I was pregnant and nursing.

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Thank you for putting up this post! I’m currently on the NuvaRing and I’m usually good about keeping up to schedule although because of this post and the reminder it gave me I found out I am at least two months late due to exercise (I’m definitely not pregnant). So, thank god for you, or I would be totally ambivalent.

I started running competitively as a freshman in high school and continued running at that level for 6.5 years, year-round. Back then – I would go 10+ months without having my period and then get it for 10-30 days at full blast (obviously it was horrendous). That’s why I initially started birth control to actually get my period and all the awful side effects.

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Thanks so much for sharing this – I am sure lots of young women out there are affected!

On a lighter note – HOW do you guys keep that many Oreos in your house??? That would be so dangerous.

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I’ve never lost mine, but I have over trained and gotten hurt. I thought that I might have a stress fracture in my foot a little while ago, but it turns out I think it’s tendonitis which still isn’t good. I try to incorporate healthy fats into my diet by eating lots of avocados and nuts, but I think I’m ok because I love candy/dessert so much that that helps me keep some meat on the bones :)

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Great post. Amenorrhea really needs to be spoken about more often. I am no stranger to the term as I suffered with it when I was 22 when I didn’t get my period for 18 months. It was hard to figure out back then as I was within normal weight range for my height but simply wasn’t eating enough for the exercise I was doing. My body is sensitive and can’t go by the “charts”. What is enough weight for one, isn’t enough for the other. I notice now as well as soon as I up my running, my period goes missing. It is a very tough battle because on one hand you know you need it back to be healthy and on the other, it is just so nice to not have to deal with the PMS and cramps. Sometimes you need to be able to override your mind’s thoughts and realize you need to have PMS and the cramps and deal with it over dealing with the consequences of NOT getting your period.

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This just happened to me! The month and a half of my training for a 10 mile run, I lost my period. It had never happened to me before. Lo and behold, it started almost as soon as the race was done on Sunday! But I obviously need to change something about my running and eating habits if I want to do something like this again! Thanks for sharing. And phew! Glad it’s not just me!

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I am 10 months postpartum and have yet to have my period. I am still breastfeeding though so I know that has something to do with it. I am also about 3-4lbs heavier than I would like to be and my stomach is still a little soft, but I keep reminding myself I carried an 8.1lb baby girl! I started racing 2 months PP and recently PR-ed at 4 mile race and half marathon. I travel to Boston on Friday to run the Boston marathon. As much as I want to take it easy, I also want to run hard and try to PR (3:27). We’ll see how I feel come race day.

Anyway, not quite sure what my response was targeted towards but wanted to share my post-baby running and period experiences with you and your readers.

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I did lose mine at some point. For a long time too. It recently came back, and I feel the ‘period-emotions’ (feeling grouchy and/or very sad) are even worse than I remembered. I actually felt guilty for getting it back, but I don’t know why I was feeling guilt.

I suppose it does help to see you with your joyful child because it reminds me that maybe it isn’t bad that it returned–just in case, I ever want children.

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I just got mine back after a few months and felt that same guilt you were describing. It’s almost nice just going about your life and not having to deal with it (even though it’s unhealthy), I suppose it’s nicer to have it back and all the horrible side effects….

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You are so great! I am a first year med student now- and these issues are far too often glazed over. I.e. in myself. Stress fracture: femur (no fun) and coincidentally enough IT band right now!

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Any runners with PCOS out there that have had this issue?

I had problems with irregular period in high school (got it every 2.5 weeks), went on birth control for a little over a year, and just went off last year due to bad side effects. I stopped taking it in May of 2012 and have only gotten my period TWICE since then. My gynecologist told me that my body fat was fine and didn’t think that or my 30ish miles per week was the issue so he did an ultrasound for PCOS — turns out I have it.

I REALLY don’t want to go on birth control again – it makes me crazy! So, he put me on Pregnitude, this supplement with folic acid and myo-isotil in it. I’m probably spelling the latter wrong. Anyway. Has anyone had success with Pregnitude/do any runners have tips for getting a regular cycle with PCOS without hormones?

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Thank you so much for covering the Female Athlete Triad! I just got a stress fracture in my 2nd toe metatarsal two weeks ago and will not be able to run the Twin Cities Marathon this coming Sunday. I’m still in the grieving process because I have sacrificed all summer training really hard and passionately for it. I’ve struggled with body image all my life, and never had a regular menstrual cycle. That with the physical stress of 50 miles a week on very little sleep and limiting myself to 1000 calories to get to race weight has finally snow balled into missing out on the one goal that has fueled my decisions for the past 4 months.

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I know you posted this over 2 years ago now but I find it really helpful and I’m so glad you are talking about this because it is an EXTREMELY prevalent issue yet for some reason, everyone seems too scared to actually talk about it.

I currently haven’t had my period for 9 months. I used to have an eating disorder (anorexia) about a year and a half ago and during that time, I got down to 100 lbs at 5″4′ and was eating very little while doing a lot of exercise. I went into recovery, got back to a healthy weight and got my period back but then a few months later, lost it again despite not losing any weight. And now I have lost weight again over a period of about 10 months (but not due to an ED, just accidentally as a result of high running) and am sitting in the boat where I am trying to gain weight yet again and get my period back naturally (rather unsuccessfully I might add).

I already eat loads, like probably as much as an adolescent boy, yet I can’t seem to put on weight. So as of right now, I just keep trying to add on calories in whatever way possible. I’m not going to decrease my running. I am training for a 10k race in the Spring so I refuse to stop running.

I’m hoping I’ll get my period back naturally once I gain about 8 or 9 pounds back. I’m soon coming up to a year with no period and that really worries me as the possibility of low bone density (and thus stress fractures) really scares me. And I realllly don’t want to go on the pill. It’s also worth mentioning that I do not currently struggle with disordered eating or distorted body image in the slightest (thank god). My once disordered-skewed mind is healthy and I know I will never revert to that behavior again. So the problem seems to be purely a physical one, not mental.

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