6 Steps to Get Your Period Back Naturally

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Written By

Lauryn

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Women Talking About How To Get Their Period Back

1 in 4 women experience amenorrhea— the absence or abnormal cessation of your period

Read on for some simple solutions for getting the Red Tide flowing again.

Periods are one of those bitter-sweet things in life.

The Bitter Things About Having Your Period

  • You hate embarrassingly standing in line at Walgreens, tampons in hand, waiting to check out as you catch subtle stares from onlookers
  • You hate the ONE day you choose to wear white pants (commando style)…and red tide starts to flow.
  • PMS takes you down—no matter how much chocolate you eat

 The Sweet Things About Having Your Period

  • You can justify eating a little more chocolate
  • You have an excuse for waking up on the wrong side of the bed
  • Your period is your monthly “report card”—a sign that your body is in a healthy, “happy” and fertile place

So, what does it mean if you’re NOT having a period?! Something is not quite right.

If you’re wondering: What’s wrong with me? Will I ever be able to have kids? How do I get my period back?!…You are not alone.

Amenorrhea 101

Period Get Back Naturally Dr Lauryn, Menstrual Pads, Blood Period Calendar And Clock.

1 in 4 women of menstruating age (teens to 40’s) experience amenorrhea (Warren, 1999)—losing their period for 3 consecutive months or longer. This is especially common in women with histories of chronic dieting, disordered eating, intense exercise and/or overtraining.

In fact, the amenorrhea statistic shrinks more for those who are active and athletic—over 1 in 2 women who workout regularly suffer from amenorrhea and menstrual dysfunction (Speed, 2007).

Amenorrhea falls into two categories: (1.) primary amenorrhea—wherein periods have never begun (by age 16), and (2.) secondary amenorrhea or functional hypothalamic amenorrhea—defined as the absence of menstrual periods for three consecutive cycles or a time period of more than six months in a woman who was previously menstruating.

Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea is the most common type of amenorrhea, particularly experienced by a vast majority of women who lead stressful lifestyles, athletes or those with sub-clinical eating disorders (dieters, controlled eaters). In functional hypothalamic amenorrhea, your hormones (FSH-follicle-stimulating hormone and LH—estrogen and progesterone) are still in tact—they are just low. Really low. You are still ovulating. You are simply not menstruating— bleeding—during that time of the month. At the same time, your cortisol (stress hormones) are high. If functional hypothalamic amenorrhea is prolonged, it can have significant impacts on metabolic, bone, cardiovascular, mental, and reproductive health

Conventional treatment of secondary amenorrhea typically entails a blend of:

  • Birth control pills
  • Thyroid replacement medications
  • Estrogen replacement therapy
  • Medications to relieve PCOS symptoms
  • Medications to treat pituitary gland tumors or “prolactinomas”
  • PCOS evaluation
  • Eating disorder treatment
  • Talk therapy
  • Advice to “eat more”, “gain weight” or exercise less—(with little support or direction in how to do so!)

Unfortunately, many of these treatments miss the boat on addressing the root cause of amenorrhea—the reason why your period went missing in the first place. Stress.

In order to get your period back, it’s crucial to first understand the unique “root cause” reasons behind why your period is missing, then take these 6 steps to get your period back naturally.

Problem Solving: Why is Your Period Missing?

Although some women lose their periods due to ovarian causes, pituitary tumors or thyroid problems, the vast majority experience amenorrhea due to stress.

After all, considering that having a period is a sign of fertility, the last thing your body wants to do if it’s stressed—like running from a bear—is make a baby. In order to protect you and your needs first, your hormones go in “lock down” and survival mode to help you flee the bear.

On a physiological level, chronic stress results in altered cortisol levels (stress hormones) and a condition known as “HPA Axis Dysregulation” (code word for: stress), consequently altering your cycle (Ding et al, 1988).  Even in “normal weight” women, altered cortisol levels can hijack your period and lead to amenorrhea (Meczekalski et al, 2000).

Additionally, once your body is in “stressed out” mode, you can have a heightened cortisol response to any other (future stressors) that come your way. Women with hypothalamic amenorrhea experience even greater sensitivity to stress and elevated responses for their cortisol, levels when they exercise—even after just 10 minutes. Researchers speculate this is due to a decrease in blood glucose levels (under-nutrition) and difficulty getting their heart rate up high to meet exercise demands (Sanders et al, 2018).

Stress is defined as a state of mental, physical or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Although stress is inevitable—a part of life, when stress exceeds you or your body’s ability to cope with or counter that stress is when imbalance arises (like missing your period).

Any of these amenorrhea stressors sound familiar?

  • Dietary stress (chronic dieting or eating inflammatory foods)
  • Eating the same things every day
  • Chronic under-eating (i.e. not eating enough)
  • Poor energy balance (i.e. exercising a lot but not refueling the tank)
  • Restricting certain food groups—fats, carbs or protein
  • Low bodyweight or body fat
  • Disordered eating—drive for thinness and/or purging behaviors
  • Fasting or intermittent fasting
  • Lack of variety with movement (running or HIIT every day)
  • Overtraining
  • Under-sleeping
  • Caffeine dependence
  • Alcohol-frequent or excessive drinking
  • Circadian rhythm disruption (sleeping, waking, exercising at off times)
  • Environmental, chemical or toxic exposure
  • Chronic anxiety, worry and mental stress
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Saying “yes” all the time (people pleasing)
  • Burning a candle at both ends
  • Booking your schedule solid, day in and day out—not making time for you
  • Bottling or stuffing your worries, problems, stresses and woes

Above all, your body likes homeostasis (balance). It will do what it can to fight for that “balance.” However,, if and when chronic stress persists, an alteration of your homeostatic (balanced) set point often occurs. in order to function and preserve more “important” processes (i.e. like your survival, and coping with the stress at hand), your physiological well-being takes a hit.

Enter: Loss of your period. The good news: You can get it back. Although there’s not one magical answer, several steps can help get your period back naturally.

6 Steps to Get Your Period Back

The top 6 steps to get your period back include:

Step 1: Identify Your Top Stressors

Make a list of the top stressors in your life—physical, mental, emotional, relational, vocational—all of ‘em. Write them down in one column and be honest with yourself. See on paper, right in front of you what is weighing you down, holding you back. This will be your starting point.

Once you’ve got your list, in a column directly across from each point, write out at least one coping strategy, alternative option, or counter statement to this stress or worry.

Example #1

Stressor: “I must run 6-miles every day”
Coping Strategy:
“I will vary my routine to run my usual 6-miles, 3-4 days this week, and on the other days, lift weights and walk.

Example #2

Stressor: A boss you can never please
Coping Strategy: Give 110% effort at all you do for you—not him; and use your voice. Have an honest conversation.

Example #3

Stressor: Eating the same things every single day.
Coping Strategy: Pick 2-3 rotating breakfasts, lunches and dinners to “taste the rainbow”

Fun Fact: Stress management strategies are your most powerful assets for getting your period back naturally. Women with amenorrhea have been shown to cope less well with stress. One study showed that women who developed better coping strategies through therapy/coaching and lifestyle changes were more likely to recover from amenorrhea than women who did not focus on addressing mental and physical stress (80% compared tp 50% who recovered). Another study found that 75% of women with amenorrhea recovered their period after 12 weeks of one hypnotherapy session per week (Gibson et al, 2020).

Step 2: Eat Enough (& Enough Balance)

Period - Eat Healthy Food

Let food be thy medicine.

Researchers at Penn State University found that reducing calories by 470 to 810 a day compared to baseline needs over as few as three menstrual cycles is enough to disturb a woman’s cycle (Williams et al, 2015).

Other research has shown that women with hypothalamic amenorrhea have low leptin levels (“fullness” or “satisfaction” hormone)—signaling “I’m hungry” to the body. Although leptin first was thought to just be an antiobesity hormone, it is now recognized as a hormonal balancer in response to energy deprivation. Studies have shown that short-term starvation of mice and humans (Ahima et al, 1996; Chan et al, 2003; Schurgin et al, 2004) results in leptin deficiency and alterations in the reproductive, thyroid, and growth hormone axes, which are normalized with administration of leptin. Women with amenorrhea are chronically energy-deprived and have both hypoleptinemia and similar neuroendocrine abnormalities.

Researchers speculate that leptin deficiency may be one of the primary reasons for the lack of menstrual cycles and hormone abnormalities in women with hypothalamic (exercise-induced) amenorrhea—explaining why some active women or women with a low bodyweight lose their period whereas others do not. To test this theory, researchers gave 10 active women leptin replacement and compared them to 10 women with amenorrhea and no leptin replacement. The results: 70% of women who received extra leptin support experienced r recovery of menstruation as well as restoration of abnormalities in the gonadal, thyroid (raised free T3 levels), growth hormone, and adrenals; whereas only 20% of women who were on the birth control pill only got their period back.

In short: If your body is energy deprived, your period is not going to happen.

If we aren’t getting enough nutrition OR enough balanced nutrition from all three food groups (proteins, fats, carbs) in our day, then our body eventually has to compensate.

For instance, vegetarian and vegan diets often lead to deficiencies in amino acids, zinc, iron and B-vitamins—all essentials for gut bacteria balance, anti-inflammation in the gut, and absorption of nutrients. Consequently, our hormones don’t get fully fed and our period pay suffer.

Likewise, carb-conscious dieters—eliminating starchy carbs in favor of carrot sticks, spinach salads and broccoli—can also do their hormones a disservice. Carbohydrate is particularly essential for thyroid function—boosting T3 levels (active thyroid hormone) that is often low in “HPA Axis dysregulation” (high cortisol state) (Mathieson et al, 1986; Kopp, 2004) . In my practice, I find (more often than not) that when these low carb dieters allow a little bit of carb back into their diet (ex.  cooked and cooled rice or steel cut oats with breakfast, 1-2 pieces of fruit with snacks or dessert, and a sweet potato with dinner) their body (and hormones) thank them: “You aren’t depriving me anymore.” 

And don’t get me started on healthy fats (and the fat phobia of woman kind). Ladies, listen up: Fat will NOT make you fat. If anything fat makes your cells supple, sleek, and your body lean and mean (not to mention, enhances digestion, which in turn, helps with balancing hormones). In fact, your hormones’ main energy source come from fats, as they are made from fats—and by incorporating fat at each meal, you boost their go-go-go power.

So how do you make sure you are “eating enough”?!—(especially if you’ve adapted to eating less than your energy needs demand, you feel bloated or constipated when you add more food, or you struggle with feelings of guilt or doubt around increasing your calories?). Although I am not big on counting calories or macros, for those who are nutrient deprived, I find that establishing a healthy awareness of the foods you are currently eating and adjusting your macros accordingly can be helpful for amenorrhea. A good rule of thumb for most menstruating women is at least 1800-2200 calories per day and a balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the diet. Find out how to determine your body’s macronutrients needs here.

Need a concrete example? This meal plan could look like:

Healthy Diet Plan

 

 

 

Of course, this is ONLY a template, and for a more targeted, individualized approach, it is best to connect with a healthcare professional with your holistic health in mind.

Bust the Overwhelm Tip: Consider working with a nutrition, gut and hormone expert to help you find balance and eat enough, without the anxiety, fear or doubt that can happen when you try to do it on your own.

Step 3: Love Your Gut +  Liver

Your gut health and liver health play a big (often overlooked) role in hormone health—particularly estrogen production and metabolism, and cortisol balance.

In fact, the gut is often called the “estrobolome” because your gut microbiota regulates and balances estrogen levels in your body (Kwa et al, 2016).

Although estrogens in women, are produced primarily by the ovaries in response to FSH (Follicle-stimulating hormone) telling them to make more, estrogens are activated by your gut bacteria. This happens through the secretion of β-glucuronidase, an enzyme that mobilizes estrogens into their active forms. However, if you have gut dysbiosis or low gut bacteria diversity, this impairs estrogen balance, resulting in a reduction of circulating estrogens. On the flip side, low levels of estrogen can also influence your gut health in a bi-directional relationship (ie. low production of estrogen can cause dysbiosis) (Baker et al, 2017).

As for your liver (your body’s master detoxifier, filter and hormone balancer)—your liver plays backup to your gut microbiome—intercepting the activated estrogens through a process called “glucuronidation”. “Glucuronidation” basically entails the liver prepping hormones for circulation in the body and elimination.

Once estrogens are activated by the gut bacteria, its the liver’s job to prepare them for transportation around the body (circulate them) as well as clear and eliminate them—(especially if there is any excess of estrogen in your body or you’ve ingested fake estrogens—“xenoestrogens”— in substances like processed soy, plastics, water, hygiene and cleaning products, and other toxins). The liver also does the same thing for cortisol (your stress hormone)—it helps both mobilize cortisol if needed to help you fight against stress, as well as clear excess cortisol out of your system if you have too much.

The liver works hard to move estrogens and cortisol throughout the bloodstream and everywhere in your body so your hormones can do there jobs. When your hormones are balanced, here are some of the ways they help you:

  • Balanced Estrogen Roles: stimulate fertility, strengthen bones, boost fertility, busting bust fog, enhance energy, fight inflammation and promote good digestion and motility, increase good cholesterol (HDL)/decrease LDL, promote healthy bodyweight
  • Balanced Cortisol Roles: reduce inflammation, control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, assist with memory formulation, balance minerals, promote healthy blood pressure

Unfortunately, if your liver is overworked, toxic or sluggish, then its ability to both transport and clear both estrogens and cortisol throughout your body, suffers and you’re more at risk for hormone imbalances—including amenorrhea.

For this reason, a healthy gut and healthy liver are foundational for getting your period back naturally. Although this is a big topic, and often best individually addressed with a natural gut health and hormone specialist, here are few essentials to get you started:

Love Your Gut Basics

  1. Symbiotic Up. Take a quality “synbiotic” (probiotic combined with a prebiotic) to boost and balance beneficial gut bacteria
  2. Boost Absorption. Take 1 dropper of digestive bitters or digestive enzymes with meals, chew your food really well, and try a gut love shot before or after meals to boost stomach acid and enzyme production (1 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar in 4-8 oz. water).
  3. Go #2 Daily. If you are not going daily or your poo is not well-formed, smooth and sausage like, Houston, we have a problem. Consider keeping a food-and-poo log or taking the poo transit test to see what’s going on downstairs. And if constipation is your issue, check out my hacks here.

Love Your Liver Basics

  1. Lemon Water + Sea Salt. Flush your liver and balance minerals with lemon water or cucumber water, plus a pinch of sea salt, several times per day. Additionally, drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water daily.
  2. Eat Liver Loving Foods. Teas (Dandelion tea, milk thistle tea, green tea stinging nettle), turmeric, ginger, garlic, fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, sage), fermented beets, celery juice, green juice and wheat grass, wild caught fatty fish, pastured egg yolks, organic organ meats, cruciferous veggies, berries, grapefruit, grapes, fermented foods—incorporate these foods into your daily diet.
  3. Detox Your Body. Replace toxic cleaning, beauty, cookware, bedding, laundry detergent, hygiene supplies and everything in between with non-toxic and natural versions. Gradually replace items as you run out and check out EWG’s non-toxic beauty, hygiene and healthy living home Additionally, as you lighten your toxic load to detox your body, clear out toxins with daily dry brushing, at home infrared sauna sweat sessions, daily fresh air walks and yoga, and detox baths on occasion.

Step 4: Balance Your Exercise

Chronic stress is the anecdote to a healthy menstrual cycle—chronic exercise included.

Exercise does a body good. However, too much of a good thing is not a good thing and, if we go overboard, our hormones get thrown out of whack.

One person’s “over board” can be completely different from the next person’s-depending on other factors, like sleep, recovery, nutrition, toxic burden (mold, environmental triggers, liver health) and lifestyle stressors. One gal may run 3 to 6 miles most days of the week and still have a regular cycle, whereas another women can train with the same exact schedule and lose her period.

Once more: Every BODY is different and has a different threshold. The important thing is to know your personal threshold, and, if you’ve gone overboard, all it takes is a little re-adjusting.

Running 5-6 days per week, without fail…but no period? Perhaps backing off the constant pounding days and intermixing some strength training, hiking, yoga, even a fun dance class.

CrossFit at high-intensity—all the time? Constant HIIT workout after HIIT workout, day after and day can certainly give you an adrenaline high, but it is very taxing on the body as well.

For this reason, especially if you’re trying to get your period back, it’s crucial that you take a good hard look at what you are currently doing (exercise wise), and ask yourself, honestly: is this hurting or helping me?

To get your period back, you CAN have your cake and eat it too—you can still exercise…just bring it back to balance.

Exercise Plan To Get Period Back

Step 5: Recharge with Sleep

It is well established that sleep modulates a variety of hormomealnal functions. Sleep is the panacea for fertility…lack of sleep is not (Kloss et al, 2014).

Lack of sleep, sleep disturbance and/or circadian rhythm dysfunction—sleeping, waking, eating and working out at odd times—all lead to HPA Axis dysregulation, which may lead to infertility. An overactive HPA axis (stress balancing system) directly suppresses hormone balance, interferes with normal follicle development and alters menstruation (Ferrin, 1999).  Furthermore, stress, provoked by increases in exercise and under-eating, has been shown to acutely raise melatonin levels—hijacking quality sleep, and in turn, sustained increases in melatonin have been linked to amenorrhea, hormone suppression and altered ovulation (Schenker et al, 1992).

As far as  how sleep affects estrogen and your period directly, FSH—Follicle Stimulating Hormone (hormone that stimulate the growth of eggs in ovaries), has been found to be 20% lower among women who are short sleepers compared to long sleepers (>8 hrs per night), where age and BMI were controlled  (Touzet et al, 2002).

Broken sleep also disrupts LH (Luteinizing Hormone) balance—the other hormone responsible for stimulating healthy estrogen levels and your period (Hall et al 2005).

The short of the long is that quality sleep does your hormones good, and if you are not getting at least 7 hours per night, you’re hormones may suffer.

Hacks to Boost Your Sleep

  • Sleep in a pitch black dark room (or wear an eye mask while you sleep)
  • Sleep in a cooled room (68 degrees or below)
  • Establish a bedtime routine for yourself (yoga, meditation, reading, hot shower, etc.)
  • Sip herbal tea (chamomile, ginger, dandelion)
  • Nix screens 1-2 hours before bed
  • Sleep with your head propped up if you ate a little bit later
  • Keep EMF’s and electronics out of the bedroom (turn your phone off or on airplane mode)
  • If you wake in the middle of the night, eat a protein snack before bed to balance blood sugar levels (grass-fed cottage cheese, bone broth, protein powder, etc.)

Step 6: Supplement Smart

Once your gut health has been addressed, in conjunction with a solid nutrition protocol (with plenty of fresh food, vegies, healthy fats, protein and some starch), there are a handful of supplements I generally recommend for a targeted approach to getting your period back. These supplements serve a role as “therapeutic tool” for helping your body catch back up to speed—so it can be working for you again.

Probiotics. Alterations in the bacteria located in your gut, liver and reproductive organs can trigger hormonal imbalances (not just bloating or constipation). Probiotics arm your body with healthy bacteria—to combat the bad. Opt for a symbiotic (probiotic PLUS a prebiotic), or don’t forget a prebiotic if you choose a probiotic supplement alone. Additionally, eat 1-2 condiment sized servings of fermented foods daily (i.e. sauerkraut, small doses of Kombucha, fermented yogurt).

Chasteberry. A natural herbal supplement that promotes hormonal balance with few major side effects. Clinical studies have shown it helps promote healthy menstrual cycles and correct menstrual irregularities caused by mild elevations of prolactin. In one double-blind study, chasteberry was shown to improve hormone levels, reestablish menstruation in women with amenorrhea and help achieve pregnancy in women with fettility problems. It may also relieve some of the discomfort associated with PMS once you get your period back. I love this one by Metagenics.

Essential Fatty Acids. Hormones are produced in the ovaries by using fats for fuel. An EFA supplement—like Fermented Cod Liver Oil or Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil—can be beneficial along with 1 tbsp MCT oil daily and at least 2 servings of healthy fats with meals.

Equi-Fem (Women’s Multi-Vitamin). The female multi-vitamin to take (by Biotics). Equi-Fem is packed with vitamins, minerals and glandular components known to support female endocrine function.Higher frequency of multi-vitamin use is actually associated with enhanced fertility and hormonal balance in general. I like how it includes methylated B vitamins and zincboth essential for all metabolic processes in our bodies and one of the most common deficiencies in women with amenorrhea and fertility issues. Take orally, 15-30 mg/day.

Magnesium. 2 out of 3 people do not get the recommended magnesium—known as the “calming” mineral (i.e. de-stressing mineral). In addition, Magnesium activates enzymes that control digestion, absorption and the use of proteins, fats and carbs. As we mentioned earlier, if you are not fully getting (or digesting) your energy and nutrient needs—your hormones suffer (and get stressed). Supplementation with a magnesium citrate version is more readily absorbable (like Natural Calm—a powder you mix in water) and can also aid in healthy bowel movements. Magnesium-rich foods also include pumpkin seeds, dark leafy greens, kelp, almonds, cashews, and dark chocolate (80% plus).

Liposomal Curcumin (Curcuma longa version). A natural “anti-inflammatory” for your gut and hormones, curcuma longa is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, and when delivered in a supplemental liposomal form, it’s more readily available to the body. Curcumin helps to regulate menses by cleaning the liver.

Rhodiola & Ashwaganda. Adaptogenic herbs that support of the body during times of increased demands and stress—mental and physical. Rhodiola rosea (also known as golden root and Arctic root) is best known for its ability to increase resistance to a variety of chemical, biological and physical stressors particularly by affecting the levels and activity of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Rhodiola may also enhance fertility. It’s been shown to boost thyroid function and improve egg maturation. One study of 40 women with amenorrhea and infertility showed that 100 mg of rhodiola twice daily for two weeks resulted in normal menses for 25 women—11 of whom became pregnant (Oyelowo, 2007; Gerasimova HD, 1970; Saratikov, 1987). Ashwagandha is also an herb that is often recommended to reduce stress, and the same dose (100 mg, 1 to 2 times daily) can be beneficial for those with high cortisol presentations in conjunction with Rhodiola or separate.

Note: Birth Control is a Band-Aid. Birth control is often like a band=aid for a missing period. It can seemingly help things get more regular, but leave you hanging—still with the underlying stressors—instead of addressing them. Instead of birth control, often times a pointed approach to your nutrition and smart supplementation can be a winning team. 

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