If you haven’t had your period for several months, it can be very frustrating and hopeless. Perhaps you have tried a few natural methods, or even birth control, but nothing has seemed to work. If you are wondering how to get your period back in a natural way, luckily there are a few changes you can make to your diet that can help.
Why did you lose your period?
First let’s discuss why you lost your period in the first place. If you haven’t already, it’s best you speak to your primary care provider before implementing any of the tips in this article. There are several reasons your period may be missing and they may be able to pinpoint that and provide treatment specific to that reason.
In this article, I’m going to be focused on secondary amenorrhea, which is defined as not having a period for 3 months or irregular periods for 6 months.
A few reasons you may be experiencing secondary amenorrhea include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Hypothalamic amenorrhea
- Primary ovarian insufficiency (ex. Chemotherapy, Turner syndrome)
- Autoimmune disease
- Medications or cocaine
Nutrition plays a huge role when the cause of the secondary amenorrhea is hypothalamic amenorrhea, which could be caused by eating disorders, overall energy deficit, malabsorption or rapid weight loss.
When you speak to your primary care provider, they will want to know of any recent weight changes and changes to your diet. Be sure to be as honest as possible when answering these questions to ensure you receive the best care!
Can you get your period back naturally?
This is a tricky question and it really depends on why you lost your period. This is why I highly suggest speaking to your primary care provider. They can run tests to see why you lost your period and offer some recommendations.
If they believe the reason you lost your period is due to weight loss, low energy intake or an eating disorder, nutrition interventions can help. This being said, it’s best to work with a care team which includes a registered dietitian, especially if you have a diagnosed eating disorder.
What you should do to get your period back
There are several steps you can take to ensure your nutrition is adequate enough to get your period back. Luckily there are several evidence based strategies you can implement to help with this.
#1: Increase your daily calories
The most important step is to increase your daily calories. This is especially true if you have been in a calorie deficit and have lost weight over the last months. Weight gain should be achieved gradually, small increases every week or month. Along with this, it should be supervised by a dietitian, especially if you have a history of eating disorders.
How fast or gradual you should increase calories depends on your diet and weight history, which is why it is best to work with a professional to avoid complications. That being said, an increase in calories is the most important step and shouldn’t be skipped.
#2: Increase your daily fat and carbohydrate intake
It is important to ensure you are getting in enough fat and carbohydrates. This is important to ensure you are providing your body with enough energy and nutrients to properly produce adequate levels of hormones.
In a study conducted on female athletes with secondary amenorrhea, athletes worked up to a diet consisting of 60% carbohydrates and 25-30% fats, with protein covering the remaining percentages. This approach along with increase in caloric intake improved amenorrhea.
#3: Decrease amount and intensity of exercise
Finally, over exercising can be a huge contributor to secondary amenorrhea. This is due to the increased stress on the body as well as potential weight loss. This could look like the complete cessation of exercise for a period of time, or a reduction in frequency, length, or intensity of exercise.
This treatment may look different for everyone, especially those who are athletes, so be sure to work with a professional to see what the best approach may be for you. Everyone is different!
How long does it take to get your period back?
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly how long it will take for your period to return to normal. For some, they may start their period in 1-2 months, for others, it may take 1-2 years. It depends on the severity of your nutrition status, how long your period has been gone for, and how well you stick to your prescribed plan.
That being said, don’t give up! Even though it is a long process, continuing with the status quo, whether that is weight loss, extreme exercise, or an eating disorder, will only make things worse.
So here is my final advice for you: Remember you are not alone. Speak to your family members, friends, a counselor, whoever you need to get the support you need. It’s so much better when you have people on your side through the whole process.