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Why don't I menstruate?
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NJ888 posted:
I'm 20 years old, 5'4-5'5", 110 pounds and haven't had a period for nearly two years.

I find this situation convenient and desirable, but I'm afraid it's not the healthiest, and I'm wondering why my body decided to call it quits. First and foremost, I have never had any sexual activity in my life, nor have I ever taken birth control.

Up until age 15, I was at a normal weight for my height, but I had never actually started my first period. I became anorexic at 15 and was about 87 pounds (at 5'4") at my worst, so if I would have otherwise had menarche around that age, I probably prevented it.

Between 16 and 17, I slowly regained weight; at 17, I was started on progesterone and, many months later, at 107 pounds, I finally had my first period. For 5 months in a row, I had perfectly timed, 2-3 day, normal periods and went up to 120 pounds.

Then, right before my 18th birthday, they just stopped. I went to college and enjoyed this freedom, but when Christmas break rolled around, the concerned gynecologist gave me a 10-pill regimen of progesterone again, which, 7 pills later, give me Niagara Falls for a week. And then it never retuned.

Between 18 and 20, my weight has gone up and down; at 19, I had a particularly horrible semester and dropped below 100 pounds. Now I am around 110, and have been at least this weight for over 6 months. My college life is horrifically stressful (I'm a computer science major with 5 work-intensive classes and a job!), which may be a contributing factor to my continued utter lack of any menstruation whatsoever.

Anyway, what might be behind this? To summarize (sorry to ramble) some important parts:

--I started my period at 107 pounds, so why doesn't it happen at 110?
--I walk about 1 hour every day; otherwise, no intensive physical activity or sports
--I tend to eat the mostly same things almost every day...definitely a routine
--I got my thyroid checked a couple of months ago and everything was completely normal, so the gyno didn't make me take progesterone again

I feel blessed but baffled, and maybe should be a little worried...
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Tristan20 responded:
When your body is in a state of stress, certain things are sacrificed in order to keep functioning properly. Perhaps your fluctuation in weight throughout the years, paired with the high stress levels in college, has made your body go into survival mode, which can mean cutting out periods. Stress has made me nearly a month late before, and although it's kind of my body to not put me through the discomfort of a menstrual cycle when times are tough, it really adds even more stress (usually thoughts of pregnancy, disorders, diseases, and every other possible explanation run through my head before I even consider that stress is a factor). Also, going on and off of birth controls puts a lot of stress on the body and can make regulating your hormone levels a pretty difficult task. I tried the depo shot (which is mostly progesterone I believe, but don't quote me on that), and the side effects lasted for months after it was out of my system. If I were you, I'd talk to a couple of different gynos and get a few opinions on the situation. And eat more, girl!
 
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fcl responded:
110 for your height is underweight for 5'5". Your body tends to stop ovulating when you are underweight or do not have sufficient body fat. No ovulation, no period. Gain a few pounds and things should get better.

You can also consider your lifestyle to be a contributing factor too. Stress has a negative effect on ovulation. How about taking up something like meditation or relaxation lessons or even just go swimming several times per week?
 
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xc_runner replied to fcl's response:
You are not that underweight, and you should be able to menstruate again once you make some lifestyle changes. I had a brief encounter with anorexia/bulimia in college and ammenorhea, so I understand where you're coming from. Making the changes listed below, and gaining as little as 3-5 lbs should help your body regain its cycle. Since you've struggled with anorexia, you can focus your obsessive/compulsive tendencies on healthy eating and some sort of outlet/hobby that makes you healthy.

1) balanced diet - focus on veggies, fruit, PROTEIN and FAT which are essential for hormone production (organic/non-processed). you don't need to eat many more calories if any, they just need to come from healthy sources. I know this can be hard when you have an eating disorder but your body really needs nutrition in order to ovulate/menstruate. irregular eating patterns will also mess with your hormones (eg binging, purging, and regular fasting)
2) sleep - you need to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night for normal hormone production and to regulate stress hormones. in addition, sleep is really important for memory and learning.
3) minimize high intensity/long duration workouts - excessive exercise can put a lot of stress on the body and interfere with your LH surge. incorporate swimming, walking, pilates and yoga to reduce stress and boost mood.
4) find some other activity to focus on other than food/school/exercise - finding a hobby, job or activity that allows you to socialize and be happy can do wonders for your health
5) avoid taking birth control or any artificial hormones - these will prevent you from becoming in touch with your feminine self and regain back your natural cycle
6) flirt with boys - engaging with boys/men may awaken your sexual energy and help you regain your cycle. women that have sex regularly also have more regular cycles.


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