Blogilates creator Cassey Ho shared this candid and very important YouTube video about what she says is a topic that no one talks about — losing your period (called amenorrhea). All the stuff that goes along with bleeding every month like bloating, cramps, a crappy mood, breakouts, and the extra time in the bathroom are annoying and uncomfortable, so not getting your period may seem like a bit of a blessing, but it can actually be a sign of something serious and potentially dangerous. "Because this is a fitness channel," Ho says in the video, "I wouldn't be surprised if you lost your period because of overexercising or undereating," which, Ho admits, she's done a few times in her life.
Ho shares about her high school tennis team experience, and how for four years in a row, she'd lose her period during every tennis season for three or four months. She also lost her period in 2012 when she was training for a bikini competition, working out several hours a day while eating very few calories (as suggested by her bodybuilding coach). "It's not healthy. Don't do it," Ho says.
Skipping one period can be normal, but missing three or more months in a row is not. While losing your period can happen for many reasons, including excessive exercise and undereating, it's important that you see your doctor. They can help determine exactly the cause and can connect you with the right experts who can help and create a plan to get your cycle back on track.
Overexercising and undereating can affect your mood and sleep, cause headaches, cause fatigue, and prevent muscle growth, which makes it hard for athletes to reach their goals. It can also lead to other disordered eating habits, like being preoccupied with food, psychotherapist Lynsey McMillan, MSc, explained in a previous post.
But one serious aspect of amenorrhea is that it's part of the female athlete triad, which Ho mentions is a problem defined as the combination of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. This means the disordered eating habits that can cause you to lose your period can also cause bone loss. This can lead to bone fractures and also affect the strength of your bones later in life. Amenorrhea can also increase your risk for heart disease. That's scary, and so not worth pushing your body this way.
"I know I always say push yourself, but not like this," Ho says. "Not over the edge." If you've lost your period and you're on a superrestrictive diet plan or an intense exercise plan, talk to your doctor or gynecologist to get help. And if you've lost your period even though you're eating well, talk to a doctor to figure out what's going on. Your health is the most important thing you have, so do everything you can to preserve it.