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Amenorrhea with decreased exercise and semi-primal eating

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  • Amenorrhea with decreased exercise and semi-primal eating

    Background: I have started eating more primal-like the past two months (reducing grains). I am a "chronic cardio" exerciser and race Ironman distance triathlon for the past two years. I'm 31 years old, 5'5'', 132-136, 16% body fat - none of these number have changed (well except my age of course over the past 2-3 years. My cycle has been very regular throughout all my training, even in the height of Ironman training.

    Only recently, after taking a break from racing and training (most recently completed an Ironman in October) and focusing on eliminating grains from my diet, my cycle lengthened (by 5 days) and now I'm 12 days late this month. I've taken two home pregnancy tests and both were negative. No weight gain/loss. No major life stress. The biggest change is not eating grain, but even that has not been consistent (e.g., occasionally I have eaten desserts with flour, but no bread, etc). I do not count carbs (since weight loss isn't a major focus). My exercise has significantly decreased in volume.

    Typical breakfast: hard boiled eggs (2)/egg bake, coffee; lunch: carrots, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, salad with chicken or tuna, apple or pear; snack almonds with greek yogurt; dinner: big salad, or chicken; dessert is usually fruit.

    Any input, advice or direction would be greatly appreciated! My husband and I are hoping to get pregnant in the near future and this has me very concerned. THANK YOU in advance for your input.

  • #2
    I'd suggest going to see your doctor. They may want to run some tests on hormone levels. You might just be experiencing a change in your cycles (it can happen when you hit your 30s), but it could be more significant, and if you're planning on having kids, it's a good idea to get it checked out now rather than later.

    You might check out Krista's experience at 37 and her follow-up post a couple of years later.

    Rant 59 September 2010: I’m Not Old; I’m 37 ::
    Rant 65 October 2012: Pray for Mojo ::
    “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

    Owly's Journal


    • #3
      Are you around a new woman a lot lately? Like a new job or something? Women's cycles will change to match the women around them.
      High Weight: 225
      Weight at start of Primal: 189
      Current Weight: 174
      Goal Weight: 130

      Primal Start Date: 11/26/2012


      • #4
        It may be that you didn't ovulate this month for some reason. Since you are interested in your fertility anyway, have a read of Taking Charge of Your Fertility: Welcome to Taking Charge of Your Fertility

        It tells you how to tell if you have ovulated and where you are in your cycle. Very useful, especially when wanting to get pregnant later on. The book gives useful advice on unusual readings and how to interpret them.

        It's still possible that you are pregnant and the tests are not showing up yet.
        My website:


        • #5
          What you eat definitely affects your cycle. When I was vegetarian I would regularly go a few months without menstruating, and when I did it would only last a couple of days. Since I started eating meat I'm getting it once a month, for at least 4 days.

          Here's an article on how grains affect fertility: 10 Reasons to Avoid Grains and go Gluten Free | Natural Fertility Breakthrough

          Your cycle can be a good indicator of your fertility. Here's an article about length of the overall cycle and fertility: Staying Healthy: How menstruation affects fertility

          I haven't researched how the length of the menstruating phase relates to fertility, but I imagine that your last period being five days long is definitely a positive thing (and very possibly connected to giving up grains). If this period is late it may be that your cycle is changing (getting longer - apparently a good thing for fertility), or that your body is adjusting.

          Personally I wouln't be too concerned but if you are worried you can do a fertility test, or speak to a naturopath or a fertility doctor (I have zero faith in general doctors about these things...!)

          Edit: You should also look into the connection between exercise and menstruation. Usually it's said to cause missed periods, but it's not unusual for female endurance athletes to bleed between periods. Neither of those relate to you, but maybe the level of exercise you were engaging in before was regulating your cycle in some way. Lifestyle changes will affect it, and in these cases it's not necessarily related to fertility. Just a thought...
          Last edited by YogaBare; 01-02-2013, 04:58 AM.
          "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

          In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

          - Ray Peat


          • #6
            Fats. You are not eating enough. Also that diet looks low calorie.
            Your body is genetically coded to respond to this, exactly the way that you describe. Try adding olive oil, coconut oil and butter to your diet - I'm sure that you've got some in the kitchen.

            Obviously, go see the doctor.


            • #7
              Thank you to everyone for your comments and links to additional info. I just find it strange to be very regular for so many years and suddenly being late - while recently reducing exercise and eating, what I consider, healthier.
              To comment on the above replies: I'm not around new women. I'd like to be pregnant because this would all make sense then, but I figured it would show up on a home test by now. I agree that my diet looks low calorie, but I do eat a lot. Usually salads have avocado, I eat nuts, cook with coconut oil and eat more red meat that I used to....

              Thanks again for the info! It is greatly appreciated!


              • #8
                you might want to have your prolactin level checked in a fasting blood test. Research high prolactin levels and see if something resonates.


                • #9
                  I don't know if this is comforting or not, but I have been experiencing a very similar phenomenon. I ate mostly primal for about a year and a half and never had any issues with menstruation, but when I gave up dairy, my cycle lengthened by exactly five days (to 35 days total), and now I am also 5 days late from the new cycle (so 40 days total and still waiting).

                  Of course, as a woman, there is a slight concern, but any type of small dietary change has the chance of causing a larger change to your body. I'm also trying to wait it out, but agree that if you are concerned, check with a doctor. At the very least, knowing it is normal might make you feel better, reduce the stress of thinking about it all the time, and then help your body get back to normal.

                  Let me know what happens, as I'm getting curious too!


                  • #10
                    I will keep you posted. I didn't think, what I consider to be a pretty slight change in diet, would affect my cycle so much. The first month I was 5 days late and currently I am 13 days late...I plan on waiting to see if I just skipped a month and it picks back up before going to the doctor.


                    • #11
                      one way it could is that a lot of hormones are stored in fat. When you start burning fat these hormones come out into the blood stream and have to be metabolized by the liver.