Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Truth - Ameno What?! Amenorrhea

 Disclaimer:  As you may have guessed from recent posts, some personal things have been going on in my life that I have not been 100% forthcoming with.   I always debate how much I want to share on this blog, and lately, I could be sharing more than I have.  After much consideration, I decided that it might be helpful for me and hopefully you all to open up a little more.  Not sure where this will take my blog but we will just give it a go and see what you all think and if it works.  I hope you will stick with me...

With great runs (and great running partners, husbands, and providers) comes, great clarity.  

Luckily for me, I am blessed today with all of those things, which could not have come at a better time because I really needed all of these things to come together to make some big decisions.   Today's run and conversations before, during, and after have led to some BIG decisions, as they often do (it is something about running that just brings those wise thoughts or crazy spouts of energy).  I am not sure where these decisions will lead, if they will change as we go, or if they will stay the same, but for this moment this is where we are at (and by tomorrow I may even be somewhere else, stay tuned).

The Big Decisions of 2012
Big Decision # 1 - I will not be running the NJ Marathon, if possible, I will do the half.  Sigh.

I love marathons, there will always be another marathon.

Big Decision # 2 - I will increase my calorie intake by 200 calories a day, if not more.

White Chocolate French Toast here I come!

Big Decision # 3 - I will cut back training to 4 cardio sessions a week and 1 strength training sessions followed by two full days of rest (or a day of full rest and a day of Stretch, Flow, & Relaxation Yoga).

Me and my elliptical.  Will you miss me? I promise to visit.

Now the explanation, and like I said, we are getting a little more personal here.  I hope it can benefit us all. While Aaron and I are still very young,  we have hopes of starting a family in the near future.  We have been together for 8 years and are ready to add an addition to our home.  The only problem being is to add that someone, namely a baby, you need to get pregnant.  To get pregnant, generally, you need to get your period.  I am not pregnant and I am not getting my period.  This is, as you would guess, problematic.

No Aaron not that kind of baby, close though.

Let's back up and give you the whole story.  Until July, I was on the pill and getting regular periods, most likely due to the Pill.  The combination of hormones in the Pill, estrogen and progesterone, allowed me to have regular monthly periods, keeping me healthy and my bones protected.  In July, I went off the Pill and have not had my period since.

My doctor told me to wait, that some women take up to 3 months to re-regulate.  I waited, but nothing happened.  While this was ideal for marathon training, it was not so great for baby world.  After the marathon, I went back to my doctor and we tried another hormone, Provera - a hormone meant to essentially "jump start" your body into having a period.  Again, no luck.

Thursday, I saw a Reproductive Endocrinologist.  In a very blunt and scientific manner, he looked at my labs and told me that I should stop exercising and sit on the couch and eat french fries (and yes that is what he said).    I was diagnosed with exactly what I thought I would be diagnosed with - Secondary Amenorrhea.

SecondaryAmenorrhea occurs when a woman who was previously menstruating stops menstruating.  It is, in essence, an absence of a period.  While some might rejoice in this, it is not a good thing and it can have negative consequences if not treated.

Clearly, regardless of the "baby factor" we are taking this very seriously.  It is not something to play around with.  In comes the dilemma,  what causes it and how to treat it.  There are a number of opinions and causes.  Some causes include natural ones, hormonal imbalances and structural issues.    None of these fit me as far as we can tell.  What does, however, fit me is these other "lifestyle causes" including stress, low body weight, and excessive exercise (maybe, it is debatable if this is actually a cause).

The "prescription" from my doctor, as noted, was to gain weight (10 lbs) and drastically reduce my exercise.  But not every doctor subscribes to this theory. My nutritionist, Nancy Clark, argues that it is not the marathons but the caloric deficit that is problematic.   In essence, my body does not have the calories it needs to sustain life or a period and do all that I am doing.  Increase the calories, reduce some exercise, and see results.

Thursday night when I came home from the doctor, I was fairly distraught.  The idea of just gaining 10 lbs and cutting out almost all exercise seemed a little much for me to handle.  After doing some further research (thanks Google) and talking with Nancy, it seems that there are other options.  Yet even further I feel the need to discuss with more doctors and get more opinions on which is the correct route to go for me.

In the past few days, I have talked with a lot of friends and professionals.  I have ridden a bit of an emotional roller coaster and I have made the above decisions.  However, getting to these decisions was not easy.  In some respects, after gathering more information, these decisions may change again...But for now, let's start here, with how I came to this decision....

To Be Continued...

Have you had any experience with Amenorrhea? Do you struggle to decide how much to share if you blog?

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.  I am not providing advice as a professional but sharing my story. 

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