Amenorrhea & Infertility

Editor's Note: For all those reading this now as of 2016 - I want to tell you there is a lot of hope and true opportunity for recovery.  I tell you this from a place of  having had two beautiful babies, periods, and marathons!  Please check out to see the book my colleagues and I wrote about the topic and how to to recover. We are here for you. You can do this!!

In January 2011, my husband and I began to talk about the idea of starting a family.  We were not ready exactly yet but knew we had to make some changes in our life before we wanted to start trying - you know, buying a house and running a marathon, the important things in life.
2011 Marine Corps Finisher

In preparation for this, in June 2011, I went off birth control pills and started taking Prenatal Vitamins.  The plan was for me to let my body regulate itself and then when the marathon was over to begin officially trying to conceive.  I waited for my period, but it never came.  After the marathon, we went back to my OB-GYN and she recommended Provera, an Estrogen hormone that is essentially supposed to jump start your body into having a period by causing a withdrawal bleed.  I took the first round in December 2011, waited, and then nothing.  They upped the dose, I waited and got nothing but 5 pounds of water weight, which decided, for good measure to stick around (lucky me).
In early January 2012, my husband and I went to see our first Reproductive Endocrinologist.   Lets just stay him and I did not see eye-to-eye.   He diagnosed me with Secondary Amenorrhea, which is true, but for there we diverge on our opinions.  He told me I needed to gain 10 pounds and drastically reduce my exercise and then to come see me in two months when I would magically be getting my period.  I starred at this man in utter disbelief, extremely angry.  I was healthy and fit.  I was at a healthy weight and BMI, why did I need to gain weight?!?  If running is so healthy, why did I need to stop or reduce it drastically.  And what if I gave all of this up and in return got nothing and became a "couch potato."
None to happy here

After leaving the office looking all hot and sweaty and not in a good way, I e-mailed mynutritionist and we talked more.  She explained her theory on what I was going through.  She started by telling me that many marathoners get pregnant and she did not feel it was the running exactly, although running marathons would not help me get pregnant per say.  She then explained that while my weight and calorie intake may be fine for me to live my daily life and feel satiated and look fit, it may not be enough even so.  My body essentially went into hibernation mode because it could not do EVERYTHING I wanted it to do.  It shut down everything I did not need it to do, including getting my period.  A few added calories daily and some additional rest days would help.  She left it up to me to decide on whether or not the Spring of 2012 would be a marathon season.  She asked me this
Is is marathon season or is it baby season?
I knew that I wanted it to be baby season and like all the other challenges that I set my Type A personality to we began trying even harder.  I gave up my marathon within a few days (easier than it sounds), I started eating more, and exercising less.  I soon, however, realized the added calories was just a bit too many for me and just went with the exercising less and eating more when I wanted or needed it. I began resting 2 days, strength training one, and doing cardio the other days but at a "moderate" pace.  No longer did I go for this....
Hot, Sweaty, and Sexy will have to wait I thought

Instead, I ran slow and steady and to try and just relax.  But long.   Just the idea of "relaxing" while running and not pushing HARD generally makes me a bit crazy.  But I wanted to do my best, I wanted to perform my hardest, thus it is not easy at all for me to just run.  I know, I know, this blog is called "Run for Fun," but I would be lying to all of you and myself if I did not tell you that part of the fun for me is going out and pushing hard and reaching for those goals.
Honoring Slow and Steady running, it is not all bad

However, I had new goal which, to me, was much more important than a new PR.  My goal was a baby and I decided, or rather my body, decided to subscribe to the theory that running too hard was just too much for right now.  Maybe for many running hard and having a baby is possible, and maybe that is possible for me too, but it did not seem like it.  My doctor and nutritionist wanted moderate exercise, so that is what I tried to do.  The theory behind it, very loosely, is that something in the endorphins from long distance running, or maybe from the added stress of running or the inability to replenish post long runs causes part of the problem.  Who really knows, but I went with less is more for right now.
During this time of slower running, I also began working with a Reproductive Endocrinologist and she is incredible.  She listens to me and thinks of us as a team.  I trust her and that means a lot.  When I first came to her, I did a lot of blood tests - that was not so much fun.
All day blood tests are not fun

In early February 2012, the blood tests told us, we should try to use Clomid to help me ovulate and get pregnant.  Clomid is supposed to help you get ready to ovulate, in my case anyway (I am no doctor).  My doctor gave me the lowest dose to start.  The goal was to grow a follicle and then get a shot of HCG to induce ovulation.  From there we have a 48 hour window for, as my doctor calls it, "Baby Making Time." We tried the Clomid and went back to see if there was growth, there was some but not enough and I was terribly disappointed.  Now we are waiting to see if there is any more growth before rethinking out plan.
At this point, late February 2012, my doctor has made me realize that I can no longer do these long slow and steady runs, that was time to "bite the bullet."  I made the decision to give up running just for now.  Instead, I can do 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week - yoga, pilates, walking, strength training, slow running.  While I was not told to gain weight, I am not avoiding it.  Something in me thinks that first doctor was right and it might help based on others experiences, so as hard as it is for me, I am pushing to eat as intuitively as possible and not avoid fats or proteins.
I have shared all of this for two reasons.  One is to open up to others and be there for others.  No one should have to go through this alone, but too many have.  So please comment, e-mail me etc.  and that us support each other.  The other reason is as a type of therapy for me - writing this allows me an outlet and I have also gained amazing supports along the way.  For this, I am so thankful.  Either way, I love to hear from you.  I am not a doctor, I do not have all the answers, but I can listen and be your friend.

Hope & Inspiration 

May 3, 2013 - Of late I realized that a lot of people come across my blog for two reasons (1) they want to know how to run while peeing - yes that is my top post and I believe an important one at that; and/or (2)  they have the unfortunate experience of dealing infertiliy or hypothelamic amenorrhea.  I receive about 1 to 4 e-mails a week asking about my experiences with this diagnosis and what ended up happening.   I eventually realized that I had not updated this page even though I had begun a pregnancy page.  

I did, thankfully, become pregnant and now have a wonderful baby boy - Lee Michael born November 23, 2012.   

I wrote this post which kind of describes what I thought "worked for me" although everyone is different.  I did begin a pregnancy page as well, when you get there, and I promise you will - keep the faith!

In the meantime, always feel free to contact me for support!  Infertility sucks!!! But a wise man once said "We can overcome."  And we will, we must!  If you want a baby, you will have one whether it be through adoption, natural pregnancy, or a little help to get pregnant. Reach out please.  More people go through it than you think.  Pregnancy, motherhood, infertility is all about support!