My very first period at the age of 12 was a nightmare. It came on the very same day my maternal grandfather, my Papa, passed away. It was completely unexpected, and because my mom was in a state of shock – I had no one to ask about what I was experiencing.
From that moment on, my periods were always shitty. Many long days of heavy bleeding, pain that made me want to vomit and irregular like a sunny day in Canadian winter.
At 16, I went on the pill for contraceptive reasons. This was the first time in my life my periods were actually “regular”, although at the time no one told me I wasn’t having a “true” period.
Fast forward 7 years, and I’m in nutrition school where I learned about the potential negative effects of birth control. It scared the shit out of me- I didn’t want cancer, blood clots and infertility!
That was the last day I ever took a birth control pill.
Four months later, and still no period. I couldn’t understand it, why after so many years of “regular periods” on the pill, was I feeling like a moody lunatic and not bleeding?
My doctor (upon much prodding) did some testing, and I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Well, that’s great- but it did nothing to bring back my periods. Neither did my physician’s suggestion of more birth control, and Metformin.
I was lost, I felt completely out of control.
I was working in a health food store at the time, and I tried everything. I ate all the organic stuff in the store. I spent my whole paycheck on supplements.
I consulted with a friend and colleague of mine- she was kind of like the ‘mom’ in that workplace, always with the right advice, and chilled out demeanour. Still nothing.
I can’t even explain the relief when I finally got my first period off the pill– it was like my whole body and mind had reset in an instance.
But it was short-lived. My next period didn’t arrive for 3 more months.
I felt defective, like not a “real” woman. Not at all feminine, and really just plain broken.
How did I ever get here at the tender age of 23? Why could other women – older, younger, skinnier, fatter than me – not even have to think about their periods?
Why would their periods just show up, and they could still look stunning and carry on like shit-all was happening?
Ugh, the tears I cried.
And back again I went into the vicious cycle of being moody for no good reason, hiding my ever-increasing cystic acne, and feeling like an overstuffed tube of toothpaste in my clothes- squishing and squeezing out of every nook and cranny.
Over that three month time period, I discovered a few things about periods and PCOS. I discovered that there were some underlying contributing factors to my lack of cycles, to the irregularity and other symptoms I was experiencing.
Now, about 6 years later, I easily maintain predictable periods. They are super easy too- no more vomit-inducing pain, no more heavy flow.
Four days of bleeding bliss, if you can imagine it.
I want you to experience this bleeding bliss too, beautiful lady.
Below I’m sharing 3 things I used to get my period back. These simple strategies are what made me feel human again. Womanly again. Worthy again.
These simple strategies are what the women in my PCOS Bootcamp program use to bring their periods back too.
3 Strategies I Used to Bring Back My Period
#1: Healthy Fats at Breakfast
This was the very first thing I did. Up until this point, I had no idea that fats were healthy. I totally believe in the low-fat myth- that eating fat would make me fat and make me die an early death.
But the thing was- I WAS fat, even though I was hardly getting any fat from my diet. #WTF
So I started by eating high-fat smoothies, using things like coconut oil and almond butter. Sometimes I would make a “bulletproof” tea, or have eggs and bacon.
And then my periods started coming every 45-60 days, instead of every 90-120 days.
Research told me that blood sugar and insulin resistance were key things to address for PCOS, and the fats were doing just that.
Now, balancing blood sugar issues with foods (like healthy fats) is the very first thing modified in diet and lifestyles for the women in my PCOS Bootcamp program- so they too can have healthy, regular menstrual cycles.
#2: Yoga, Yoga, Yoga!
For whatever reason, I couldn’t seem to get my cycles below 40 days after about a year of trying and using more healthy fats.
I was experiencing a lot of anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness because I wasn’t able to get my period to that “perfect” 28 day cycle – I mean, I was a nutritionist! Talk about shame.
One day, I decided for my mental health it would be better if I focused on my mental/emotional well-being, instead of obsessing over ovulation and periods.
So I started doing yoga every day. Sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes 90 minutes- whatever I had the time and energy for.
And I finally broke 40 days – I had a 38 day cycle.
I literally cried my eyes out – I couldn’t believe it! How could my periods get better even though I wasn’t focusing on them?
I realized it must be stress (and how I reacted to it). I dug deeper into this and found that stress (and the resulting stressed-out body) would prevent my body from being able to produce the right hormones to keep my periods coming like clockwork.
Now, I use this same insight and strategy with the Cysters in my PCOS Bootcamp program to help them manage stress in a healthy way so their bodies can do what they need to do- ovulate and bleed on the reg.
#3: Smart Supplementation
I wasn’t totally satisfied though – I wanted an even more regular cycle. I wasn’t necessarily shooting for the “perfect” 28 day cycle anymore, as by then I knew you can have healthy, regular, fertile cycles without them being 28 days long.
But I wanted under 35 days. Yoga and fats weren’t doing it.
So I turned to supplements.
I’d already used a mountain of different supplements, most of them doing nothing at all. So much money I wasted trying to figure this out!
So I thought- how can I support my body in a similar way as the fats and yoga, but with supplements? How can I choose supplements with similar actions to bring my periods even closer together?
And immediately I thought: blood sugar. From everything I’d researched, blood sugar imbalance and insulin resistance were really at the core of PCOS.
And this is exactly why adding the healthy fats to my diet was so helpful.
A supplement for blood sugar! This must be exactly what I need. More insulin sensitivity support for my body, and for my poor, confused ovaries.
Through my research I discovered inositol, a member of the B vitamin family, that is well-researched in having huge potential benefits for PCOS.
But there were two types of inositol, so which one should I choose?
Then I found it. Like a beacon of light in the middle of a dark, black ocean.
A product, without fillers, or weird extra ingredients, that contained both forms of inositol in the exact ratio needed for the body. It’s called Ovasitol.
I began taking that, and had my first ever 30 day cycle.
It’s now the #1 supplement I recommend for the women in my PCOS Bootcamp program.
My relationship with my period is much different now, much better. She and I have an understanding- if I give her what she needs (healthy food, adequate rest, movement and self-care), she will give me what I need – a healthy, regular menstrual cycle that allows me to be ME.
This is always my goal and my MISSION when I’m supporting other PCOS Cysters on their journeys, and exactly why I created my PCOS Bootcamp program.