How I Got My Period Back - Healing infertility naturally
As I'm writing this, I'm 37 weeks pregnant and so excited about meeting our little boy. However, getting here wasn't easy. I struggled with infertility and absent periods for a long time and that's why I'd like to share with you how I actually got my period (and fertility) back.
It was December 2013 when my husband and I suddenly felt it: We were ready for a baby. It was on a Saturday night, right before we were leaving to go to a friend's Christmas party and the rest of that evening was such a happy blur. We were more excited than the day before we left on our world trip and suddenly, after years of not wanting children at all, we couldn't wait to hold our baby in our arms. What we didn't know was that it was going to be a tough journey that was going to take three years. Now, however, we're on the other side and we're counting down the days to my due date. I'm now ready to share the things I did to get my period (and fertility) back after many years of infertility.
On the Monday after that happy Saturday, I went to my GP to have my IUD removed. I had been on birth control since I was 16, first the pill and then the IUD. Removing the IUD was easy and didn't hurt, and I couldn't wait for my period to show up. Most people get their fertility back right after the IUD is removed, but mine didn't come. I waited a month, another month, and a few more, but it didn't show up. It was May, five months after my IUD was removed when I went back to the doctor. He checked my blood and found out my estrogen was too low to ovulate (that's why I didn't get a period either) and sent me to a gynecologist.
What followed was a long journey with different types of medication to help me ovulate and get my period. They all kind of worked, but I didn't get pregnant and after two years of not feeling well because of all the hormones, we decided to take a long break while we were on the waiting list for IVF. I took my last medication in March of 2016 and when we met our IVF doctor he basically told me there was no reason why I shouldn't ovulate: I was healthy and not underweight nor overweight. He was, however, willing to put me on the waiting list (which is about six months here in Norway). I didn't have to take any medication until it was our turn, so my husband and I decided to take it easy and enjoy our time together before we would start IVF.
A month later I got my first natural period, during my yoga Teacher Training. It took me a few months to get a more regular cycle, but by October of 2016 I was regular and ovulated every month. We postponed the IVF treatment, so I could get a chance to get pregnant naturally, and in January I finally got to hold that positive pregnancy test in my hands.
What happened that year? How did I get my period back, the natural way? What did I do? What did I not do?
Eating warming foods
I stopped juicing all together and changed my morning smoothies for warm oatmeal with lots of ginger. I swapped my lunch salads with soups and curries, and our dinners looked similar to that. Following the ideas of Ayurveda, my body had to stay warm to be able to ovulate, so I followed that rule.
I know this isn't always possible, but I made it my life's mission to avoid stress. I was very serious about my me-time and quiet time and never planned too much after work. That sounds very boring, but it was so calming and soothing.
Taking a magnesium supplement
I'm sure this supplement did so much for me. Magnesium was great for reducing tension in my body, as well as anxiety. I also took my regular supplements: vitamin B12 (I'm a vegetarian), vitamin D (I live in a northern country) and a probiotic (to keep my gut happy).
Although I'm a vegetarian, I tried to avoid soy products as much as I could when we were on our Trying To Conceive journey. Soy mimics estrogen in the body and since my estrogen levels weren't right, I didn't want to affect this negatively by eating tofu, tempeh, and other soy products.
Doing lots of meditation and easy yoga
Before this journey, I didn't have a regular meditation practice. I took classes every now and then but never had the patience to actually sit in silence at home. When I decided to change that, the effects were amazing. I felt so much more grounded and calm after my morning meditation, so meditation became my new addiction. I love meditating with a mantra and my mala beads, but I'm also a big fan of the app Headspace.
I also stopped doing Ashtanga yoga and focused more on slow flow classes, traditional Hatha yoga and, my great love, Yin yoga. I did this, together with walking, instead of stronger exercise like working with kettlebells and spinning.
Eating good fats and grains and gaining weight
Swapping my salads and liquid breakfasts with heavier, solid foods was a big change for me. I was used to light meals but decided I wanted to gain a bit more weight to see if that would have an effect on my fertility. I bet it did. I got some fat on my belly and was very okay with that, and I feel that this has created a safe place for my baby to be.
Bye bye coffee
This was a big one for me. I live in Oslo, the city with probably the best coffee and the most amazing baristas and roasters in the world, and I love good coffee. Saying goodbye to coffee was hard, but it was definitely a game-changer. I soon realized coffee actually gave me the jitters and I was so much calmer when I stopped drinking it. When I had a coffee again, after a few weeks without, I felt horribly nervous and my heart didn't stop racing for a few hours.
Making space for baby
The last two points on my list don't have to do with nutrition, stress or movement, but were more of a spiritual practice: firstly, making my home ready for a baby. I cleaned, I donated clothes, I made space in the closets and even gave my future baby a couple of empty shelves in the bedroom and bathroom. I wanted to let my body know that our home was ready and that we were ready to welcome a baby.
Working on being a woman
I'm not a very girly-girly woman, but when I embarked on my fertility journey, I quickly realized that I needed to work on being (and more importantly, feeling like) a woman. I took more me-time with girly things, like treating myself with a face mask and watching a girly series. I also started wearing more dresses and spent more time on hair and makeup. It felt great. I felt more feminine than ever before and really worked on embracing womanhood.
These are the things that worked for me. Although I got pregnant the natural way, I know that many of you struggle with that. I'm not at all against medication to help women get pregnant. I actually love that we live in an age where we CAN get pregnant, even when our bodies need a little bit of help. Please don't feel bad or ashamed if you do. You're fabulous and it doesn't matter how you get pregnant. I'll soon write an article about dealing with infertility and how to make the journey to getting pregnant doable and liveable. <3