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My Doctor Said I Stopped Getting My Period Due to My Eating Habits

Published: January 25, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I'm 14 and when I stared my period I was 12, then it stopped and I haven't had it since. My doctor said it's from my poor eating habits, I'm concerned about not having my period does to my body, like breast growth, ability for carry a baby, etc.
Signed: My Doctor Said I Stopped Getting My Period Due to My Eating Habits

Dear My Doctor Said I Stopped Getting My Period Due to My Eating Habits,

Poor eating habits can lead to irregular periods or periods stopping altogether. When you have had your period and then it stops for at least three months while you are of child-bearing age, this is called secondary amenorrhea. Severely restricting the amount of calories you eat suppresses the release of hormones your body needs in order to ovulate. Basically the reproductive system shuts down due to malnourishment.

There are physiological consequences of amenorrhea:

  • Infertility. Research has shown that amenorrhea can negatively affect fertility. But the sooner a woman returns to a regular menstrual cycle, the chances of being fertile are increased. The longer a woman goes without having her period, the more likely she will not be able to get pregnant on her own.
  • A loss in estrogen levels. A loss in estrogen levels will cause hormonal imbalances which can lead to night sweats, loss of sleep, frequent wakening and increased irritability.
  • A depletion of calcium. If the body is not producing enough estrogen it is unable to maintain healthy levels of calcium in the bones. This is referred to as osteopenia, which means there is a thinning of bone mass. Women with osteopenia or osteoporosis (which often follows untreated osteopenia), have bones that will break more easily and do not heal as well or as quickly as women with a healthy bone mass.
  • Hormonal imbalances. The hormonal imbalances that cause amenorrhea can also cause excess body and facial hair, acne, and lowering of the voice.

 

If your doctor has already determined that your lack of periods is due to poor eating habits, then it is very important for you to make some changes to your diet. If this is an issue of not knowing what foods a healthy diet consists of or a problem with access to healthy foods, then it is important to speak with your doctor about it. Your school nurse or school counselor would also be able to provide resources for you and your family if access to healthy foods is an issue.

If you are intentionally restricting your food intake due to an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa, then it is important that you receive help from medical and mental health professionals. If you live in northern New Jersey, you can contact the Eating Disorders Program at Goryeb Children’s Center at Overlook Medical Center at 908-522-5757.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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