I am 32 years old and (I kid you not) I JUST got my period on my own for the first time a few months ago.
I know this may seem odd to many of you, but it was just my body's "norm". Or least I THOUGHT it was.
When I was 18, my mom took my to the GYN for the first time because I hadn't had a cycle yet. They put me on low-dose birth control pills (ugh) even though I wasn't sexually active in order to get things going. It took a little while to regulate things, but they FINALLY became regular around age 21.
A few years later, after being married for a year, my husband and I started trying to have a baby. Of course I stopped my birth control and we started the (long) process. My periods had become irregular a few months before that - likely because I had lost 15-20 pounds thanks to my obsession with low-calorie foods and excessive cardio.
As I expected, my period never showed during our baby-making wait. I went to my GYN, who started giving me more hormones to help me have a cycle and (hopefully) ovulate. Nut-uh. Didn't happen. I was diagnosed with PCOS and borderline hypothyroidism and started on medication. To make a long story short: 3 years, 3 IUIs, and 2 rounds of IVF later, we welcomed our daughter, Reagan, into the world.
After my first pregnancy, my period didn't come back on it's own - not that I really expected it to. I had an IUD placed so that I wouldn't have to take any more hormones while we decided if we wanted to have another baby. When we made the decision to start trying again, I had the IUD removed and had ONE period, likely just "withdrawal bleeding" (which is totally normal).
After a few months of no cycles, we went to see our fertility doctor again. After another round of IVF, we got pregnant with our son, Reid. I had my tubes tied during the c-section, so I didn't have to go on any form of birth control following that pregnancy (whew).
I breastfed him for almost 9 months. I sort of expected to MAYBE have a cycle once I stopped, buuuut good ole Aunt Flo never showed. While most people would think this is a blessing, it's actually a sign for good health for your body to have a normal period. It means your hormones are balanced, your body is happy, and things are in good working order. (Also, having a thicker uterine lining can actually increase the risk of reproductive cancer. Umm, no thanks!)
Ok, back to what I was saying. After a couple of months with no cycle, I read about the menstrual benefits of an herb called ashwaganda.
Ashwaganda (AKA "Indian Ginseng") is an herb that is used in traditional Indian medicine for: enhancing memory function, reducing stress, increasing energy levels, and (the reason why I'm taking it) balancing hormones by supporting thyroid function.
While they say the verdict is still out on whether or not it is beneficial for people battling infertility, studies DO show that it may help to regulate cycles by both balancing hormones and reducing stress. So if cycle regulation is one of the issues you're facing while trying to get pregnant, well then this herb may actually be your friend!
Some people may say that's bologna (cough*myhusband*cough), but I am a firm believer that this is what worked for me! I can say that because I conducted my own research.
I started taking 2 capsules of Organic India ashwagandha (geesh, that's a hard word to keep spelling out!) once a day around the second week of October. On October 28th, I had my first ever period. [Cue angels singing.] Granted, it was a doozy. I mean, I felt like I had the flu for two days beforehand and I had to take a nap both days (sooo not like me). But then when it started, those flu-like symptoms went away and I had a bonified cycle for about five days.
I continued taking the capsules every day. Around the 30 day mark, there was no sign of my period, which confused me. I thought maybe it wasn't the ashwagandha after all! I kept taking it and Aunt Flo showed back up - seven weeks on the dot from the first cycle.
From then on, every seven weeks, my cycle has continued to come. I guess that's just my body's idea of "regular". A few weeks ago, I decided to stop taking the capsules about a week before I was due again to see what happens. I stopped it on March 12th (it was due around March 18th). I wrote that date down on my calendar and then tried not to think about it again so that stress wouldn't be a factor. Well, that date came and...nothing. Nada.
After it had been long enough to ensure I had truly "missed" that cycle (and NO, I'm not pregnant! Ha!), I began taking the herb again on March 30th. On April 4th, my period started without any warning. That's when I knew there was some truth to the theory that ashwagandha really does help balance hormones.
So, is this herbal supplement really for you? I honestly can't tell you that. Yes, I'm a nurse, but I'm not a doctor. I would definitely discuss it with your GYN or family doctor before making that decision for yourself. Remember, too, that hormonal imbalances can also be due to a poor diet or something your body is intolerant to (for more about that, check out this post), so I recommend taking a good look at what your diet consists of if you've been dealing with hormonal issues. Perhaps those issues are something that could be resolved with some diet changes instead of having to take a supplement.
[Please also keep in mind that while ashwagandha can help set the stage for pregnancy, it should not be taken in large doses during pregnancy. So if you think you may be pregnant, please stop taking it and talk to your doc.]
I'd love to hear any comments or questions you may have, so feel free to leave them below or email me (if you want them to remain private)! I'll be sending positive hormonal vibes y'all's way - haha!
*This is in no way a sponsored post. I just found this organic, all natural brand during my research and honestly really like their product.