It was 2004. I was in my intense Pilates apprentice program, learning to become a Pilates instructor.  During the program, I decided that I wanted to become the healthiest version of myself and decided after almost ten years, that it was time to get off the birth control pills. Not only did it make me a crazy person for one week every 28 days, but something about having a controlled period month after month didn’t seem like the healthiest idea to me anymore. I quit cold turkey in November of ’04.

Fast forward to November of ’05. My period had been a no-show ever since I  had quit the pill a full year before. I had heard that it isn’t uncommon to go a few months without a period after getting off the pill but by a year later, I was beginning to really worry. My family and friends were getting worried, too. My boyfriend at the time (now husband), Karl, and my parents, insisted I go see a doctor. Though hesitant to be put back on some sort of medication, I followed the advice of Karl and my parents and went to see my OBGYN that month. Sure enough, the doctor gave me two options: 1. Go back on the pill to regulate my period or 2. Try Metformin, a drug prescribed to patients with Type II Diabetes. Apparently Metformin had a side effect that started women’s periods when they had disappeared. She said she had no idea why I wasn’t menstruating as I was a healthy weight and everything else looked good in the ultrasound. The visit was maybe twenty minutes.

I did not like the idea of option 1 – I felt like going back on birth control would only suppress the problem and not solve it. What was I going to do years down the road when I wanted to have children?

It seemed my only option was the second one. I began taking Metformin one tablet twice a day and was told to up the dosage to two pills three times a day when my body was ready. Well, my body never was ready. It HATED Metformin! I was nauseous every time I took it, was EXHAUSTED constantly and had very little appetite. Even when I picked up the prescription from the pharmacy the pharmacist said to me, “You look so young and healthy. Why is your doctor making you take this?” I was wondering the same damn thing.

Six weeks after giving the medication a try, I decided that wouldn’t be the answer for me; not only did I not get my period, but I couldn’t go on feeling like that every day of my life. I spent the next three months taking nothing, and still no sign of my period.  I was starting to feel hopeless. I had a conversation one day with my sister, Larissa, who casually mentioned to me that she had a friend whose friend had also struggled with the same issue; that person had come to realize that her diet – specifically her intake of soy – had made her lose her period. This really struck a chord with me as I had been eating a lot less meat and a lot more soy in the last couple years of my life. Hearing this from my sister, I knew in my gut this probably had something to do with what was going on in my body and knew exactly who to call.

I went and met with a clinical nutritionist, Debra Santelli Delson, who specifically uses food and plant-based supplements as medicine. Immediately she made me feel so much better. She spent over an hour with me, telling me how many women come to her with the same issue and that she can always successfully get their bodies back on track. She helped me to realize that I had never had a normal period growing up and that meant that she and I would have to work to regulate it naturally for the first time in my life.

This nutritionist absolutely changed my life. Within three months of working with her, more than 18 months since going off the pill, I got my period back, totally naturally. She had me cleansing, taking all sorts of different plant and herb based supplements and drastically changed the way that I ate. Debra so thoroughly described how the body works and how each and every part affect each other so that I completely understood why I wasn’t getting my period until now and how we could change my body for the better. It was truly incredible.

Taking the natural route was definitely not the fastest, cheapest or easiest way to go about fixing my problem. It took over three years to have a regular cycle, with a lot of discipline and dedication on both of our parts. But through the entire process, I kept reminding myself that someday when I want to get pregnant, I am setting myself up for a healthy, natural pregnancy.

Here I am, over six years since I first met Debra, pregnant, after just a couple of months of “trying”.  The most important thing I learned from my journey is that I should always trust my gut. Doctors, nutritionists, therapists, trainers, teachers…have a wealth of great information from so many different perspectives that only you and your gut can tell you who has the right information for you.  As clichéd as it sounds, I truly now understand what people mean when they say, “follow your heart”, and I hope you will, too.

Written by Lana House

Owner, House Pilates