How To Get Pregnant After An Eating DisorderAre you wondering if you could ever have a healthy pregnancy or even get pregnant at all? If so, this article is for you...
Many women having a history of eating disorders (or still struggling) are often wondering if they could ever have a healthy pregnancy or even get pregnant at all.
In this blog post, I will not only try to answer these questions in details but I will also give you tips and bits of advice to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy.
You’ll not only learn what might block you from getting pregnant but also what you can do about it, how to balance your hormones and prepare your body for an easy and healthy pregnancy… with a healthy baby as an end result.
Let’s start by getting something über clear: an eating disorder in itself can’t make you infertile!
BUT it can impact a few things that could make things trickier to get pregnant – such as your weight, your stress levels, your hormonal balance, your nutrition, and your general health, which are all key factors in order to get pregnant and have a healthy baby.
That also means that as soon as you address these issues, your health is going to get back into balance and your body will get back to normal, making sure you can accomplish what it needs: ensuring the continuity of life, what we are born to do (but not only 😀 ).
Getting pregnant and creating life, as magical as it is, is our birthright as women. We are purposefully designed to create life and have babies. This is our most profound role and the essence of life itself. So never let someone tell you that you can’t get pregnant (may it be you or your doctor).
Never take this for granted, do your researches and get your body back into balance!
From my own experience and observing patients and friends, I can clearly say that difficulties to get pregnant (or get your periods regularly), as well as difficult pregnancies, all come from a health imbalance in the first place.
So let’s look at what can stop you from getting pregnant…
The first thing you have to know is that the only thing that is stopping you from getting pregnant is the fact that you’re not ovulating (many things can get in the way though). But contrary to what you might think, it’s not because you have your periods that you’re ovulating, even when you’re not on the pill. Most of the time, it’s when you have a short (less than 25 days) or a long (over 35 days) cycle that you might not be ovulating regularly.
To calculate your cycle properly, check this.
So let’s look at what could stop you from ovulating regularly.
But before I start I want you to know that it’s totally normal to have anovulatory cycles from time to time. What we need to look at here is if you have difficulties to ovulate or not.
1. Being on the contraceptive pill for too long
The contraceptive pill switches your hormonal system off. So, as long as you are on the pill you’re not ovulating and you’re not having real periods.
That means that the contraceptive pill has a HUGE impact on your body and reproductive system. Not to mention that it has now been proven that it’s highly toxic!
After being on the contraceptive pill, it might take a while for your body to re-adjust and find hormonal balance again. This can be translated by a lack of periods (amenorrhea) or an irregular cycle (to short or too long cycle). This is due to the fact that your hormonal system doesn’t mature while on the pill. So if you started the contraceptive pill at 15 yo, for example, you’re body will get back exactly where it was when you were 15 the day you decide to stop the pill, even if you’re 32 by that time.
Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about this unless the “wait and see approach”.
Lara Briden, Naturopathic Doctor blogging about Hormones and Health, recommends waiting about 6 months before starting any natural treatment. She also wrote a great article about How To Come Off Hormonal Birth Control.
During that time, one thing you can do though is to make sure that none of the issues mentioned below is a problem for you.
By the way, it took my body 2 full years to get a natural period after getting off the contraceptive pill. But I still managed to get a super healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Probably because I was patient enough to wait for my body to get back into balance naturally.
When you are under stress for a certain period of time, your body goes in survival mode. That means that it switches as many functions as it can OFF, so it can focus mainly on its survival.
Stress (as well as illnesses, inflammation, and infections) can actually stop your menstrual cycle altogether for a certain time, or delay ovulation.
It actually happened to me just about a year ago. At the end of 2014, I was under a lot of stress and got a kidney infection. My periods stopped for about 2-3 months in response to that.
That makes sense when you think about it. It would be too dangerous, even impossible to have a baby in such conditions. So your body’s natural response is just to stop or delay ovulating.
The same results can be created by emotional stress. It might be less obvious to pinpoint but if you’ve lost someone, had an accident, recently moved, changed job, etc… you might be in a state of stress that makes it impossible to get pregnant. It also happened to me more recently, in May 2019. We had to travel last minute from Belgium to Australia for work. It was an intense 10-day trip with lots of important meetings. When I got back home, my period came with a 2-week delay!
Dealing with an eating disorder naturally creates a lot of stress. It’s a totally natural and healthy response for your body to stop or delay ovulating. So try to relax and take it easy, sista!
Read more about the impact of stress here.
3. Being underweight
Let’s be clear: being underweight is a risk for your survival – at least this is how your internal system sees it. This is why women who are underweight often have a hard time getting pregnant.
There is no miracle about this one: you have to put on weight!
But be careful, you’ll have much better results by putting on weight the right way! Putting on weight the right way means increasing your weight AND your muscle mass (not putting on weight by eating a bunch of crap and getting plain fat).
So yes, you’ll have to increase your food intake properly (complex carbs, good fats, and proteins altogether) but you’ll also have to train and build muscle mass. 1 or 2 hours of strength training per week can do it perfectly. Just make sure you eat enough protein to make sure you’re not destroying your muscle mass but building it.
This will not only help you get to a healthy weight and a healthy body but this will also increase your insulin sensitivity (see next point), which is key in order to get pregnant.
4. Insulin resistance
Insulin resistance is a major cause of fertility issues in our societies. In fact, the first time I went to my gynae and told her that my periods were irregular and that we were thinking about having a baby, she automatically prescribed me Metformin, a drug to lower insulin resistance.
Obviously, she didn’t explain to me what it was and the potential side effects. I did my researches before choosing to take the drug or not. It didn’t take me long to throw the prescription away.
Because the side effects of this drug were too important for me to take the drug without knowing if it was the right thing for me and if it would solve my issues.
I also knew that insulin resistance – even though it’s huge in our societies – was probably not the cause of my irregular periods. At that time, I’d been working on my sugar addiction for a while (and thus insulin resistance). I’d been doing strength training for some time, I’d put on some lean muscle weight, I was fasting intermittently about once or twice per week (which decreases insulin resistance), I’d stopped eating sugar for a while and my sugar addiction was definitely part of the past.
I also did a free random ‘glucose intolerance test’ when seeing a campaign for diabetes prevention in the street and my results were pretty good. All those things could already tell me that, even though I was not ovulating regularly, insulin resistance could be crossed off the list.
Of course, I am not saying that you shouldn’t take the drugs your doctor has prescribed to you. In my case, I felt informed enough to make this decision and I also didn’t want to use a drug for an issue I didn’t have or if I could sustainably fix it naturally by myself.
What I do recommend on the opposite is that you get informed enough to make your own decisions smartly. Your doctor is here to help but you are the one in charge of your health at the end of the day.
If you think insulin resistance is something that’s messing with your hormones, I highly recommend reading this blog post by Lara Briden: Reverse Insulin Resistance In 4 Easy Steps. You’ll get all your answers regarding this topic.
Inflammation is a big thing and, personally, was probably the first main issue preventing me to have normal cycles (read 28 to 35 days cycles) and thus ovulating regularly.
First of all, I knew I was allergic to wheat and intolerant to gluten. So cutting that out of my diet was a game-changer.
But that’s not all! You have to repair the damages.
That means you first have to heal the inflammation that has been created in your body over the years. You can do so by taking aloe vera or omega-3 supplements.
Then you have to repair the gut tissues and give your body what it needs (with a L-Glutamin, Zinc and a good quality multi-vitamin supplement). I recommend the Bio-Life brand, which you can get 10% off if you order through me.
L-Glutamin combined with zinc (or a multi-vitamin containing zinc) is a miracle!
It will help you in many different ways including repairing gut tissues, improving absorption, and much more.
Now, it might be something else creating inflammation for you. Most of the time gluten is a big one but it might also be dairy, soy, eggs, corn, nuts, yeast, etc… The best way to find out is to order an intolerance test.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people coming to me – in the willingness to fix their health – with a huge inflammation issue and giving up straight away because they didn’t want to stop eating pasta! Please, I beg you, don’t be one of them!
6. Hormonal imbalance and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
Of course, you can have a cocktail of different issues blocking you from ovulating regularly and have a normal cycle.
For my part it was a mix of point 1 – the birth control pill (I’ve written about that here), point 2 – stress, point 4 – insulin resistance (which was already fixed by the time we were trying for a baby), and point 5 – inflammation.
Yes, it did take time to heal the whole thing (I’d say about a year) but I am really happy I did it by myself by allowing my body to take the time it needed.
I also deeply believe that, because I managed to get my body back into balance naturally, I was able to have a super healthy pregnancy, with no issue whatsoever. I am lucky enough not to have had gestational diabetes, early labor signs, or any other issues that I actually commonly see around me.
My deepest hope is that that article could help you do the same.
Now I’d love to hear from you! Are you trying to get pregnant or to address one of these issues?
Feel free to share that with all of us in the comments below, and get some tips and support from the community!
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