How Long Does HA Recovery Really Take?
Whether you’re just embarking on your recovery journey from hypothalamic amenorrhea, or you’ve been at it a while and desperately want to know how much longer you’ve got ahead, we’re spilling the tea on how long you can expect your recovery to really take.
The short answer: it depends… It depends on how long it takes you to go “all in”, or fully commit to recovery and all it entails. On how willing you are to move past quasi recovery, conquer your fears, and overcome your discomfort to achieve lasting behavioural and lifestyle change. This is the determining factor.
Interestingly, studies have found that it’s not how long you’ve had an absent period for, or how long you’ve been in a state of low energy availability which largely determines the length of time it will take for you to recover.
Instead, it’s the point at which you start to increase energy intake and restore your body and weight which decides how long it will take for you to recover your period. On average, one study found a median time to recovery of six months, regardless of whether the women had been missing their periods for less than three months, or more than 10 years.
However, there are reasons your recovery might be taking longer than you’d hoped or expected.
What’s delaying your recovery?
1. You’re stuck in quasi recovery.
Quasi recovery is a state in which you tell yourself you’re “fully recovered”, but your thoughts and behaviours suggest otherwise. Essentially, you’ve tricked yourself into believing you’ve done the work and you’re recovered, so you stop making progress towards true freedom. Your body may have recovered, but your mind hasn’t – and you continue to be plagued by the nagging voice in your head telling you to avoid or fear foods, or insisting you’re only worthy if you look and act in a certain way.
Warning signs you’re stuck in quasi recovery include avoiding particular foods or food groups, body checking or avoidance, spending copious amounts of time thinking about food and exercise, or strong anxiety and stress around eating behaviours and food.
Many, many people experience quasi recovery at some stage in their journey, so don’t feel like you’ve failed or you’re alone. The main thing is you’re being honest with yourself, holding yourself accountable, and committing to doing the internal work and creating lasting behavioural change, so your body and your mind can finally move towards true and full recovery.
2. You’re unwilling to gain the weight you need to restore your period.
While you may think you’ve gone “all in” on your recovery journey, ask yourself this confronting question: have you accepted that you’ll likely need to restore your bodyweight in order to regain your period and recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea?
If the answer is no, there’s a good chance this is making your recovery journey take far longer. For most people, recovery involves some weight gain or body changes, as without this your body is often unable to support your reproductive hormones, or a regular menstrual cycle. Put simply, your body just does not have the energy or body fat it needs to be able to support these essential body functions.
Until you recognise that weight restoration is, most likely, a critical part of recovery, chances are you’ll not be able to regain your period, or achieve true recovery and freedom.
It’s so important to do the work and recognise your worth is SO much more than your body and appearance. You’re inherently worthy and deserving of love and acceptance. The sooner you can truly internalise and accept this, the sooner you’ll be able to move towards full recovery.
3. You’re denying you have a problem or need support.
Still telling yourself you’re “not that sick”, or you “don’t deserve help”, or even that “other, sicker people need the help more”? This could be delaying your recovery.
The truth is, everyone deserves help and support to recover. Whether you’re well on your way to recovery, or you’re in the depths of an eating disorder, YOU deserve and need help and support. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for it.
Getting support from the right people and health professionals is so important in recovering from HA, as it provides the motivation, strategies and tools you need to achieve true, lasting change. This means you won’t slip up and fall back into old patterns, or get to a point of quasi recovery and tell yourself that’s “good enough”. It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable, and truly do the work so you can recover as fast as possible.
4. You’re addressing one pillar of concern, but neglecting other key factors in recovery.
There are so many potential underlying causes of HA: low energy availability, not eating enough, overexercising, stress… So if you’re only addressing one or some of these factors, and continuing your unhealthy patterns in other areas, you could be delaying your recovery from HA.
For example, if you do the work to increase your energy intake and refuel your body with the nourishment it needs and craves, yet you’re still punishing your body with excessive, long exercise sessions, chances are you won’t recover your period. You’re still putting your body under severe stress, and not allowing it the rest it really needs and deserves in order to heal.
Your recovery journey needs to address all the pillars of health, so you can nourish and nurture your body as best as you can, and finally achieve full recovery.
Remember, recovery involves a lot of trust, in yourself, your body, and your support team. Give yourself the best chance of recovery, as quickly as possible, by truly going all-in and committing to the process, and doing the work in every aspect of your life with the help of a qualified support team.
Need some help on your journey to full recovery? Join us in our next intake of Healing HA – you’ll receive all the tools, strategies and support you need from a team of experts to help you recover your period once and for all, and restore your relationship with your body and food. We’re here for you, every step of the way. Spots are very limited, so claim yours now!
Ready To Improve Your Relationship with Food and Get Your Period Back?
Sarah King is an Exercise Physiologist and Health Coach specialising in helping women recover from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, disordered eating and eating disorders, and body image concerns.
Her signature 8-week program Healing Hypothalamic Amenorrhea is the go-to course for women wanting to recover their period for good, rediscover food freedom, find balance with fitness and feel more body confident.
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Hi future friends, I’m Sarah King, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and health coach.
Science, not trends is the foundation of my approach. By nourishing the body and mind with scientific facts we can build foundations for a life of realness, not just wellness.