Menstrual Cycle Restoration: Case Study + Recommendations
By Dan Garner
Attached is a case study from the scientific literature following a figure competitor who apparently had a terrible coach.
Here's what you need to know:
1. The researchers followed her for her full contest prep and recovery post-contest.
2. She started dieting too early for how lean she was and ended up losing her menstrual cycle in the first month of her contest prep.
3. She made it to the show. Lean, but I wouldn't say healthy.
4. After the show, she didn't want to put on body fat, so she reverse-dieted for 20 weeks, sustaining a low energy availability for far too long a period of time.
5. It took her 18 months to get her menstrual cycle back after the show, which doesn't include the 4 months she didn't have it during her prep. That's 22 months without any cycle at all.
6. 22 months is certainly a long enough time to impact bone mineral density, fertility, risk of fractures, osteoporosis, and overall hormone regulation on many levels.
...stuff like this is totally unacceptable, yet uninformed contest prep coaches damage people's health every year. You don't have to look hard to find it.
Although the restoration of your menstrual cycle can be complex and nuanced, the undeniable first place to start is with your total caloric intake.
Those who consume less than 30 calories per kilogram of lean mass are at the highest risk of losing their menstrual cycle, and those who consume 45 calories per kilogram of lean mass are in the best position to regain it at the fastest possible rate. A DEXA scan will give you your lean mass measurement in an accurate way, and from there, the caloric equations are straightforward.
Knowledge is power. When it comes to your health, especially during something as intense as a show, make sure you're in good hands.
Your future self will thank you.