Gang, we’re so proud to introduce you to Jennie Nystedt, Hormona’s first Brand Ambassador! We’ll be working closely with the Stockholm-based star to kickstart the conversation about hormone health, natch. But Jennie has a more specific mission in mind. And that’s to raise awareness about an issue she’s all too familiar with — Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, or HA, a condition that affects millions of women worldwide.
What is Hypothalamic Amenorrhea?
If you’ve never heard of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, or HA you’re not alone. Despite the fact that over 17 million women around the world live it, few are actually aware of it. Essentially, your Hypothalamus, the Commander-in-Chief of your Endocrine system is responsible for starting your menstrual cycle each month. And it does that by reacting to the levels of hormones in your body around the start of your period and telling your Pituitary gland to start producing Follicle-Stimulating Hormone.
That kickstarts your entire cycle. Growing eggs, producing Estrogen, Luteinizing Hormone, Ovulation, and Progesterone production, and back to your period again if conception doesn’t occur. It all depends on your Hypothalamus. But in HA, your Hypothalamus stops telling your reproductive cycle to get going.
And that results in an absence of periods, also known as Amenorrhea, defined as no periods for three months or more. In the case of HA, it seems that the body shuts down your reproductive system, instead using its energy to focus on the systems it considers essential. That can be down to a number of factors, including stress, extreme exercise, genetics, or dietary restrictions.
Brand Ambassador duties start now!
So, we hear you ask, what exactly is a Brand Ambassador where Hormona is concerned? Well, the program is all about bringing together inspiring women, who have a personal connection to, and are passionate about, hormone health. And we’re doing that to empower women everywhere to learn about and live in balance with their hormones every day of their lives. So when it came time to launch our Global Ambassador program, we knew exactly who we wanted the very first Hormona Ambassador to be.
We’re so excited to be partnering with Jennie that we immediately demanded an interview. Covering everything under the sun, we talked hormones, HA, and… Hula-hooping. We can’t wait to do it again!
Welcome aboard, Jennie! Tell us about your hormone health journey.
“It actually started with me quitting birth control pills when I was 21, having taken them for around five or six years. I wanted to see how my body would react and who I would become without the hormones. At that time, I noticed that I didn’t get my period, which I had heard was common… So I didn’t think much of it, but when two years passed before it arrived, I started searching around for what could be causing that delay.
In the past, some doctors told me to take birth control pills to start my period, which shocked me. Birth control pills do not induce ovulation or menstruation, the bleeding is caused by withdrawal from hormones. I went to different doctors and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, HA, was mentioned. But since I was not underweight, although very close, it was ruled out and other tests were done instead.
Since then, my period has come and gone every few years. The last time it disappeared was in the summer of 2019. In the spring of 2021, I felt that I wanted to get to the bottom of everything. I felt that my body was loaded with a lot of emotions and stress.
I also started thinking more about the future than I had before. If I wanted to have children, then maybe it wouldn’t be possible because I simply do not ovulate… So I wanted to first and foremost get everything going, and get to know my cycle. In July 2021, I decided to solve this on my own because I realized that I most likely had HA. It depends on a lot many different factors, not just weight, although it certainly plays a significant role. And it made sense.”
What did you do after that realization?
“I read a lot, made a plan, and decided to trust it and follow it. Of course, my emotions fluctuated during this process, because I had to give up many things that I liked, but I still felt that this was the right path to take to restart my ovulation.
Five months later, I was not only much wiser about the female body, but I also got my period. On 11/26, at a housewarming party! It was a tearful celebration! I was so happy! Since HA is about the body shutting down ovulation because it’s not safe enough and simply not prioritized, it means that several hormones are not present to the same extent as when menstruating. And getting my period meant those hormones were back!
What are some of the challenges you faced when dealing with HA, and how did you overcome them?
I love running, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing, all of which are endurance sports. For me, it was necessary to completely pause all of these activities while trying to get my ovulation going. It wasn’t very fun, but every time I thought, “Oh, maybe I can just run a little bit,” I stopped myself and said, “No, that won’t get you to your goal, it’s the wrong direction, turn around.
Another thing that maybe isn’t obvious is that I love cold food and drinks, but I had to try to turn that around and drink warm beverages, avoid cold salads, and even wear warm socks indoors. Which doesn’t sound too difficult, but I always want to be barefoot. But every time that happened I reminded myself, “I’m going all-in, and my health comes first.”
How did you support your body while dealing with HA?
What I mainly focused on was creating a sense of safety for my body by:
- Reducing cardio training
- Reducing workload — I had a lot of work at that time
- Reducing overall exercise
- Increasing the amount of food and healthy fats in my diet
- Increasing recovery including sleep, listening to audiobooks, turning off notifications, only doing things that are not related to performance
- Increasing warmth, dressing warmly, never letting my feet get cold, eating warm stews, drinking warm beverages and never cold ones, using a wheat pillow on my stomach, over my ovaries
- Being kind to myself That’s really important
What motivated you to become a Brand Ambassador for Hormona, and what do you hope to achieve through this partnership?
I’ve written about HA, and my story, on my social media before, and it felt like a natural step to continue doing so through Hormona. Hormona works towards the same values that I stand for, and I hope that together we can reach even more women who may be on their way to, or in the same situation I was. And, just as importantly, being a Brand Ambassador can help me inspire everyone to learn about HA and how it affects women.
What role do you think tech, like the Hormona app, can play in helping women take control of their health?
Technology of all sorts can play a huge role in helping women take control of their health. But the Hormona app provides a bank of tools in all categories related to health, information based on research, and, of course, answers to specific questions about the menstrual cycle. By being able to track your cycle in the app, everything is collected in one place! The app also provides a forum for talking with other Hormonas and asking questions, knowing you’ll get honest answers from women going through similar things.
What advice would you give to women who are struggling with HA-related issues or other health concerns?
I understand, and can relate to, the idea that possibly needing to gain some weight, taking a break from your favorite sports, or maybe reducing your energy expenditure and instead focusing on calming your body, is not at all appealing! However, having a period is a sign of good health. If you don’t have your period, it means that something is not right! Think about your body and your health, what is really more important? Just because you take a break from running for six months doesn’t mean you can never run again. Everything has its time!
If you’re struggling to cope, get help. Talk to a doctor and use Hormona!
Also remember, you are never alone. Even though it may sometimes feel that way.
How can women support each other on their health journeys?
Talking to each other often reveals that something that one person may have thought they were alone in is actually shared by several others; it’s just that everyone is quiet about it.
What do you hope to see in the future of women’s health?
I would like to see more food establishments that serve food based on the menstrual cycle, fitness centers that offer classes based on the menstrual cycle, and trips and events for women where we talk and share information about the body and women’s health!
I hope that in schools, there will be more basic education on women’s health, beyond just saying, “You can get pregnant if you have sex.” And I also wish that schools and youth clinics would explain what actually happens when you take birth control pills! How it works in the body, and that it’s not a period you get, but withdrawal bleeding.
We’re so proud that Jennie chose to become Hormona’s first-ever Brand Ambassador to help spread the word about HA. We can’t wait to get started! And if you’re interested in joining our Global Brand Ambassador program alongside Jennie, let us know!