Post-anorexia problems: Lack of menstruation and hair loss

SINGAPORE - Q I suffered from anorexia for about a year and managed to come out of it about half a year ago.

When I had anorexia, I stopped having my menstruation and lost a lot of hair. Is there any way of getting my menstruation and hair back?

A It is wonderful that you have overcome your anorexia nervosa.

This eating disorder, fuelled by an obsession with losing weight, can affect the hormones responsible for normal menstrual cycles.

The menstrual cycles are likely to return within a few months of you reaching at least 90 per cent of your ideal body weight.

It takes time for the hormonal balance to be restored. With medical and nutritional support, your menstruation will return and your hair will start to grow back.

Maintain a good nutritional status and an indicator of this is weight gain. The American Dietetic Association recommends gradual weight gain, with a minimum weight gain of 0.25kg per week.

Here are some tips to help you improve your nutritional status.

Aim for small, frequent meals. Consider having healthy snacks between main meals. This increases your calorie intake and helps you to put on weight.

Have a balanced diet and have food from the four food groups listed in the Health Promotion Board's (HPB) Healthy Diet Pyramid, which are rice and alternatives, fruit, vegetables and meat.

Besides that, you also need to eat the right quantities from the four food groups, as recommended by the HPB.

We can give only general answers as it is difficult to comment in particular, without knowing your height, weight and dietary habits.

You should also consider taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement daily to meet your nutrient requirements.

Dr Shamini Nair,

Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Raffles Women's Centre at Raffles Hospital

Miss Sarah Sinaram,

Senior dietitian at Raffles Internal Medicine Centre at Raffles Hospital

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