There’s a lot of focus put on the desire to become pregnant being the reason to recover from RED-S / REDs and amenorrhea. If you don’t want to have kids, you may feel – maybe you’ve even been told – that not having your period doesn’t matter.
As sport nutrition and performance expert Rebecca McConville explains, reproduction is only part of the puzzle. Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport also impacts bones, digestion, sleep… Losing your menstrual cycle is the most obvious symptom, but girls who haven’t started their period yet, post-menopausal women, and males can all have RED-S. Becca explains why adequate fueling is necessary for everyone, regardless of their reproductive status.
Read the transcript
[Tina] I don’t want kids or I’m done having kids. Do I really need to change anything? Does it matter?
[Becca] Reproduction is one of the many puzzle pieces and that is a choice or decision that is up to you. The other pieces are still critical. When we look at heart health, when we look at digestion, hormonal health, bone… I can keep going and going, but you want to connect all those puzzle pieces together and think about your holistic health and how eating enough will honor that.
And you’ll feel it, and I know for some as they’re in the middle of this journey, it doesn’t feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but as you listen to stories from others that have recovered from RED-S, they’ll tell you that someday you’re just going to be sitting there and all of a sudden you’re just going to have this feeling like, “I’m calmer; I can actually go to the bathroom regularly.” I’m always shocked how many athletes get excited about stuff like that. Or “I slept all the way through the night,” and those are things that we take for granted until they’re gone. And so like I said, if that piece of the puzzle you’re not interested in, there’s a lot of others that I bet you are.
[Tina] Would you say that there is too much focus put on kids being the only reason you need to recover from this? I’ve heard this from a lot of people in recovery, that they feel like either from medical professionals or just by society, unless they want kids like there’s no point in doing this. There’s just no focus on that.
[Becca] I do. Well, when you think about RED-S can start from, I mean, even if they haven’t had a cycle. Maybe it’s a 13-year-old female or an 11-year-old male, versus we talked about the Masters athlete. If we’re solely focusing on having children, that misses a large group that’s not going to connect with the messages that we’re talking about. The other piece is, if somebody is even wanting to have children, that’s a lot of pressure to put on them, especially when sometimes it can be a process that takes a lot longer, and we want to have other factors that make us feel like we’re moving towards a goal and put that on the back burner and take that pressure off yourself during this time.
[Tina] Would you say, what would you say, to someone who is feeling like the world has forgotten them because they don’t want kids? They are of reproductive age, but they just don’t want kids and it feels like no one cares. Any last pieces of advice you’d give to that person?
[Becca] Sure. Find somebody that’s in this for the love of the work that they do, the love of the athletes that they treat. You know, I want to see my athletes be able to do the things that they want to do until they can no longer. I want to do that for myself, so I know that there’s goals that they have, and you have to find a clinician or provider that’s going to listen to where your goals are and then align with those accordingly.
[Tina] Yeah, okay. Thank you so much.
check it out
Recovering from RED-S is hard. It’s even harder if you’re working through it alone. Even if you have professional support, they’re not available 24-7, and that can lead to going down search engine rabbit holes that have the potential to derail everything.
Our online resource, RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover, will answer all those questions swimming around in your head about recovery. It will give you the opportunity to connect with the experts you’ve come to know here, and to surround yourself with a community of others who are going through it too. THANK YOU! to Athletic Greens and Tracksmith for supporting this YouTube series and RED-S: Realize. Reflect. Recover.
Go to athleticgreens.com/reds to get five free travel packs of AG1 and a free one year’s supply of vitamin D3+K2 with your subscription!
When you go to https://tracksmith.com/tina and use the code TINA15 at checkout, you’ll get free shipping and Tracksmith will donate 5% of your order to Rising Hearts, the Indigenous-led nonprofit founded by Jordan Marie Daniels.
more about becca:
Rebecca McConville, RD, LD, CSSD, CEDS, is a sports nutrition and performance expert who helps her clients explore and strengthen their relationship with food, weight, body image and sports performance. Her book, “Finding Your Sweet Spot,” helps athletes maximize their potential while avoiding the dangers of RED-S. You can find Becca at https://beccamcconville.com.