I started taking a hormonal birth control pill at 16 years old. My mom found out that I was sexually active and she demanded that we go to Planned Parenthood. Not knowing any better I went with it, after all mother knows best, right? I stayed on the same pill for 4 years, but with my hectic schedule in college I kept forgetting to take it, so the campus doctor suggested the Nuvaring. I started using it, but kept getting UTIs. So then I was prescribed the patch, but that kept falling off before it was supposed to and I was switched back to the pill again, this time it was Yaz. Within the first month on Yaz, I lost weight (even though I was at a healthy weight to start) and my breasts went up a cup size, which I thought was great being a single 20 year old with an athletic frame. Then the next month my hair started to fall out, and what felt like overnight my personality started to change.
I went from an overall social, happy person to riding an emotional roller coaster, I felt depressed and sometimes even manic, and the scariest part is that I started having suicidal ideations. I literally did not recognize myself and my friends and my boyfriend were really concerned too. At first I didn’t make the connection, but after a couple months of literally feeling insane, it clicked that these could all be symptoms of the pill because I wasn’t on any other medication. Thank goodness for Google! I started researching and learned that I wasn’t the only one experiencing these bizarre symptoms. I decided to stop the pill cold turkey and within a few weeks I was back to my normal self, minus a lot of my hair.
It’s been 12 years and I refuse to take the hormonal birth control pill or use an IUD. In the past couple years I studied a lot about hormone imbalances, and the more I learned the more everything began to make sense. At 30 years old, I learned that I could only get pregnant 6 days out of the month, because we only ovulate within a 24 hour period and sperm can survive up to 5 days. At 30, I learned that hormonal birth control shuts down your hormone production, and that PMS is not normal. I’m a 32 year old woman, why was this never explained to me? Why isn’t this taught to every girl in health class? Why didn’t my doctor explain this to me when I was on birth control? I was mind blown that I have been a menstruating woman for 16 years and I am just learning the facts about my cycle. Now I track my cycle to understand what phase I am in and if I am fertile or not. (New post all about this coming soon!)
I became so fascinated with women’s health, that this year I completed the Fix Your Period Apprenticeship focused completely on hormones, periods and everything about the vagina.
With that being said, ladies, you should be able to trust your doctor and understand that good healthcare is patient driven. They should work with you, if you have a doctor that just writes you a prescription for every ailment or tells you that you cannot get your IUD removed even though you asked, this is NOT good care. I encourage you to be an advocate for your health, ask questions before just saying yes to a new medication. Many women don’t think of birth control as a medication, but it is.
We are VERY intuitive beings, when we stop the noise and listen to our bodies we usually have the right answers, because no one knows your body better than you do. There are some hormone related diseases that the pill is very helpful for like endometriosis, but you have to know that this is not your only option. Being on the birth control pill for many years can decrease your fertility because you do not ovulate while on the pill, and you don’t get a real period while on the pill either, it’s called a withdraw bleed. Withdraw bleeding takes place during that last week of your birth control cycle (the placebo), not having any hormones during week 4 can cause a weakening in the uterine lining just enough to allow bleeding to follow. There are many women I have spoken to in their twenties that love Seasonal and the Depo shot because they get a period every few months or don’t get a period at all, but this is not in sync with Mother Nature. A healthy period is sign of overall health.
Periods are so crucial to overall health that they have been coined the fifth vital sign. Just like you should be observing your bowel movements every day, you can learn a lot about your health by observing your period. What does a healthy cycle look like anyway? A healthy cycle comes on average every 28 days and lasts between 3-7 days. Blood should be fire engine red and look like fresh blood not like crushed blueberries, these are clots. There should be NO PAIN, no mood swings, no cystic acne, no diarrhea, no migraines and no passing of blood clots. You should be ovulating around day 14 of your cycle, approximately 2 weeks after menstruation and that should be pain free as well. The only real way to know if you are ovulating is by tracking your temperature with a basal thermometer while observing cervical fluid and the position of your cervix. A great place to start tracking your cycle is using an app like The Period Tracker to keep track of the length of your cycle as well as your symptoms to see if it changes month to month.
If Aunt Flo’s visit is something that you dread every month, it might be time to dig deeper and find out the root cause of your symptoms. It could be your thyroid or estrogen dominance or both, it could be adrenal fatigue, or high androgens, or it could be inflammation from food sensitives like histamine. Our bodies are complex systems and if one system or organ is out of whack it can be detrimental to the whole endocrine system. The good news is that all of this can be balanced out with diet, lifestyle improvements and supplementation of the right vitamins, minerals and Chinese herbs.
I believe that no one should feel like they don’t understand their own body. If you are struggling with your hormones, you want to get off the pill or you just got off the pill and your period is nowhere in sight, I can help you. I have been there and it’s very frustrating to not get the answers you are looking for. I’m a Women’s Holistic Health Coach who helps women understand their menstrual cycles and empowers them become more in tune with their symptoms. I have helped women overcome PMS, post pill issues and balance out symptoms of PCOS. If you are struggling with any hormone related symptoms including infertility after the pill please reach out to me.