“I wasn’t regular so my doctor put me on the contraceptive pill”
This statement was said to me recently by a work colleague. It instantly resonated with me. I had to bite my tongue. It was so similar to what I had experienced. Just a quick caveat I’m not in the position to give out medical advice but I can talk from experience.
At the age of 12 I was taken to the doctor by my mum as I was experiencing heavy and painful periods that would last up to 10 days. This had been going on for about a year – yep as with everything in life I had to be first, even my period came first! She saw a daughter who was uncomfortable and knew that wasn’t how a period was meant to be. As would any mum, she didn’t want that for me so took me to the doctors to see if anything else could be done. The solution seemed so easy – The Oral Contraceptive Pill. So at the age of 12 I was put onto the pill. In the mid-90’s there wasn’t the research around the effects of being on the oral contraceptive pill long-term.
I thought it was amazing. I became regular and the length of my cycle shortened. I was still experiencing heavy beginnings of my period but this too was also less in duration. As I got into my teens I still experienced what could only be described as excruciating period pain and always on the 4th day of my cycle. It was crazy. I would be doubled over, laying on my bed for hours just waiting for it to go away. I was prescribed strong pain killers to take. If I got these into me before the pain started I would be ok. There are two days that I still can remember quite vividly of when I didn’t take them early enough. One time the pain was so bad I took 2 of the pain killers and 2 anti-inflammatories and just slept, In honesty looking back, I’d probably knocked myself out. They weren’t over the counter pain killers, they packed some punch. I remember laying on my bed curled in a ball and the next thing it was 3 hours later and I was in the exact same position. The other memory was at a practice run through for our school awards night. It was mid practice and it hit. I had no pain killers on me. I had asked around my friends, nothing. And the office wouldn’t issue any without permission from a parent. I had to leave the the practice and sit outside. I started to sweat with the pain, doubled over on the bench, it lasted about an hour. It was just something I thought I had to endure.
I had trouble with my period on and off into my mid 20’s. I was given the contraceptive implant as it was thought if it would stop my period that would help. It worked for about 18 months. I had it replaced and the second one didn’t last much more that 6 months. In my mid 20’s I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I saw a specialist and had surgery to have it removed. Whilst this was diagnoses was happening the advice given to me was just to keep taking the active pills, skipping the sugar ones so I wouldn’t get a period. At the time I thought this was awesome – who wouldn’t – no period! After the operation I had a short period of regular pain free periods. The heavy painful ones returned. My doctor then suggested the contraception injections which gave me some relief.
Now I was in my late 20’s. The effects of using contraception, the pill, the implant, were about to rear their ugly heads.
As I headed into my early 30’s I found myself single and thought I would give myself a rest from contraception. I just started to get this feeling like it wasn’t serving my body well anymore. I had been on some form of contraception for the past 20 years. The most horrifying thing for a 30 year old female to endure happened… No period came back! Back to the doctor I went. I was told I just had to wait longer, it had been 4 months and I was told it was normal for 3-6 months. I waited another few months and went back. I was told that if I wanted regular periods again I would have to go back onto the pill…. You put your trust in people giving you advice so I took it again for a couple of cycles. Then stopped again. To me it didn’t feel logical to be back on it.
During this time I did a fair bit of research. A blog post by Steph Lowe (The Natural Nutritionist) opened my eyes – read it here. What I was experiencing wasn’t a period. For the past 20 years it wasn’t a period. It was a ‘drug-induced’ period. The ingredients in the pill mimic the hormones in your body. Even if you don’t release an egg you will still get your period, As I learnt more about this it made total sense. The contraceptive pill just covered up the problems I was having, what I needed was for someone to tell me at age 12, heavy painful periods were not normal. And to help me fix it. To know that it was hormone dysfunction and to address the causes of that.
I again waited 9 months without getting a period and went back to the doctors. I was again told just to wait. By this time I was 32 nearly 33. Even though I didn’t have a partner I knew I wanted kids some day. Not having a period was extremely worrying for me. I didn’t want to just wait, I knew something wasn’t right. No period – no ovulation – no kids. I was also experiencing weight gain, extreme tiredness, anxiety and depression, At the time I didn’t put these symptoms together, I now know that these were all signs my body was giving me to show me something was wrong.
I started to work with Steph. Since that time we have worked on a lot of different things going on with my body. We have been working together on healing me. Healing me in a very natural way. The good news is my cycle is back. It did take some time and I’m not regular yet but they are back, real cycles. Nothing bought on by synthetic hormones. They are shorter and have very little pain. I spent years on the pill, expecting a quick fix was never going to be realistic. I have no endometriosis symptoms anymore. The best feeling however is knowing that I can have a period. Those other side effects have been helped as well. My moods are even. I have endless energy and my weight it manageable again.
I want you all to trust your instincts. If you don’t feel like you are getting the right answers, explanations for what you feel is going on, please get a second or even third opinion. This doesn’t have to be related to your period, anything to do with your body. Don’t be afraid to question the status quo. I would highly suggest seeking out an alternative medicine therapist that specialises in your condition. Remember this is your life, your body, your path.
The Nourishing Way.