My Post Birth Control Journey
This post is about to get JUICY. I typically prefer to keep private matters like this personal, but I feel a strong desire to open up communication to support and uplift other women that may be going through this and let them know that they aren't alone. Over the past few years, I've realized how powerful food and lifestyle choices are to naturally healing my body + mind + spirit, and as a result, no longer felt that putting hormonal birth control into my body aligned with my goals. About nine months ago, I decided it was time to ditch HBC.
Over the past nine months since I've quit the pill, I have noticed a sense of lightness, less mood swings, and I've also shed a few pounds without any extra effort. Despite these few positive effects from getting off the pill, although I may "appear" to look healthy on the outside, I’m working to regulate my hormones and get a healthy period back - ammenorhea.
I never used to think of my period as an indicator of my overall health - though I did notice in the past that when I was SUPER stressed out, my period would be almost non-existent - something that happened a few months before I decided to leave my job. In my 20's when it came to my period, I saw it as more of a hassle, interrupting my life - vacations, big events, etc., even though my period was always pretty light (I can't even remember the last time I bought/used tampons), and I rarely experienced severe cramping or PMS. I even remember asking my doctor if this was 'normal' and them saying that I was 'lucky' that my periods were so light.
Though I know it has only been 9 months, which breaks down to a mere 9 cycles, I've had very mixed emotions about my post-birth control experience and dealing with amenorrhea. I've experienced feelings of frustration and anger, for the fact that my obgyn never talked about the potential long term risks of birth control (all that I can recall is maybe "you'll gain a few pounds" but never any mention of my body taking time to re-regulate my hormones) and have not yet disclosed this to them. I've felt ashamed with the fact that my body isn't so called functioning 'normally.' I have feelings of fear that my lady parts are 'broken' and that if I did want kids, it would be a challenge. I feel annoyed when people (even though they aren't making suggestions with bad intentions and are doing it out of good) suggest that I stop running - while I do agree that excessive exercising, undernourishement and stress can contribute to hormones, it is not the only cause.
I feel even more frustrated and upset when I get asked "when/are you planning on having kids," even though I know people are asking out of curiosity, not with bad intentions. Though I've never felt a strong desire to have children, the thought or fear that right now naturally in my body's current state, I can't get pregnant even if I tried, is difficult to swallow. Moreover, over the past few years, I've learned how sensitive of a topic this can be for women trying to get pregnant and for those who have experienced complications while pregnant. I've learned that despite the curated posts you see on social media that make it seem like 'everyone' is getting married or in this case, having babies, rarely do people talk about their challenges that arise.
So far, on my healing journey I started seeing a naturopath about 4 months ago, and am lucky to have found someone that makes me feel heard, understands my goals, and has given me hope. I've had testing done to measure my hormone and stress levels to identify where the imbalances are. As recommended, I've been taking a woman's daily multivitamin, Chasteberry and licorice supplements. I've also been paying even MORE attention to nourishing my body by continuing to exercise but honor when my body needs rest, eat healthy, manage stress, and add more self-care. *Latest update is that I got a little birthday surprise which lasted 1 day - a sign of relief.*
Each day, I remind myself that just because my hormone levels are irregular in this moment, does not mean that I am 'broken' or that something is 'wrong' with me. I was on the pill, putting synthetic hormones and chemicals into my body for over ten years, which means that it could take time for my body to re-adjust. Above all, I've learned that this is just another obstacle in my wellness journey that has taught me how important it is to focus on the positive and be grateful for all of the things I DO have.
What my hopes are for sharing this personal subject is to open up communication about some of the struggles that women go through and to also open up conversation about birth control and the fact that what we put into our bodies can have a huge impact on our health.