This is a current hot topic for me because I recently went through a year of hell with birth control. Yep, hell. This is no exaggeration.
So instead of keeping silent like a good girl, I’ve decided to publicly talk about my experience so others don’t have to trial and error in the dark like I did. It should be a conversation we have more often with people other than our doctors, because while things are medically recommended, I had little personal support around the subject. Friends, don’t take offence to this, it had nothing to do with your ability to support me, it actually was entirely my fault. I didn’t reach out to friends for advice like I should have because the subject of fertility, birth control and alternative options are often a taboo subject. I hope this post helps encourage the conversation.
Basically it all started two years ago. I decided to take a year off of my birth control pill (Tri-Cyclen Lo) because I had been on it for so long I was worried my body was goingto forget how to produce its own hormones and regulate my cycle. Fortunately everything went well, I had a regular cycle and felt great. A year later I went back on Tri-Cyclen Lo and guess what? My body rejected it. It was a big f**k you to my system to be back on birth control because suddenly I was having my period every 10-14 days. It’s bad enough to have it once a month!!! So with the suggestion of my doctor I switched to a higher dosage of Try-Cyclen, which still did not work. Then a couple months later I switched to another high dosage with Alesse pills, and again my body issued a big f**k you not only increasing the frequency of my periods but also the pain and length of it. I was miserable, tired, angry, frustrated and in so much pain. After 6 months of this crazy rejection I stopped pills again and considered other options. My doctor suggested an IUD. I did some research and thought this could be a great idea. It has the least amount of hormones and I wouldn’t have to remember to take a daily pill. It would last in my body for up to 5 years and had the best chances of preventing pregnancy. I agreed to get the IUD 4 months after stopping the pills and was looking forward to everything being solved.
Wow was I wrong.
My IUD right away felt a little uncomfortable the week following the insertion, but that was completely expected. You’re supposed to havemild cramps for the first while, which I did (and they’re weird by the way, deep new cramps you’ve never experienced before. At least for me). Then over the next two months I got my period on schedule but with so much menstrual pain. On the third month, I got my period and suddenly there was a new pain I had never felt before. It was so severe it had me sobbing out of control, unable to think and function. My then fiance (now husband!) was worried about me because he had never seen me like this; I was literally gasping for air and rolling on the ground in pain. So I called 811 (a great Canadian service that has 24/7 nurses able to give you advise on your situation and suggest whether to go to the hospital or not to reduce unnecessary emergency visits). I didn’t want to go to the hospital for normal menstrual cramps so I just wanted to be sure. The nurse on the phone listened to my symptoms and to my surprise told me I should go to the hospital right away because my IUD could be ejecting itself, or worse it could be piercing into my uterine wall which would require surgery. At this moment I was very scared and went to the emergency room right away. I continued to have severe pain for about 4 hours and then it diminished to a more manageable pain.
Finally after many hours of waiting (it was a busy night for the hospital of course) I got to see the doctor who did a ultrasound and rightaway thought the IUD was too low. He asked if he could do a manual exam and could right away see the IUD, which you definitely shouldn’t be able to when you’re just taking a peak inside. So he told me I had ejected the IUD and pulled it out. I felt absolutely no pain, just pure relief, because apparently I had already done all the work of getting it out of my body.
After this horrific experience I took it as a loud and clear message that my body did not want hormonal birth control options invading its temple. I have not been on birth control now since January and have never felt better! I track my fertility now to know when I am most likely to get pregnant and only use this natural cycle to regulate birth control. So far so good, but fortunately I want to have kids soon and a mistake wouldn’t be the worst news. 🙂
Ultimately the most important lesson I learned from this experience is that 1) I really want to be healthy and connected with want my body needs to thrive and what hurts it. and 2) that one of the most important goals for my future is to have children and any risk to my fertility is not worth it. Birth control is an incredible choice for women to take their future into their own hands, and I relied on birth control for 9 years. But it is not for everyone and it is not the best for every body. So lets make this a normal conversation, and not just amongst women, because it is an important discussion for every relationship.