Having a menstrual cycle in this world is not easy, and if like me you grew up in an age where life is about convenience (as in NOW) then having your period shows up in life as one BIG inconvenience. So, like most things in life that are inconvenient but unavoidable we throw quick fix solutions at them. In terms of having your period this means things like, hormonal contraception, tampons, painkillers and in some cases anti depressants. ‘Old Kate’ LOVED that these options were available. I thought about how amazing hormonal contraception was and how lucky we are to have it available to us.
10 years later and my views have changed considerably (like a complete 180) Why you might ask? Well, because of life experience and then a considerable increase in knowledge due to said life experience. What’s great is that I know I am not alone in all of this and there have been many women that helped me on my journey to see the benefits of menstruation and how our current paradigm is robbing girls and women of a connection that is deeply rooted to our physical and mental wellbeing.
How it all started…
So let me start by telling you a bit about how I got to this point. 14 year old me goes to the doctor presenting with extremely irregular periods (after starting at the very young age of 10) and often extremely painful cramping. As a young girl this didn’t really register as anything to be too concerned about, and honestly the doctor clearly wasn’t worried either as there wasn’t any investigation that I remember and the only solution was to take the contraceptive pill. This suited me just fine, not only did I ‘fix’ the painful cramps I could also have sex with my boyfriend without worries. I didn’t have any particular side effects taking the pill not even the ‘good ones’ like bigger boobs. All in all for me the pill was ‘working’ plus no babies so all good right? Well no…
Fast forward 12 years and 2 different types of contraception later, the pill was still ‘working’ no babies, no side effects, no period, AMAZING! Or so I thought. Life was taking me on a journey of self realisation through my yoga practice and I was becoming ever more conscious of what was going on inside my body. It started with food and cosmetics and then of course it came around to my contraception. I started to question the hormones that I was putting in my body every day, and my ever reluctant self really didn’t want to give it up. I started to research side effects of taking the pill and that’s when things got scary!
Researching long term effects of birth control…
Women and girls who had taken the pill for varying amounts of time were experiencing: hair loss, painful sex, loss of period, gut problems, urinary and yeast infections, loss of sex drive, and these are the least problematic but most common side effects. Symptoms your doctor probably warned you about, but are less common are: blood clots, stroke, heart attack, hypertension and benign and cancerous tumors of the liver. Quite concerning to say the least!
After stopping the pill the scary list of symptoms continue and for some people, myself included, they actually get worse! I spent 9 months without getting my period, which in truth were the easiest months as everything seemed normal. Only when my period returned did I start to notice that something wasn’t right. It started with digestion problems, then dry flaky red skin, then severe pain and PMS as my cycle became more ‘regular’
Dealing with post pill induced symptoms…
After more than a year of stopping the pill I finally got diagnosed with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) to which I was told my only solution was to go back on the pill (to preserve my eggs!) OR take an anti depressant half way through my cycle to manage my PMS. Well obviously neither of those were an option for me. I realised that I would have to take responsibility for my health and my hormones if I wanted any relief from my symptoms.
This sent me even deeper into my journey of self realisation, as I became at times painfully aware of the ways in which I was not supporting my body’s needs through my actions and how long held beliefs were sabotaging my own path to wellness. This was a deep dive into the relation between my subconscious and my physical health, and it took me at times to despair and hopelessness as I went through a total transformation.
I have likened that moment to going through puberty again, or in my case for the first time. I had to learn to navigate the fluctuation of my hormones and emotions at nearly 30 years old, having never truly experienced it before. It was overwhelming and at times frightening to experience such intense emotions and anxiety, but I realised that I FELT more than I had done in years. Each new cycle that I experienced came with it tough lessons and gifts, pain with creativity, personal insights with long drawn out cycles. Each moment I was learning more and more about my body’s needs and my subconscious beliefs.
Revelations and insights…
It became clear that through each and every cycle that this fluctuation of hormone’s that I was experiencing was much more than just a biological occurrence, it was actually my own super tool to know myself, it was my personal barometer that provides answers, wisdom and knowledge.
While I was ecstatic for my discovery I also felt a deep sadness for the years that I had missed this connection with myself. I felt betrayed by doctor’s and nurses who had encouraged me to be fearful of my own body and it’s natural rhythms, who instead of empowering me to know myself better, instilled doubt and mistrust. I felt angry that women all over the world were viewing their periods as inconvenient, that hormones were just nothing more than a nuisance and if you weren’t getting pregnant hormones and menstruation were redundant. This was the opposite of everything I had discovered.
Meanwhile more women every year are experiencing menstrual disorders and infertility and to this day you are likely to get prescribed the contraceptive pill as a one shot solution to everything from acne to irregular periods. Could it be that the contraceptive pill is actually EXASPERATING these issues, instead of helping? Could it be that our love of CONVENIENCE has lead us to throw quick fix solutions at something that is so complex and intertwined with general wellbeing that we have done ourselves a HUGE disservice by minimising it’s importance?
What have been your experiences with birth control? Do you love it? Do you feel you NEED to take it? Is the thought of coming off and dealing with your symptoms scary? Are you scared of getting pregnant?
Tell me where you are AT the more we share the more we learn 🙂