Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why I Quit Taking the Pill

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So I wasn't totally sure I wanted to write this post, but here I go. :) I figure you guys know me and we are friends here. And friends tell each other things, so I'm here to tell it all. Well, not all but a lot.

As a rule, I've pretty much always struggled with very heavy and painful periods. It's just something that I thought was like my cross to bear. Whenever I would go for my "lady checkup," my doctor would always ask me if I wanted to try birth control to help alleviate the symptoms I was experiencing, but I would always decline the offer. It really freaked me out to think about taking a medicine that I didn't really know about or to have my hormones potentially jacked up. I always would say, "Oh, it's ok, I can manage the pain."

Enter marriage. I started taking the pill a few months before we got married because that's what everyone said you're supposed to do. I wasn't super thrilled about it, but I also knew we didn't want a honeymoon baby. So. The pill it was.

The first couple months I didn't really notice much of a difference, but as I began to take stock and think about how my periods had been before the pill, I realized that it was considerably helping my symptoms. I was pretty excited about that and glad to have some physical relief.

After we came back from our honeymoon, I felt different. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something wasn't quite right. I was very tired and moody, and I just didn't feel like myself. Then, one day it dawned on me. What had I changed about my "normal" in the last few months (other than getting married)? My birth control. I had always heard how birth control can "make you crazy" but didn't think much of it.

If you're new around here, let me catch you up-we were engaged for three months after dating for six. There wasn't a whole lot of time to process life. It was kind of survival mode for a minute. So yes, during the engagement season, my emotions were often raw, but I just chalked it up to the joys stresses of wedding planning. But after we returned from our honeymoon and began to settle into what everyday life would look like, I knew something was off.


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Friends, I was really scared at this time. It was honestly one of the hardest things I've ever been through. I felt so off and hated not being in control of my emotions. There were mornings when I didn't want to get out of bed and where I went in late to work because I couldn't stop crying. In fact, I pretty much cried all the time. Now, I'm an emotional person by nature; it doesn't take much for me to tear up. But this was something altogether different.

I called my doctor and switched my meds, and within a matter of weeks was feeling better. But in the spring, as Rory and I talked, I told him that I still felt like I wasn't quite back to myself-not yet 100%, anyways. So in May, we decided that I would quit taking birth control. I was nervous but also felt peace because I was tired of the way my hormones were being affected. There just wasn't much benefit for me.

Except there was a benefit-the lighter periods. My first period without the pill was incredibly uncomfortable and painful, and I was frankly frightened. I felt weak and was not sure what to do. What if I had made the wrong decision? Everyone takes the pill, why can't I handle it? But the Lord assured me that I needed to trust Him and that everything was going to be ok.

We had come to the conclusion that it was not worth it for me to be severely depressed just to experience physical relief a few days a month. When I have physical issues, Rory can help me by encouraging me to rest and by helping me out with things around the house. But when I'm not myself because my hormones are all of whack, it's a different story. I can't fully be me or all that God wants me to be when I feel so very out of control.

In the summer, I was still experiencing extremely heavy and painful periods, and they weren't getting any better. I told Rory that I thought it could be something serious, because it just didn't seem normal to have such a rough time each month. I called my doctor and explained my symptoms and asked that they do whatever they needed to do to get me some answers. I was tired of feeling confused and scared about the status of my health.

At my appointment at the end of June, I shared my symptoms with my nurse and was given an ultrasound and biopsy to see what exactly was going on with my gynecological health. Much to my surprise, they found uterine fibroids and a thick endometrium (lining of the uterus). I had heard of fibroids before but honestly wasn't quite sure what they were or how they could affect me. I learned that uterine fibroids are benign muscular tumors that grow within the uterus. The symptoms of uterine fibroids are:


  • Heavy bleeding (which can be heavy enough to cause anemia) or painful periods
  • Feeling of fullness in the pelvic area (lower stomach area)
  • Enlargement of the lower abdomen
  • Frequent urination
  • Lower back pain
Friends, I pretty much had all of those symptoms. It was a huge relief to know that I hadn't been making everything up in my head or just being dramatic for all these years. But I was also terrified and had a lot of questions.

How do I make the fibroids stop growing? Will I have problems having children? What if the fibroids keep growing? Why is this happening? Could I have made a different decision in the past that would have helped them to decrease in size? My head was spinning, and I got in the car to call Rory. He was so kind and patient (duh) and just said we would continue to pray and we would figure it out. 

The suggestions given to us by my health provider to help deal with the issues I was facing were as follows:

IUD
Birth control
Progesterone hormone pills
Surgery

So pretty much all not the greatest or most exciting options. We eliminated the IUD and surgery immediately, even thought it was tempting to think that a quick outpatient surgery might provide some relief. But the thing is with fibroids there is always a chance that they will come back. These dang things are really stubborn. So after praying and going back and forth and seeking counsel, we decided to go with a low-dose birth control. It was the same one I'd had in the past that made my periods better, but it was the lowest dose on the market. I literally couldn't have a lower dose. I was scared, because I knew that the full dose had made me severely depressed, but at this point I was willing to try anything that might bring even a hint of relief. 


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Well, friends, turns out I am crazy sensitive to hormones. Even the slightest hint of them. So I thought I was ok for a few days, but then I started feeling "it" again- extreme lethargy and a whole lot of sadness. Tears. Mood swings. And I just wasn't about it. At this point I was feeling pretty discouraged and didn't know how to get relief from my periods. A good friend of mine told me about a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility that is all about understanding how we were created. It definitely isn't from a Christian perspective, but as I read it, I was geeking out just a bit and completely in awe of how our Creator fashioned our bodies. He has made each one of us uniquely, but He has also placed in our bodies systems that give us signals and help us to know and understand just what is going on at every point in our cycles-if we know how to pay attention to them. These signs can help us either achieve or avoid pregnancy, all without the aid of any pharmaceuticals. I began charting my signs and paying attention to what my body was telling me in order to get a grasp on just what I was dealing with. 

At the end of August, I decided to purchase a starter kit from Young Living. I had read a lot about oils and how they were an amazing support for overall wellness. Well, friends, if you've been following along here for a while, you know that I fell in love. I was originally looking into them to help with natural solutions for everyday ailments, but I also was intrigued to see how they might help with my gynecological issues. 

I began using the oils and started to get more comfortable with them in my everyday life. I found that I was able to get some amazing sleep support with lavender, cedarwood and copaiba, and I loved the way Stress Away helped uplift my spirits. Peppermint was amazing to calm an upset tummy, and I just loved the fresh scent of lemon. 

All over the Facebook groups I was a part of, women were talking about Progessence Plus, a natural form of progesterone that was formulated to support women's health. I was intrigued, but I thought it was kind of weird, so I didn't take the plunge just yet. But I kept reading testimonials of how this oil blend had helped women who struggled with hormonal issues and wondered if it could help me. After using other oils in my everyday life for a couple months, I decided I would take a chance of P+ and added it to my monthly order of oils in October. 

To be honest, I didn't notice much of a change at first with the use of this oil. However, as I began to use it consistently over the course of a few months, I saw a difference in my PMS symptoms and also in the length of my periods. I still struggled with painful cramps, and there have been a couple days where I didn't go to work because I just couldn't bear it. But overall, I can say that the use of the oils I discovered has been a huge blessing and a positive support for my health and wellbeing. I have made a blend that I rub on my abdomen and lower back, and I try to give myself a lot of grace and long baths on those days. My cycle has definitely improved, and I am hopeful about how my hormones will continue to balance out with a good diet, the support of oils and lots of prayer

In November I went in for another check-up, and they were concerned about a fibroid that they found and hoped that it was not inside my uterus. They recommended surgery again and said that it was the only way to see the exact location of the fibroid. They also wanted to remove it and perform a D&C. Well, my friends, I had absolutely no peace about the prospect of surgery. Praise the Lord, I was able to see another doctor for a second opinion, and he said that I definitely didn't need surgery. The ultrasound tech was also able to pinpoint the exact location of the fibroid, and right now it's not in a perilous position, so we are hoping it either shrinks or stays put!

Navigating through all of this hasn't been easy. I've cried a lot, been scared, and wondered what it all means and why it's all happening. But I have been comforted in knowing that God is sovereign and that He is omniscient. I share all of this with you not to say, "look at me," but rather to say "look at God." I'm so grateful that He is my Creator and knows every part of me. None of this surprises Him and none of it is too big for Him. I'm also glad that I can rest in the truth that He is my healer and that He desires wholeness and wellness-whether it's achieved on this side of heaven or not. 

2 comments:

  1. Hi Jessica!! It's Ashley. I don't know if you remember me, but we went to Pope together, and I keep up with your wonderful writing here at your blog. I also have really heavy popping-6-8-advil-a-day periods and my mom has a history of really insane fibroids, one of which she's had to get surgery for (so I know what I could be in for). I just recently went off the pill and I was also worried about the return of the cramping. I was poking around Amazon and decided to try this supplement of Chinese herbs that I found because the acupuncturist who puts them together got great reviews on Yelp (they're in pill form though so they don't taste as nasty as the real stuff! lol). It's a bit pricey, and although I don't take it exactly as instructed (it says to take 4-8 a day three times a day through your period, which would blow through the whole bottle in one period for sure!), I take 4 pills + 2 advil once a day for the first two (and heaviest) days of my period, and it has literally made a world of difference. I don't need to take any painkillers for the rest of the day and while I still feel mild twinges of cramps here and there I'm no longer curled up in bed from the pain. I did some research and it's the dong quai (angelica sinesis) that's responsible for most of the pain relief I think (although it apparently needs to be balanced with some other herbs, so that's why I don't try to take dong quai directly). Anyways, sorry for the long ramble!! But I've been lurking here a bit benefitting off your wisdom on your walk with God, finances, and marriage and I wanted to share about these in the hopes that it might help you.

    https://www.amazon.com/Womens-Relief-Menstrual-Natural-Supplement/dp/B01C1Z6MDK/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1485368062&sr=8-1&keywords=period+relief+pills

    Regardless of whether it is able to or not, I'm praying for the situation with your fibroid and for you to be encouraged through the process still! Thanks for the blessing of your blog :)

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    Replies
    1. Ashley! Girl OF COURSE I remember you! You were (are?) an incredible violinist and super sweet and smart. Thank you so so much for stopping to take a moment and give me some insight and share with me a bit of your experience as well. I am truly grateful and thank you for your kind words. I am DEFINITELY going to add this supplement to my Amazon cart and will try it next month. Thanks again and God bless.

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