My Post-Birth Control Journey; Part 2

Hopefully you're all caught up from my previous post, and this is where the journey takes some twists and turns. I was pretty okay all those years - my period came a few times a year when I decided to give my body a break, and I was happy, could exercise a ton, stayed thin, and was doing well with my career progression. All the things one could hope for -- so I never thought twice about it!

As I got older, I became much more aware and in tune with all the various ways we impact our health and really started cleaning up my act even more than it already was. Swapping tampons for organic cotton or discs, organic non-toxic cleaning products, glass containers, no straws ... you name it! But I guess I sort of purposefully overlooked the birth control pills because they served a purpose and I was afraid to go back to the period I knew I had.

I came off the pill in June, 2018. I spotted for three months – and what that really looked like was a pretty consistent flow from June until the end of August. I began to experience bloating, constipation, and intolerances to foods such as gluten, nightshades, legumes, eggs, and dairy which had already been on my list to avoid. Then it got worse and I couldn’t even pin what bothered my stomach but no matter what I was bloated and felt sick. I also started to put on weight rapidly, ballooning out to the point of feeling like I was squeezing into my clothing, and going from that too thin 99lbs for my 5’4” frame to 121lbs, which is more than I should be to feel comfortable.

Over the summer, I sought help from a naturopath who discovered through a saliva test and blood work that my Cortisol levels were very low and my DHEA-S, extremely high. That could mean PCOS, but no tests were ever done with it to confirm/deny at that point. I started taking some supplements to support my adrenals and began to see an acupuncturist, who, I still see and adore to this day.

By the time September came around, I felt like my spotting was beginning to taper so my acupuncturist encouraged me to stop using tampons to see what would happen and to my surprise and excitement my spotting had finally stopped. Knowing that Ethan & I were planning to conceive, we worked together to try to regulate my systems, my cycle, my hormones. Part of that meant that I needed to exercise less intensely, and focus on warm foods and a balanced diet. That seemed easy enough but considering the fact that I had gained so much weight and felt so uncomfortable for my height and bone structure, I wasn't all too thrilled about the exercise less piece. I probably gave that the most resistance. The eating part was gravy!

The ABSOLUTE WORST part was that twice I actually thought I was pregnant, and since I had no period, amenhorrea, I couldn't know otherwise without waiting and taking a test. In October my boobs even swelled up almost double the size they had been for years, and I started to feel a full, nauseous feeling every day again with intense bloating. I was sure I was pregnant, something Ethan & I truly welcomed, but to my dismay a blood test proved I was not. I just felt worse than I had, and was starting to feel gloomy about what the future held.

By November, I was trying to be patient but was feeling sort of hopeless. I knew it could take up to a year to regulate my cycle, but I was encroaching on six months and felt like things were getting worse. I think if I had seen progress, I would have been so much more motivated. But I also knew that my mood would play into my gut health and I tried hard to regulate that, to find ways to destress, to go to yoga and walk outside in nature. I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was to cover up and hide from everyone else, but it helped as well to not show it because it forced me to act the way I should be feeling and I knew that would benefit me.

NOW I realize how important it is to share what we're going through and to lean on the support and love of others as a source of strength. I also realize that had I not been thinking about nutrition and movement throughout this whole time, my experience may have been even worse and I remind myself that there are others whose journey is even more frustrating then my own. And in that way, I can practice gratitude. So many wonderful things came out of being to share and that's why I feel compelled to tell more of the story. Maybe some of you are nodding along, having gone through or are going through the very same. You're not alone in this. And together we can not only heal ourselves, but prevent others from having to go through this very same thing! I learned so much about how to use food to support my system and get everything in sync, effectively humming again. My next few posts will be more focused on that, plus telling you more of the story because, we're already in May! So I have a few months to catch you all up on... ;-)