I struggled with heavy, painful periods when I started menstruation at aged 13. They disturbed my sleep, impacted my ability to exercise and the unbearable cramps resulted in me taking time off school. One of the things I used to hate most was the duration, they always lasted between 5-7 days!
As a young girl I sought advice from my GP. Their solution? To take the oral contraceptive pill, take up to 3 packets back to back so you only have to have your ‘period’ every 9 weeks. They reassured me it would also be lighter and less painful. And this is exactly what I did for 8 years 😱
The GP was correct, the ‘period’ I was experiencing over those 8 years was lighter and less painful and it was convenient not having periods for months at a time. But the bleeding I was experiencing was in fact not a real period at all, it was withdrawal bleeding.
When you take the pill you don’t ovulate, you don’t have natural fluctuations in hormone levels and you don’t menstruate. The female body has been designed to have a monthly cycle so it is not surprising that there are long term effects from use of the pill. It has been linked to increased blood pressure, blood clots and breast and endometrial cancer.
It dawned on me that I was so conscious of being kind to my body, giving it nutritious food, drinking plenty of water, getting loads of sleep and exercising regularly. Yet, I was prepared to stress my body daily by taking a drug and throw my natural hormone cycle out of whack.
As I started to learn more about women’s health, I decided that taking a pharmaceutical, an extrogenous hormone replacement everyday for the majority of my life, went against everything I stood for. I stopped taking the pill 3 years ago and I don’t regret it for a minute.
I now feel much more connected to my body – I can again feel the natural ebbs and flows in energy levels and mood that women have evolved to experience. Beforehand, whilst taking the pill, I had been masking and blocking any signals from my reproductive system. My period now lasts 3 days and I do get cramps but I have learnt natural, effective ways of managing these, something I can discuss in another post. I feel like I’m now working with my body rather than overpowering it or fighting against it.
The major kick back I get when I tell people that I do not use a hormonal contraceptive is regarding an unexpected pregnancy. An unexpected pregnancy, for me, wouldn’t be the end of the world. Whilst I’d much rather it be on my terms, I am in a committed, stable relationship. Plus, the pill’s effectiveness is not 100% and we do take precautions and use other forms of contraception that don’t involve me manipulating my hormones.
I understand that this decision is not for everyone but I honestly believe that our bodies know best and I’ve decided to trust mine.