My Story on Hormonal Birth Control
When I was 15, I had really heavy periods. Without blinking my gyno prescribed the pill to “regulate” my periods.
(I now know that the pill doesn’t regulate your period. The pill bleed you have is not a period at all because the pill completely shuts down your body’s ability to ovulate and produce progesterone.)
Anyone who has been on the pill knows the hassle of getting your rx every month, trying to remember to take it the same time every day, etc. So when I was in college (2013), I started to hear about the iud. Not only did you not have to take a pill every day, it was a much lower dosage of progestin (synthetic steroid hormone, progesterone) and it was delivered locally in the uterus, not systematically through the blood stream. As long as you could get through the insertion, you’d be worry free for 5 years. I’m all about short term discomfort for long term benefit, so I said sign me up!
It’s true the insertion was pretty awful. It was kinda like a Pap smear but much more traumatic and uncomfortable. I had terrible cramps immediately and for weeks after. But I convinced myself it was worth it.
FIRST RED FLAG
Once I got past that experience, within a few months I had completely forgot about it had little to no period which was also an amazing convenience. Then “out of no where” I suddenly developed really bad cystic acne. When I was younger, I had your average, mild teenage acne, but nothing like this. The only thing I could put together was the iud. My doctor assured me this was NOT the cause that she had never heard of anything like that. I was skeptical but trusted my doctor.
I saw a dermatologist and was prescribed accutane. Which is a completely other monster in itself. But at the point where your face is covered in acne with no other treatment working, you don’t really care as long as it goes away.
(I would end up doing 2, 20 week cycles of accutane, which works wonders while you’re on it, but surprise! The acne comes back)
Once the acne cleared up, It was honestly smooth sailing. I didn’t notice any other side effects. I would advocate for my friends to get the iud because of how low maintenance it was.
This was also around the time I began CrossFit. So I couldn’t tell any effect on my performance. I was so new, I would PR every day!
As each day goes by I am striving to optimize my training, my recovery, my health to become the best possible athlete I can be. The further you go in anything, the more attention to
detail you need to take in order to keep making process (no more daily PRs, haha!).
I started learning more about how HBC is over prescribed and side effects are often under emphasized. I also learned about non hormonal alternative methods to prevent pregnancy like fertility awareness method, FAM. Which I had never even heard of before.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that as a 26 yo woman with a BS, I didn’t even know it wasn’t possible to get pregnant unless you’re ovulating. THANKS SEX ED🙄.
(FYI The 'fertile window' lasts up to 6-7 days. You are at your most fertile the day you ovulate and the day before. However, sperm can survive inside you for up to five days).
Despite this newfound info, I was still hesitant because I have relied on HBC for period regulation and pregnancy prevention my whole teenage and adult life. I decided to get a new IUD (my other one was near the expiration).
Removal and reinsertion was about equally as traumatic as the first time, but the cramps afterwards weren’t present. A few weeks go by, and I start to notice I’m just not feeling myself. I felt like I couldn’t handle any amount of stress. I would just cry over everything!
Now the doubts of how it could be effecting my strength and performance inside the gym if it’s giving me acne and making me feel like 💩(not to mention overall, long term health).
I made the scary but necessary decision to get it removed. Again I know there will be a definite adjustment period (no pun intended) for my body to get used to making its own hormones but I’m hoping the long term results and elimination of side effects will be worth it for me.
Now I’m not saying hbc is the devil and every woman should get off of it. I just know how under informed I have been for the last DECADE and I hope that my story empowers others to take charge of their bodies. Educate yourself on what’s going on inside your body and the things you’re putting into It. Then once you’ve collected as much information as possible, you can make an informed decision on what’s best for YOU, your lifestyle and your goals.
I’ll be using the Daysy Fertility Monitor for FAM + barrier which is highly accurate and user friendly to show you which days you are fertile by just measuring your basal body temp every morning. 🤒 There are also many other options out there!!
If you’re interested in learning more about FAM and other alternatives for HBC and how it could be effecting your hormones here are a couple amazing resources that have helped me.