If you’ve been following along for a bit now you may have seen me talk about my experience on hormonal birth control. In case you missed it, check out my first blog post. I wanted to follow up on how my experience OFF of HBC has been, now that it’s been over a year!
I think the perception of periods and women’s health is shifting for the better, especially in our space of health and fitness. It’s not as taboo as it once was because we are realizing periods aren’t something to be ashamed of. They are a vital part of being healthy and your best self!
I went on on this journey of learning about periods and menstruation because I am searching for the pinnacle of health, happiness and fitness. I realized I was optimizing most other areas of my life, sleep, training and nutrition, without even stopping to consider if HBC was something that could be hindering my athletic performance or health.
If you are on hormonal birth control, you aren’t ovulating and you are not getting a real period. “Natural ovulatory menstrual cycles are how women make estrogen and progesterone which are important for general health, not just for making a baby.” Lara Briden.
Now this isn’t to say I think HBC is BAD, and no one should be on it. I just think that women have the right and obligation to inform ourselves with what is actually happening in our bodies and decide what to put in them. A lot of time HBC is prescribed as a bandaid solution for problems like acne and PMS without actually getting to the bottom of the underlying issues. It’s up to you to decide what your goals and circumstances are to choose the best option for you.
For me, my goals are optimizing performance. So by having and tracking my menstrual cycle this is just another tool I can use to be in tuned with my body. There are many ways to go about tracking your cycle but I have been using the DAYSY or about a year to track my cycles. It is a “smart” thermometer which you measure your basal body temperature (BBT) every morning before you get out of bed. The method of BBT tracking has been around for a long time because it can tell you if you are actually ovulating and producing beneficial hormones. Your BBT will spike by a small amount. So you can also predict fertility. You are fertile up to 7 days before ovulation, so if you have regular cycles, you can start to chart and predict your window of fertility with a pretty high accuracy. You can also track cervical fluid (it’s not as scary as it sounds) to help improve the accuracy of fertility. Daysy does all the charting and calculations for me. So I know when I’m fertile and need to be careful by using other natural methods of contraception and also when I’m about to get my periods, so I can be aware of any symptoms I may have and link those to a specific time of my cycle.
Since coming off of HBC I have luckily had very mild, and regular periods. During my transition I used some supplementation which can help minimize side effects, such as zinc, b vitamins, magnesium, vitamin d and omega 3s.
I don’t have the same anxiety I used to have while on HBC, my body composition has started to change and I finally put on some muscle mass, and my acne is FINALLY starting to clear up! All of these changes have happened very slowly, but I am confident to say I’m so glad I decided to see for myself.
If you are struggling with some of the same questions that I had, start at ‘The Period Repair Manual’ and try to gather as much info as you can from these sources, Lara Briden, Stacy Sims, Kate Gordon which have helped me a ton! Good luck and feel free to DM me with any questions you have. I am obviously not a DR and can just speak from my own personal experience. But it’s time for more women to start having this conversation <3