I knew that something was wrong with my health because I’d been seeing signs for weeks. My non-stop work ethic meant I was crazy tired at night. Then my breath turned a little worse for wear and my sweat started to lose its rosy edge (prime signs that my liver has had enough). Finally I had two anovulatory cycles in a row, meaning that my body didn’t ovulate at all. I skipped straight to my period without ever cycling. Uh-oh.
So I sat down with a hot water bottle and Christiane Northrup’s book Women’s Health, Women’s Wisdom, not a bad way to spend an evening. As I read through, a particular passage jumped out at me “A woman…may develop ovarian problems if she feels that she has no means of escape from her situation and that the outer world is preventing her from changing.” Goodness is that me? Sure is. For the past few months I have felt desperately resigned to my situation. I was telling myself that the reason I was so stuck, so drained, so completely run-ragged was because I was working two jobs. The reason why I never had a single moment for myself or my family, why my health suffered, was outside my control. For months I have felt that it was only temporary, that once things changed in my situation, once I could taper down my day job and work on Happy Yogis full-time I would be happy, healthy, and have time to take care of myself. Only then! I felt stuck.
Then last week, my wellness coach (yes wellness coaches have wellness coaches) asked me if the stress I was under would continue once my goals were reached. I said no at the time. I truly believed it was my situation that was causing my stress, I was powerless to it. There was nothing I could do to get my cycle savvy until something changed in my circumstances. That’s what I believed!
Finally, the theme continued when I was listening to my weekly HTB church podcast only to have him tell me straight out that when listening to God, be open to the message that keeps coming back to you. My walls tumbled. I’ve heard it over and over again. Not only that but I’ve SAID it over and over again, and yet I haven’t listened. I’ve been telling my clients: Take care of yourself first. Listen to your femininity, embrace your emotions and beliefs because they are a huge contributing factor to disease and hormonal imbalance. And here I was, hormonally imbalanced.
All this time I didn’t realize how my own beliefs were affecting my health. I realized that the circumstances I couldn’t change, I could change. And more than that, the goals I set for myself were aggressive and unfair to my body. I didn’t need to have my book out by April. I could easily have it out in May and not be under so much stress. In fact, in doing that I can dedicate a whole extra day in my schedule just for my own wellbeing. Why wasn’t I allowing myself that in the first place? Why was I putting such high demands on myself? Why did I feel so resigned to a position I myself was putting myself in?
The next day my prayers were answered when my boss at my day job straight out asked me what future I wanted to have with his company. Since the universe has been spinning me in this direction for a while I felt this was my moment. I asked for what I wanted and he gave it to me. Starting this week I am ditching the 9-5. I’ll be working as a part-time contractor for my day job on a very limited basis. I’ll have more time to devote to my wellness clients, and more time to devote to myself.
I’m not going to take the busy with me either. In fact, I’m giving it up! I was causing my busy, not my circumstances. As soon as I came to this realization, I healed. I ovulated last week for the first time in two months and felt like I gained a part of myself I’d been missing out on. I’m so excited for this change in roles and so in awe at how connected my body is to my beliefs.
What do you believe? How is that affecting your health?
I suppose that is a good enough title, at least it is a question I want answered. This blog marks the beginning of a new health battle for me. One that has me reading “How to get Pregnant” books while not wanting to get pregnant at all. Where are the “I want to be fertile, but I don’t want to have kids” books? I would totally read those. If you know of one, let me know.
Despite my love for wobbly little children, and my husband’s occasional “If we have kids…” comments (usually after a glass of bourbon), we don’t want kids. I know you don’t believe me, no one will until we are 50 and child-free, but as for now, birth control is a must. Yet the fact remains that I am currently battling some form of infertility and I don’t know how to cope with that. Not because I want children, but because I want to be healthy. And I want to practice healthy birth control.
After ditching my birth control pills 11 months ago in favor of alternative (healthier) options, I have only had one period. Sounds great on the surface, but I know it isn’t healthy or sustainable. It also makes me a slave to condoms until I can achieve some sort of regularity with my cycle. So this means I have a new challenge to solve, and it will be solved. I am not the sort of person to go through life accepting irregular cycles. Just as I vowed in 2011 to get to the bottom of my stomach pain (turned out to be food allergies), right now I vow to get to the bottom of my infertility.
Here are the preliminary facts I’m working with: Despite having many names (PCOS, irregular cycles, etc), I know that the hormonal changes that are supposed to be happening in my body aren’t. It isn’t the lack of periods that is the problem, it is that I’m not ovulating. But I guess why should I expect to be? Birth control pills have been faking my body out for seven years, tricking it into not ovulating and suppressing my natural hormone secretion. Now that my body is on its own- it doesn’t remember how to create the hormones necessary for ovulation to occur and thus menstruation. It’s stuck.
So how to unstick? I have decided to begin my research with food. I am acutely aware that food is a powerful medicine if used correctly (and a horrible poison if not). So I’ve picked a batch of five books to read based on Ayurvedic and Chinese wisdom that promise to bring back my much missed hormones by making diet and lifestyle changes. I’m just going to skip the chapters on how to conceive once fertile. I am also (starting immediately) no longer eating sugar or soy (both known to be hormone saboteurs). Hopefully this starting point will reveal the next paving stone to jump to and eventually I will end this year with a fertile yet child-free existence and super rock star health. Woohoooo!
Since it appears that forums everywhere have post-birth control women complaining of the same ailments, I promise to share the journey with you. Yay! Period fun for all!! Let me know if you have any tips or suggestions. Wish me luck! (Bon period??)
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I stopped taking my birth control pills. Here’s why. Here’s what I’m doing instead. What was getting off the pill like? I’ll tell you, but it’s totally going to be TMI. But you know what? I don’t really care! Someone had to! I find it hard to believe that no one else is willing to give an honest account of what it is like to go pill-free! So hopefully this will help you somehow.
Before the Pill
Before I started taking the pill I had regular periods, clear skin, and a skinny teenager body. I started taking Yasmin birth control pills when I was 19 years old. The normal stuff changed- boobs got bigger, skin a bit clearer, but for the most part, I felt normal.
After the Pill
In the first year after getting off the hormones:
- I ovulated only once
- I had only one period
- I changed my skin regimen
- I had a really hard time finding bras that fit
- I saw every possibly spectrum of emotion (mini-menopause anyone?)
- I took three pregnancy tests (all negative- thank heaven!)
- I started getting my lip waxed
- And finally, I felt better than I ever have in my life. (phew!)
Here is how it all shook out:
The first three months I felt super lethargic and cried all. the. time. Seriously. My husband constantly thought I was preggo since I couldn’t stop the weeping. And when we tried to go hiking it was all I could do to muster the strength to get to the top. I didn’t have a single ounce of energy. Our Thanksgiving trip last year was essentially a week of me giving up. I felt like I had no strength, no willpower, no happiness. This doom and gloom hovered over me on and off for about three months. Real fun right? I also felt sick to my stomach on a number of occasions which is what led to the late night pregnancy tests. The first of which showed up as “inconclusive” which resulted in an all-nighter where husband and I stressed over what our lives would be like with children. (Lesson learned- Garret would probably adjust super fast. I would freak out.)
Talk about feeling like a teenager again. Maybe the reason people kept saying that I looked young was because of the acne! I experienced major outbreaks on my face on-and-off for the first 6-months off the pill (at which point I had my first period and things got better). After the six-month mark my skin started clearing up considerably and I’m now very happy with my complexion.
That being said, my skin has totally changed. All these years I thought that I had dry skin, turns out I don’t! That was just the pill drying me all out. My skin now is more oily to normal (which is actually nice!). I have had to completely change my skin regimen! I used to use the Aveda Botanical Kinetics skin care line which is for dry skin. I would wash my face once a day, spritz on some toner, and then use the hydrating lotion or a sunscreen depending on the time of day.
While I still love Aveda, I decided that since I was switching, I might as well upgrade my skin care line to Intelligent Nutrients. For those of you that are not as crazy as me- this is the skin care line that Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda, started after he sold Aveda. It is far more natural, and more expensive, but I am OBSESSED with it. He even grows the fruits and veggies himself and recommends drinking the hairspray with a little gin and cucumber for a refreshing treat (yeah, it’s that natural!). I now use the IN skin care line. I wash my face at night, spritz on the mist, then serum or sunscreen depending on the time of day.
Totally got a mustache 7 months after stopping. NOT COOL. Over time it started to nag at me more and more until I was seeing an undeniable shadow that was driving me up the wall. I went to my hair salon and asked for my first ever lip wax. I was so worried about having to start the process and then keep it going forever, but when I sat under the light my esthetician said “Don’t worry, a lot of people don’t even need a lip wax, let’s take a look…. yeah… let’s take care of that.” Alrighty. Since then I really can’t tell if I still need them or not. It seems like I am still going through a hair influx where sometimes it grows in and sometimes it doesn’t. So I’ve been getting one about every 4 weeks now for maintenance. We will see if that needs to continue. One thing I do know is that as you get older, facial hair gets worse, so either way I was probably going to head in that direction at some point. But at 27? I have to wonder.
I dropped from a 32c to a 30B pretty immediately after getting off the pill and now can’t find a bra to save my life. I really like it though! Maybe now my boobs won’t get saggy when I’m old! YES! Nothing worse than boobs that hang around your waist (or hips). But still, the hunt for a good bra continues. Apparently bra companies figure that if you have small boobs you don’t need to lift them up. Which means that all bras for my size are little cotton things that don’t actually offer support, they just sort of sit there. They are comfy and all, and I realize that an under-wire would be totally overkill, but I know in my heart that there has to be something that will keep them up!
The Menstrual Cycles
I had my “fake” period the week after stopping the pill, but then did not get my first “real” period until 6 1/2 months after stopping. My body definitely had a major problem starting back up again and didn’t finally regulate until I took things into my own hands and healed my anovulation holistically. My body is still healing from the years it has had to keep my ovaries in hibernation. Thank heaven I didn’t want to get pregnant, or I would have been completely heartbroken. It just wouldn’t have been possible that first year.
By the way, It’s ok if you go without a period for a couple months when you first get off the pill. Any longer than three months, however, means your body will build up the endometrial lining without ever shedding it. This becomes a breeding ground for malignant cells and eventually cervical cancer. You need to check in with your doctor every three months during anovulatory cycles to get a one-week stint of hormones so you shed that lining. If you have to do this more than once- your body might need a jump-start to get going again.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this crazy. Ditching my birth control pills spurred a health revolution for me and eventually I revolved my whole business around it! It became my mission to help women ditch their birth control pills and heal hormonal imbalances holistically. Best of all I wrote a guide so you don’t have to experience this same post-pill craze. Simply sign-up for my newsletter and you’ll receive my Ditch your Birth Control guide all about how you can get off the steady hormonal drip and onto more natural alternatives. I hope these help you on your journey to better health! Lots of love in your direction!
Anyone else struggle getting off the pill? I’d love to hear all about your journey!Read More