One of the messages that I try to convey to my readers is that you MUST listen to your body. The other message – which is a mucher harder one to convey and certainly harder for my readers to follow through on – is to be your own advocate. Sometimes your physicians are not as educated about hormones and birth control options as they should be. But as a sufferer of endometriosis you know that birth control is the first line of defense for reducing period pain. In some cases, its used to abolish your period altogether so that by eliminating your cycle, you eliminate the pain that comes with it.
The first time I went on birth control was at the age of 14. Birth control in the late 90’s were not what they are today. I mean, for the most part it was just a bunch of hormone and a whole lotta side effects. I gained about 40 lbs and that is NOT the age you want to be feeling overweight. I stopped taking the pill out of self consciousness but eventually resumed the pill a year later simply because the pain was too unbearable. Nevertheless I have been on many forms of birth control for over 20 years. Some worked, others didnt, and sometimes they start out working but lose its efficacy over time.
After my second lap in March 2018 I was put on Visanne. Technically I was supposed to go on it before my surgery but I forgot (oops!). The idea with Visanne is that its a progestin-only oral pill, so the goal is to reduce the estrogen in your body and hence reduce the bleeding/pain and growth of endometrium (which is found in your uterus) and endometrial lesions (potentially outside of your uterine cavity). In addition, I was asked to take them continuously to abolish my cycle altogether. It didn’t work!!!! Not only did it NOT WORK but it made me feel bloated and gross and unattractive. Over the course of 6 months I was having constant endo-belly. I mean, everyday, all the time. I literally had to buy a whole new wardrobe to accommodate my wider midsection. Ladies this is not the way of life!! So I did what no patient should do… I stopped taking it and switched to the pack of old birth control pills I was taking (and loved!) before my surgery. I knew it was only a month before I was scheduled to see my new specialist so really, what could be the harm? Initially I think the results were psychosomatic but I instantly felt more human. Then, the physical symptoms followed. The bloating over the course of 1 month was dramatic. Well,.. at least it felt dramatic.
Once I was able to sit down with my new specialist (new because I moved across the country from Vancouver to Ottawa), we looked at the big picture. Not only was visanne not impacting my hormone cycle, but it was bloating me. Then you add in that I have ulcerative colitis and it paints a better picture of why my body may not be absorbing the pill format of the hormone. That’s when we brought in Mirena – a progestin-only IUD. Without going into details about the procedure or the discomfort, the fact of the matter is Mirena is doing what its supposed to do. Month over month my periods are lighter. I’ve heard it takes about 7-8 months before its completely unnoticeable but I’m not there yet. I still feel period cramping without the bleeding, but i’m only 4 months in. Moreover, the progestin in this format is isolated to my pelvic cavity which means it doesn’t have the opportunity to bind to progesterone receptors near or on my gut. I’ve had zero bloating (minus the occasional endo belly which I mitigate with my diet) for 3 months at least.
Remember. The goal is to listen to your body and challenge your doctor when you KNOW your quality of life is not optimal. Think outside the box. Read up on options and present them to your doctor. And above all, if you ever have any questions please message me. You can email me, or DM me on social media (@crampmystyleblog).