So girls, I haven’t had my period in 5 months.
No, I’m not pregnant. Yes, I am starting to get a little (a lot) concerned.
I came off the contraceptive pill in January after taking it for over 10 years. Like a lot of women my age, I was told as a 16 year old that it was perfectly healthy, would clear my annoying acne, ease my period pain and create a whole new world of convenience through the ability to “skip” periods.
Oh and of course, not fall pregnant.
And it did all of these things wonderfully.
But now, a decade or so later, a generation of us are starting to come off the pill for health reasons, to start a family or to just “see what happens”.
And what’s happening (or not happening in my case) is scary. I’ve heard stories of women gaining and losing cray-cray amounts of weight, getting full blown acne after years of clear skin and having irregular and painful periods. Or inexistent in my case.
But perhaps the most frightening side effects are miscarriage or inability to fall pregnant. Yes people, infertility.
Which sounds crazy. But think, the pill is designed to STOP you from falling pregnant. And if after years of controlling my cycles, my body still doesn’t “remember” how to menstruate, how on earth could I expect it to not only conceive (say if I wanted to fall pregnant right now) but to also maintain a healthy 9 month pregnancy?
Which is what it is naturally designed to do.
‘Often women coming off the pill have long cycles or do not see a period return for on average six months… Women who conceive within 6 months of coming off the pill present with less red blood cells and plasma folate levels which can lead to recurrent miscarriage.’
Scary stuff. So is the fact that most women on the pill or who have recently come off the pill are deficient in zinc as it is one of the major essential minerals severely drawn out via the pill. And zinc deficiency can cause major behavioural problems in children, let alone causing prolonged labours, reduced skin elasticity in birth (think OUCH) and cracked nipples. Fun!
You can read more about the pill and fertility on Nat’s blog here.
So after almost half a year without menstruating (my inner 16 year old Claire is going WHAT? THAT’S AWESOME!) I’m starting to get scared.
How did I naively believe for so long that taking this little drug everyday for most of my post-pubescent life was healthy and acceptable?
Well, basically it’s because it’s what we were told. Mostly. I went on the pill after only 12 months after getting my first period and I know people who were on it a lot earlier than that. I sure hope we don’t look back one day and go “Wow, that was a major fuck up in the history of women’s health”.
I want to have children. One day. And I’ve grown to love the hell out of my body and myself. Which means taking my health seriously and making wellness a priority. Not choosing convenience and letting “Future Claire” deal with the consequences anymore.
So I’m off to the Naturopath this week to suss my hormones and work out this where-the-hell-is-my-period situation. I’ll keep you updated.
Until then, I’d love to know if you have ever come off the contraceptive pill and what reaction your body had. Or maybe you’re on the pill now but have been hearing similar freak-outs and concerns?
Let me know in the comments! And if you know anyone who would benefit from this post too, please feel free to share it.
If you’re looking at making positive health and lifestyle changes, I have loads of recipes, personal anecdotes and insights in my She Is Radiant eRange. Check it out here. I also recommend this eBook Healing Hypothalamic Amenorrhea by nutritionist Kate Callaghan.
Finally, if it’s PCOS specific information you’re looking for, I’d love to point you in the direction of Dr. Nat Kringoudis’ eCourse Debunking PCOS.
Please remember to speak to your own health professional team before making any significant changes to your lifestyle.