The more I connect with other woman who have had similar experiences with birth control, the more I feel that this is a conversation that needs to be had on a larger scale.
Western medicine is wonderful. We’re lucky to live in a time when there are vaccines, cures for once deadly diseases, and cutting edge surgeries to fix injuries or problems that would otherwise be impossible to treat. With that said, I’m worried that western medicine neglects to address underlying causes of problems or imbalances within the body; instead, pills are prescribed that only mask symptoms or treat one problem only to give rise to another.
Fellow Ethical Writers Coalition Hanna, of Sotela, and I connected a couple months back with our similar experiences with birth control.
I will be sharing my personal experience once I’m further along in my healing process, but I am very happy to share Hanna’s here right now.
Hanna blogs over at Sotela Blog and is the founder of sustainable clothing brand Sotela. She create eco-friendly dresses that will always fit, no matter how a woman’s body changes. In fact, as you will read, Hanna started her brand as a response to bloating and digestive issues she struggled with, which often made it difficult to find clothes that fit. She realized that there must be lots of woman who are frustrated with the way their clothes fit at certain times of the month or when their bodies change.
The following was originally featured on Sotela Blog
The more I talk to women about the reason I started Sotela, the more I find out how common digestive and hormonal issues are among women.
Up until last year, I had been on birth control pills for 7 years. My doctor recommended the pill because I had irregular periods and terrible PMS. The pill was exactly the “relief” I needed because I wasn’t doubled over in pain every month.
After getting married, I started feeling off and not like myself. I chalked it up to a new birth control brand that I had switched to right before the wedding.
In 2015, I decided to completely get off birth control pills. My intuition told me something was off and I needed a change. The first couple months were great because I didn’t have PMS or heavy periods like I previously had in college. However, three months after getting off the pill, I had major bloating that made me look pregnant. I thought it was the heavy meal I had eaten the weekend before, but a week had passed and still no relief. This started the long journey with countless doctors to figure out what was wrong.
The first appointment I had with my doctor was 3 weeks into the bloating. She determined a UTI was causing the bloating and sent me home with antibiotics and Gas-x. I finished the treatment and still felt bloated. She sent me to get an ultrasound and found that I had cysts in my ovaries and a fatty liver. The liver part threw her off because I’m not an alcoholic or overweight. I eat a plant based diet so I didn’t think it could be that.
My doctor sent me to a gastroenterologist and after an endoscopy, they found a bacterial infection in my stomach. Cue the antibiotics, yet again. Everyone thought it was IBS, but I was positive it wasn’t. Still no answers…
The cysts had continued growing and now I started breaking out all over my face (hello, puberty!). Birth control pills were again recommended as a solution for my cysts and acne. I refused to go back to the one thing I knew that caused these issues.
I decided to try eastern medicine and contacted a chinese doctor who also did acupuncture. He told me it was stress and nothing more. Even though I knew there was more, he had a point. My dad passed away of stomach cancer 13 years ago so bloating and stomach issues scared me. I tried his herbs and went to acupuncture for two months. Things had felt better, but the bloating wasn’t completely gone.
I found my answer in the most unexpected place, The Lively Show podcast. In November, she interviewed Dr. Alissa Vitti, the hormone expert. Everything I had been thinking was finally confirmed. I had a hormone imbalance that started in high school leading to irregular periods and PMS. I never addressed these issues and in college they only got worse, which is why I started taking the pill.
Birth control pills are like a bandaid. They treat your symptoms by shutting your hormones off. If you start taking the pill because of an irregularity (i.e. irregular periods, PMS, cysts, acne, polyps, PCOS, etc) then you have a hormone imbalance that needs to be treated as soon as possible.
After listening to the episode, I bought Dr. Vitti’s book, Womancode, and have been following her hormone balancing protocol. I no longer have bloating, the acne is 90% better, and I’m starting to feel normal. The best part was that I didn’t have to take any medication to start feeling better. There’s a reason why Hippocrates said “Food is medicine.”
If you are a woman, I highly recommend reading Womancode. It is so important we start learning and talking about our cycle because most of us really don’t know what’s going on other than we ovulate and have a period every month. It’s truly amazing what our bodies can do and I think it is time we know exactly what it is doing every day of our cycle. WE can optimize our health, energy and lives by simply living in sync with our bodies.
I’m so grateful that women are opening up about problems they’ve had with birth control. It’s a conversation that doesn’t happen enough. My generation is really the first generation that spent great lengths of time on birth control and now we’re seeing what it has done to some of our bodies. Thanks to Hannah for sharing.