I recently came to have a new respect for my period. Well, not exactly new, a recognition, a remembering if you will. You see I haven’t had “real” periods since 2004. After the birth of my second son late summer 2003, I decided that an IUD would be the best option for me. I was a nurse at the time, but not yet in OBGYN. I chose the Paragard (copper) IUD mainly because I didn’t want hormones, but many other factors were considered. I won’t take you through the complicated algorithm of decisions I tediously and annoyingly weighed before choosing. Just know it wasn’t a light choice. It was the best decision I made with the information I had at the time.
That last sentence often precedes a story that you know doesn’t end well. I bled like a horse. It was awful, horrific! I already had heavy, crampy, long, aggy periods naturally. They showed up on a classic 28 day cycle and lasted 5 days. The cramping was just bad enough to know that I was cramping, but not bad enough to need Advil or Motrin. I slowed down a bit maybe, but a period never took me out the game. “It will pass, just gotta tough it through, no complaining, it’s normal”, I always told myself. The Paragard was the copper devil. My copper devil. I realize that many women choose the Paragard and have a happy relationship with it. I am happy for them. I did not. Each period was worse than the previous. It was the copper devil.
I started working for an OBGYN practice early summer 2004. I was on my period and complained about the amount of pain I was in to the doctor I worked with. She told me, “Just switch to the Mirena, you’ll be much happier”. “But the hormones and-”, she cut me off. “You’re suffering. There’s no need to suffer. We can change it this afternoon if you want. Think about it”. I didn’t have to think about it long. I was suffering and I wanted it to stop. I chose to switch and found that to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Life was good after that. Not only did I have the benefit of a birth control option that did not require me to think about it more than my annual well woman exam. Months after that my periods began to slowly fade until they completely stopped. I was in reproductive bliss. No more bleeding, no more pads, tampons, pantyliners, period panties. All my panties were good enough to be seen in public should it ever occur (by mistake of course)!!! There was a high rate of celebrity snatches (dressed and undressed) being caught by the paparazzi at the time. Not that I thought I was a celebrity or anything lol, but you know- learn from others’ mistakes as they make them they say.
So here I am nearly 16 years later and the effects of my most recent Mirena (the hormones) have likely worn off early according to my doctor. She suggested replacing it early at 4 years rather 5. Then the good ‘ol insurance trickery kicks in. “Birth control is free as long as it is preventive. The code for your procedure is not preventive so you will have to meet your deductible of half a million dollars and one of each of your children’s legs. DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200, AND SUFFER UNTIL YOU PAY US OUR MONEY!” Like what? Why so gangsta, insurance company? So next year it’s free, but right now it’s all my money? Now my first reproductive dilemma in 16 years is this: give these people my money or tough through these periods like I used to until the insurance gods deem me worthy of a pain free life.
This is the fourth consecutive period I’ve had since 2004. While they are not the copper devil periods, they are more than my adolescent/young adult periods. I can’t just power through these with the will of youth on my side. They hurt like hell and are difficult to manage. I have to stop to rest now. I have to go to bed early. In fact, it is really late right now and I’m kicking myself because I have to be on my feet most of the day tomorrow. I wear the shoes with ample support when it comes. I take long hot baths with clary sage and lavender drops. I pay attention to my mood, because there is a definite adjustment again. The Mirena masked that. It lessened the symptoms. I didn’t feel the cycle anymore and I realize I missed that. It feels good to feel the cycle again, to feel connected, to pay attention to myself. It feels good to handle myself with tender care rather than power through suffering like a machine.
Reunited and it feels sooooo…like a period. I am entering the dreaded day 2 and my Libra scales are quickly dipping to the side of “Give these people your money so you can stop suffering. Didn’t Mirena teach you anything”? I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t want to force myself to suffer through this every month. However, there is something serious to be said about feeling the connection to my cycle again. Maybe it’s worth powering through a few more before I make a final decision.
**This blog post is not to be taken as medical advice. I also do not suggest any one method of birth control over another. I believe that each woman has to make the decision that is best for herself and her family’s needs. I am simply sharing MY truth and I appreciate you for reading.