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Why I am not interested in stopping my heavy and painful period

Please do not read this as a ‘if you take the pill, you suck’ letter; I am so delighted you’ve found something that allows you to be comfortable and happy. Instead read this more as permission to choose what you want to have, and to not be swayed just because you have heard that someone says something is perfect. Someone else’s perfect is not always your perfect.

My periods last a week every month, starting horrifically heavy (we are talking changing tampon every hour here!) and ending on day 7 with a weak flow. Day 1 and 2 are painful and then day 5 is painful as well. Once day 5 is over, we can get back to normal. 

I have had my period – the exact same format – for just over 14 years now. I am 28 (I am writing this in 2020!). I used to be in the unfortunate situation that I would wake in the night with pain and, at times have woken myself screaming. 

My period would alert me as to when it was coming – which is helpful – and knowing how the cycle would work would help for the days I knew I had to keep clear, and those that I could plan things. I also get pains on alternate months, in my ovaries, so I can track where the egg is coming from this month (geeky!)

When I was 16 (I think, it was either then or 18) I started taking the pill – as advised by my GP – to reduce the pains because it was taking over my life, and at the time I was embarrassed and unable to allow myself to rest and let my body do its natural work. 

The pill worked for 2 months, it was dreamy – no period at all. Then I didn’t stop bleeding for 9 months, we changed the pill situation, onto three others and none of it worked. Then we went back to the original one, and it worked, but I put on water weight, I had mood swings that were out of this world. I already have a bad temper, so this was dreadful!

I continued this for 18 months, because I could just about stop the mood swings but just keeping my mouth shut – that was  leaning curve. 

I, then, noticed that I didn’t really feel anything. Everything was a bit meh, and a bit ‘oh right’. I had suppressed the mood swings a little too much. Then I wanted to fall in love, I wanted to feel happy when things went well, I wanted to feel the adrenaline rush that comes with being nervous, or doing something for the first time and I wanted to be given the option again to enjoy the mood swings. 

Being angry is hard, it’s hard to control, it’s hard to explain to people, and it’s hard to be able to slow it down – but I wanted to feel angry, I wanted someone to get on my nerves. 

Weirdly, around this time the pill stopped working again; so I thought enough is enough, let’s step back. 

I came off everything – I stripped back to ‘normal’ me. It took a while to get the emotions back, but the periods were back in full swing straight away – they were strong, they were heavy, they messed up my schedule again, and they made me feel back to me again. 

As the hormones allowed me to feel my emotions again, I felt sexy when I wore clothes that fit; I lost the weight that had been hanging around regardless of what I had tried to do. I fell in love. I was able to feel the nerves and bring back to the sweating. 

I never thought I would miss sweating, ever. But, it felt good to sweat again…

My heavy periods mean that I am me, they mean that I am healthy and they mean that I am able to feel, I am able to enjoy the things I enjoy and have strong opinions against the things I cannot stand. 

They might knock me sideways for a week, but I am beyond happy to feel the emotions. 

I feel sexy when I know why I am feeling down, when I know why I am about to cry when I see a healthy looking pear ready to be eaten, when I know why my water retention is coming back for this cycle.

I feel sexy knowing what I am doing, knowing who I am, and knowing how I can feel again. 

Yep – having heavy periods means that you have to be on your A game and wearing any thin fabric or white jeans is out of the question for a week, but they also remind me of the time that I didn’t feel anything. And I would rather not wear white jeans than not have that time again. 

I have decided to keep my emotions, to keep my body as it is and to keep my heavy periods. I am helping myself help myself by exercising well during the month – this does help my pains, and also I have taken Magnesium which has helped but I have stopped that. No real reason, just forgot to take it and then my cycle was OK so didn’t feel the need to invest again. Not sure that’s the right way of looking at it though…

For my cycle and contraception, I use Natural Cycles – it has a lot of bad press, but I have been using it for 3 years, and loving it, it’s super easy and couldn’t be more accurate. For me. 

For the period week, I use period pants; I tried the cup and my body doesn’t want to grab on and keep the little thing inside… I used tampons and pads forever and then discovered that they were increasing my period pain intensity. I love Thinx and Mobodi

For actual period pain, pain killers don’t seem to hit it, whatever the doctor prescribes – my body don’t notice… not sure what that is trying to say… so I grab a cup of tea, whack a load of sugar in; get a hot water bottle – normally I lie on it, with it in the small of my back – and some chocolate and distract myself. That might be a tv show, it might be a good book, it might be a call to a friend (and I request they speak of nothing period related, so we keep the topic away from the pain!) and ride it out.

If I am out and about, and need to be, I use a period pain pad – like the ones you might use for your neck or back, they heat up when they are in contact with the air – super easy and super discreet.

It sucks, it is a pain in the bum – or should I say back – but it is me. I am healthy, I can feel my emotions and I finally have a grip of my bad temper, because I like it; I like that I am chemical free, and that I am empowered by my own pain and life distruption.

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Please do not read this as a ‘if you take the pill, you suck’ letter; I am so delighted you’ve found something that allows you to be comfortable and happy. Instead read this more as permission to choose what you want to have, and to not be swayed just because you have heard that someone says something is perfect. Someone else’s perfect is not always your perfect.

6 Comments

  1. Kathryn
    May 27, 2020 / 7:12 pm

    Thank you for writing this! Really frank and refreshing to read about something other than “isn’t the pill great”. It is, for SOME people, not all. I’ve had a similar experience and am back on the mini pill currently as I’ve been scared of dealing with my cycle again but I’m considering stopping and actually confronting it. I’ve been recommend a book – Period Power – so will be consulting that. Keep up the great posts 🙂

    • verenabowyer
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 9:02 am

      Thank you so much for reading! Yes, love Period Power – a great book on the whole topic! Sending you peace about making your decisions re your cycle, it’s always scary at the beginning! You’ve got this!!

  2. Kate
    May 28, 2020 / 6:45 am

    YES, thank you so much for this!!I was on the pill for 5 years and when I accidentally ran out I finally realised how much better I felt without it!Actual feelings again, yes with period pain, yes with ovulation pain, oh and spots? but so worth it to feel alive again?Never going on hormonal contraception again!

    • verenabowyer
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 9:01 am

      Totally get what you’re saying, thank you for reading it! So glad that you feel yourself again!!

  3. May 29, 2020 / 9:05 pm

    This was an eye-opener! I had never heard of period pants, which sound like a real game-changer (checked out the Thinx video). I also never realized some women had such a reaction to the BCPs – I used them faithfully for 30 years and they worked like a charm for me – how different we all are! Thanks for your honesty on a subject we women can’t know too much about.

    • verenabowyer
      Author
      June 2, 2020 / 8:02 am

      Thank you for reading! I’m delighted they worked for you, that’s such a nice feeling! Period pants really are eye openers, and life savers!!!!! Thank you!