Dealing with Feminine Issues

Well, it’s that time of month again.

If you’re already thinking, “Woah, woah, woah.  TMI!”, I’ll give you a moment to escape.

*hums to self*

Ok.  For those of you left, I stopped taking birth control pills several months ago.  My husband and I aren’t actively trying to get pregnant – I’m just tired of being on that medication.  I’ve been on some form of the pill since I was 11 for medical reasons.  When I was in London several years ago, I saw a temporary exhibit at the British Museum.  I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was called, but one installment featured a long table with every pill a man and woman took during their lives.  I remember feeling uneasy looking at the woman’s display – so many birth control pills.  There are some health benefits to it, yes.  It certainly helped my problem and relaxed me when it came to having sex with my husband.  Still…  Every time I felt “off”, my mind would recall the pill exhibit and I’d wonder how many I put into my system.  How many little white circles would line up on my own hypothetical table?  A rather scary scenario last year made me reconsider using the darn things ever again.  And although I’ve read recent studies that show agricultural runoff is far more detrimental to aquatic life than birth control hormones released into the water system via the sewer …  I’ve never felt good about the environmental impact of the chemicals.

Here’s where I need to pause and say very explicitly that I’m not against women using birth control.  I’m not trying to tell my readers to give up the pills.  Birth control of some form is very important to keep our population from getting even more out of control – I know that.  Like I said, I’ve been on the pill for years and this is just me explaining my journey and my desire to stop using them at this time.

Last summer, I talked with a friend who has also stopped taking the pill.  Like me, she’s married and hated the way the pills made her feel.  I have yet another friend who stopped using them and underwent the procedure to have an IUD in place to very good results.  For the time, I’m opting not to go that way since I’d like to have children in a few years and don’t feel like getting it in only to have to have it removed shortly after.  So here I am, pill free for coming on a year and starting to learn about my natural rythms.

It’s been interesting so far.  Because of the medical issues I’ve had since the onset of puberty, I never experienced a natural cycle.  My doctor at the time told me everything would likely even out as I aged and, now that I’m older, I’m noticing that!  (I do hope I didn’t just jinx myself).  I’m starting to really observe and listen to what my body is doing.  It’s an intimate way to get in touch with oneself, and quite empowering.

One downside to being off the pill is I have been experiencing more painful cramps than I have for over a decade.  They last for a day or so – nothing I can’t manage.  It’s just annoying, as half of my readership will know!  How to deal with that without throwing more pills down my gullet?

One of my weapons is a natural cream with cramp-bark.  I rub it on my lower abdomen when I feel the cramps coming on and it really helps alleviate the pain.  But my best friend?  Ginger.

I took this photo a few months ago when I originally intended to update about my natural attempts to deal with menstrual cramps.  My ginger root is all gone now… 😦

Ginger has been shown to be very beneficial to women experiencing menstrual cramps.    Many websites and herbal books recommend drinking ginger tea.  I had been using fresh ginger but ran out.  When my husband went shopping last night, he couldn’t find any ginger root at the store so he bought me some organic ginger tea from Yogi.  It doesn’t have the full bite that fresh ginger does, but it’s still very good!  I brought some bags to work with me this afternoon and it’s the only thing that kept me sane!  Along with this delicious, warming tea, I heartily recommend chocolate (organic/fair trade of course!) with bits of candied ginger in it.  I always crave chocolate during these times, and to mix it with my preferred medicine?  Yes please!

Good stuff!

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

26 thoughts on “Dealing with Feminine Issues

  1. Thanks for the suggestion of ginger! I’m going to buy some next time I get my “mega cramps” as I call them. Since i’m on the DepoPrivera shot I only really get cramps towards the end of my 9 weeks inbetween shots. When I do get them they’re like three months worth at once. I’m putting ginger on my shopping list!!

    1. Oh my gosh, those cramps must be awful… How do you like the DepoPrivera? I don’t know many people using that method at the moment. Sorry if that’s a very personal question, but I’m quite curious. Feel free not to answer!

  2. Honestly, I’ve had zero problems with it, well no serious ones. Typically you get the shot every 10-12 weeks. After 9 I’ll start spotting and it won’t stop until I get another shot. I just go in at 8-9 weeks now and no problems. The main concern for me is returning to fertility (it can take up to a year) and bone loss, so I take calcium supplements daily.
    I experienced no other side effects. It is strange not to get a period though, and I was counseled that it is not for those who freak out if they don’t get one and think that they are pregnant.
    Mainly I went on it because I kept getting functional ovarian cysts. The gist of these cysts is that they occur when you ovulate. You shouldn’t ovulate on birth control but I had gotten cysts anyway and ended up having two surgeries to remove them. My new doctor in Rochester wanted to switch me to something that is more regulated and has no human error. I’m happy to report that I have not had any problems with cysts since switching to the shot.
    Eventually I’d like to stop taking it. I was very in tune to my cycle before I started taking birth control, but at this point it’s not a great option. Once I’m married I think I will stop getting the shots and see what happens. I can understand feeling strange about taking so many pills, I take 7 prescription pills a day plus vitamins. I want to get rid of three of them (one script) if possible.
    Sorry that’s so long!!

    1. I’m glad to hear it’s working for you! The “return to fertility” is supposedly a concern for many using various forms of birth control. Although the pill has been perfected since, one of my mother’s friends couldn’t conceive for ten years after stopping the pill. It’s another reason I’ve stopped.

      I’m very glad to hear you haven’t experienced any ovarian cysts after your new medication. I think my sister was having a problem with them but it wasn’t severe and whatever she’s on now has helped.

      And don’t apologize for the long reply! I appreciate your taking the time to read my post, reply, and answer my questions. It’s been such a long time since we’ve talked anyway! 🙂

  3. Ooph. Jealous! I’ve been on the pill since I was about 20 — that’s seven years now I guess! I have so many troubles with it, too. Migraines, cramps, PMDD mood swings, incessant, erm, well, bleeding for lack of a better term — you name it, I’ve had it. But I’m just not too comfortable with many of the other birth control options out there, and I’m not ready for children right now. Unfortunately, long(ish)-term options like the “four periods a year” pill, the Depo-shot, and probably the IUD (though I haven’t tried it) just cause said constant bleeding. I’ve finally found a pill that works for me — fewer migraines, fewer mood swings, shorter periods — and I’ll probably stick to it (read: cling to it) for awhile.

    Sorry, I’m probably going into way too much detail, but this is an issue I could talk/rant about for hours.

    It’s tough, it really is. It’s *so* much easier for the woman to provide the birth control, which just seems wrong. We’ve talked about having my partner “snipped” but I’m not really comfortable with making him do something invasive when it will just have to be reversed in a few years!

  4. I don’t think it’s tmi, over half the world has, is, or will deal with this sort of stuff in their life, it’s kinda sad we can’t be more open about it, it would probably be helpful to a lot of people if we were.

    I’m sick of birth control too, I just don’t want kids yet and don’t feel confident enough about using other means to go off it. But you can bet I dream of the day after I have my second and final kid and I send my husband in to get snipped. I actually think he looks forward to it in a way too since he is not a fan of all the side effects I get from bc either.

    Still, I am glad I don’t get any other crazy side effects from the nuvaring I use now, other than the ones I always get from bc like super emotional and lack of sex drive. I already take enough pills (10 or so) a day, so I don’t need another one to add to my pillbox. And I do enjoy being able to skip my period whenever I feel like, I will definitely miss that in the future.

    I’m still hoping that male bc thing I shared awhile ago will make it here so we can just use that instead 🙂

    1. Oh gosh, I totally agree about how it shouldn’t be considered “tmi.” Unfortunately, whenever I bring up the subject, someone will cry about it being too much. It really is a shame. We live in such an artificially sterilized world sometimes…

      I was also telling my husband that I want him to undergo a vasectomy after I’m done with kids. I’m really glad yours receptive to that idea! Seems better than anyone taking a bunch of pills, that’s for sure! Thanks for the comment, Jess! Always good to hear from you. 🙂

  5. I’ve never taken the pill, although I was frankly quite jealous of my sister when she had to go period free for a whole year (trying to get the endometriosis under control). Generally I just take aspirin for pain although my moontime is one of the few times I will break down and take specific medicine. I find actually eating something helps… maybe it just gives that region of the body something else to do, maybe it’s just in my head. Chocolate of course is a magic elixir! I’ll have to remember about the ginger. I always keep ginger root pills around for travelling, motion sickness sucks. Luckily I only get feminine cramps for the first ‘serious’ day of my moontime, then they go away. So if I can sleep through them… I’m a happy girl. ^__^

    1. Interesting thought about eating to give your abdomen something else to do! Now that you mention it, my cramps seem less obnoxious when I have lunch or dinner. Like you, my cramps only really antagonize me the first and sometimes second day of the “serious” part of my period. I feel bad for women who experience truly debilitating cramps for several days!

  6. Calcium helps me. I’ve tried the calcium chews, and I’ve tried drinking more milk before my period. Both help.
    I’ve never taken the pill either. When I was on birth control, I did the depo shots which last 3 months. I had some problems, one of the side-effects was spotting/bleeding, but overall, I think it was the best choice for me. I did feel much better when I stopped getting the injection because like you, I am wary of chemicals. My biggest complaint with birth control for women is we have to go to the doctor to get it, while men just go to the store for condoms. I think birth control should be much more widely available and easier to use.

    1. What you say about calcium makes sense. When I was reading about menstrual cramping the other day, several medical sites discussed how women with poor nutrition often suffer from worse cramps. Taking multivitamins or eating a healthier diet is supposed to help.

  7. TMI Alert; I stopped taking the pill about 6 years ago and despite the increased cramps, I have never been happier. I didn’t realize just how much the hormones were messing with me till they were gone. They gave me constant migraines, made me moody (possibly contributing to my depression) and I was never able to achieve an orgasm. Me and my husband only only want the one kid so we still practice safe(r) sex but we use a more natural approach and it as been successful for 5 years now…. and because I know some one is going to ask, we use the pull-out method. As old fashion as it sounds we take the view point that if it fails, it is the will of the gods.

    1. Thanks for sharing, especially the personal information. It may make some people uncomfortable, but these are the very real issues women have to deal with. If we don’t discuss these with each other, we could feel isolated. Our bodies should be sacred to us!

      1. It’s funny pregnancy is the same. My friends daughter will be 1 this summer and she was saying how she wished people would just have been honest with her about some of the things that happen during pregnancy like incontinence. We need more people to be honest and open about this stuff

      2. Yes! The truth about pregnancy is slowly reaching me as I know more and more people having children. I want to be prepared and not surprised by everything the generation before sought to hide out of embarrassment.

  8. Hi! Thanks for your post!
    What is in your cramp bark cream? I am growing cramp bark now and can’t wait to make some external formulations with it!

  9. You can also take cramp bark as a tea (in small amounts), which works well for me (although you have to decoct it) and some other things that have worked well have been yarrow (added benefit of helping with colds!) and white willow bark (although this is VERY bitter. I had to take it with something else like blackcurrent cordial).

    Also, didn’t know if you knew this but queen anne’s lace seeds are supposed to be natural contraceptives. You have to take about a teaspoon a day though, so finding that much seed is quite hard unless you live near an area that has a lot growing.

  10. I have a tea I sell that helps with cramps and such. Mind you it has red clover in it so if you might, even MIGHT be pregnant I wouldn’t suggest it. My wife drinks it by the pint whenever she’s on her period with lots of honey.

    *chuckles as she sees picture* Ahh ginger, is there anything you can’t do?

      1. Ain’t it nice to have stuff just hanging around in your cupboards? You never know when you are going to need elderberry or calendula or peppermint.

  11. My mom was on birth control for YEARS (I don’t even recall how many) for medical issues and the little white thing gave her a stroke in the end! Suffice it to say she doesn’t take them anymore, and I refuse to.

    Though you know what, I’d never thought to look into the environmental impact of the runoff of pills! I already avoid taking medicine as much as I can (just because I don’t like putting that stuff in my body when there are natural methods that work just as well), but I’m sure looking into that will give me even more of a reason to avoid them.

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