One Cycle Down...My Journey Coming Off The Contraceptive Pill
As the title would suggest, I’ve finally had one complete cycle, period and all. I was going to write this update as soon as I’d had my first period but I thought what would be best would be to track one full cycle, so I can tell you about cravings, pain etc all in one go. As I’m writing this article I’ve just began my second ever period in 5 years, so lets get into it shall we? Obvious disclaimer for people who don’t wanna hear about the lining of a womb removing itself in a serious of blood clots, discharge and other disgustingly natural ways that come with having the female reproductive system.
To keep on track with my periods, the day after coming off the pill I downloaded an app called ‘Clue’. It is really handy and as somebody who never tracked their periods, way back when, it is actually quite useful and allows you to track so much more than just your bleeding. I officially came off the mini pill February 24th 2017 and had my first period March 31st, which meant there was an exact 5 week wait between coming off and bleeding. Of course this can vary from woman to woman, I’ve heard of some ladies not bleeding for up to 12 weeks after coming off the pill, so just listen to your body. I never tracked any symptoms on the app until I started bleeding, but I did notice a good week and a half beforehand I was experiencing tender breasts and a day or so before coming on I was insanely bloated.
Now the first period itself. A brief history of my periods, in high school of course you’re going through puberty so your hormones are going insane but I used to have strictly heavy periods for 7 days. No ifs or buts, every time it would last that long at that intensity. I only began to get a regular period in my final year of high school and I varied with feelings of nausea, bloating and cramps. This time around though things have changed SO much! Again this could change during this current cycle, but I’m going to break everything down into 3 sections.
Day 1 & 2
Mother nature has heard through the grapevine that I’ve abandoned my contraceptive pill just over a month ago and has decided to reign down the terror of a menstruation blood in the middle of a very busy news day at university. That’s right, not the most convenient of timings. I was in fact having a conversation with one of my best friends who was our radio presenter at the time, before going live on air about how much my boobs hurt, how bloated I was and the fact I felt quite nauseous. About 2 minutes later, we’ve done the news bulletin, I decide to go for a quick wee then lo and behold day one had begun and it was heavy. Day 2 followed suit and was also heavy, during both days I was on as much anti inflammatory medicine as I could find. I felt like I had an inflatable band around my stomach and hips from bloating, tender breasts, cramps, gassy, nausea and craving mainly salty foods. I also very glamorously started to become constipated (oh joy!) which I kid you not sometimes became more frustrating than the cramps.
Day 3 & 4
We now entered what I considered to be the more ‘medium flow’ days, I was just bleeding quite a lot but no where as near as days 1 and 2. By this point whenever I was in my house I’d have a hot water bottle more or less surgically sewn to my stomach or back. At one point, I was waddling around Asda looking for peppermint tea, cradling my inflamed stomach that resembled someone 3 months pregnant. Periods really bring out the most flattering sides to us ladies, I swear. Compared to being full on energy during day 1 & 2, I became absolutely exhausted was constipated for the second day (it passed by day 4) and was now craving carbs on top of salty snacks. The cramps and bloating were still there, but I could finally touch my boobs without wanting to cry, which is always a plus.
You wouldn’t believe how relieved I was to realise my periods only last 5 days now instead of 7, singing from the roof tops after day 5! The final day was noticeably a lot lighter than the whole period, my energy levels went back up to high, the bloating had gone down, no constipation and I was only cravings carbs.
Fertile Phase & Ovulation
Now this is where the interesting part comes into play. The app ‘Clue’ also predicts your fertility window and when you’re ovulating! Of course this is extremely helpful for those planning on conceiving a child, or those of us, like me who are fascinated by everything going on considering it hasn’t happened for the last quarter of my life. So the way it works, on average a couple days after your period will go into her fertile phase for 3 days, then bam on day 4 you are at your most fertile and then on day 5 you begin to ovulate (when the egg is released) then you have one more day which is the end of your fertile phase. During this time I had no pain or anything, but then long behold the exact day after my fertile phase had ended the tender breasts returned for a whole 9 days. Now the reason I knew I was ready for another period, besides the app prediction was because just before I bled last time my breasts were still sore BUT the pain had reduced. They say you know your body best and boy was I right because yesterday they started to flare up again, along with bloating, gas, exhaustion and not so fun regular toilet trips and ta-da the period has started again.
So there we have it, one cycle down and many more to go. The next time I’ll be doing a period related updated will most likely be in July as that will be 3 months of full cycles, then after that another 3 months down the line. At the point hopefully there will be more recognisable patterns with coming off the pill and my body will be working like clockwork.
If you’re thinking of or already have come off the pill, there are loads of online resources that you can read and videos on Youtube about peoples experiences etc. But the most important, if you have any doubts or concerns after coming off a contraceptive pill, don’t be afraid to make a quick doctors appointment to discuss it because at the end of the day it is their job to keep you well informed and assured that everything your body is or isn’t doing, is normal.