I was 20 years old when I first went to the doctor to get birth control. I was engaged to be married and as far as I knew, getting on the pill was the necessary thing to do. I didn’t ask the doctor any questions and she didn’t ask me any questions. She just wrote me a prescription for the pill and sent me on my way. After six years of being on the pill, my intuition led me to stop taking them. I knew I didn’t want to be on hormonal birth control anymore, but I also knew I didn’t want to get pregnant.
I asked the doctor about other options and she told me the only option I had that didn’t use hormones (aside from barrier methods) was the copper IUD. She told me this device often increases period pain as well causes heavier bleeding. Though because I typically had lighter periods and minimal pain, I was a good candidate. I eventually decided to have one put in.
Having it put in was the single most painful experience of my life. And every period for the next two years were the most painful I had ever experienced in my life. My intuition led me again, to have it taken out. It was clear my body was screaming at me to have it removed. Still, I did not want to get pregnant and as a result, my anxiety increased significantly. I had a huge fear of getting pregnant and had very little confidence in the use of condoms for prevention, not to mention the fact that I just didn’t like them!
Fast forward a few years, I finally decided that I was ready to get pregnant. After living in fear and anxiety for so many years over the idea of getting pregnant, I learned that it isn’t necessarily as easy as I had always been told. After several cycles of unsuccessful attempts, I knew it was time to look a bit deeper. It was around this time that I was introduced to charting my menstrual cycles using Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). This information opened a door into a whole different world that I never knew existed regarding women’s health.
Through charting my menstrual cycles, I have learned so much about my body and my health. Information that I feel should be taught to every young girl, even before she starts bleeding. I have learned about what is happening to my body throughout the menstrual cycle and why it is important to allow our bodies to cycle naturally. I have learned about what hormonal contraception is doing to the body as well as the many side effects it can have. I have learned about the different signs and symptoms I can monitor to evaluate my overall health. I have learned how to prevent or achieve pregnancy using the same signs and symptoms. I have learned that a woman’s body goes through cyclical changes; which phase we are in heavily impacts how we interact with ourselves and the world around us. Most importantly, I have learned how vital all of this information is to embracing myself as a woman and discovering my intrinsic power.