I Have a Thyroid and Hormone Imbalance

So, some of you may have seen on my Instagram stories, but recently I had an occurrence that I feel many women have, but few talk about it or question it.

Being 26, this is my last year on my mother’s health insurance, and you bet that I’m fully taking advantage of that. I decided to get a full blood panel done, test my hormones (I’ve been hormonal birth control free for just over a year – blog post here on that) test my thyroid for good measure, and cortisol levels.

Well, was I in for a surprise.

Upon sitting down with my doctor, it was as if she had never looked over my results until that very moment. She said everything looked fine except my vitamin D was low, and that I could be on my way. I gave her a puzzled look and asked about all the extensive tests I elected to have done, and their results. At this point, she seemed rushed and said “OH, YES, well, seems here your thyroid is on the low end” and proceeded to write a prescription. I exclaimed that I did NOT want a script, and her response is something that will always stick with me, “If you’re not on medication now, you will be next year. Our genes control us, we don’t control them.” Mind you, I was on the low end of the range within normal limits, and she refused to work out a more natural course of treatment or supply options.

She also couldn’t comprehend the fact that I was a vegan, and kept going on and on that my thyroid might be off from the hotdogs and cold-cuts I eat, to which I laughed because I haven’t had any of those items in over fifteen years, and mentioned 5 times prior that I’m a vegan (she was suggesting fish oil, suggesting less red meat, all to which I’d have to repeat my strict diet over and over.) I took this alone as a clear sign of the current office I was at NOT being the place for me, and how can any doctor really pay attention when they have so little time for each patient? In that very moment I knew I no longer wanted to be beneath her care, and that I would be going elsewhere.

My concerns were completely dismissed, was told that I haven’t been practicing medicine for 40 years, my past use of hormonal birth control had nothing to do with my hormones being off, and people don’t have repercussions from previous medications for years to come.
Now, I know damn well even without ever having kids, that even after childbirth, hormones can take a while to return to homeostasis (hello post-partum.) I am beyond thrilled I listened to my intuition and denied medication, when I wasn’t even explained the proper list of potential side effects or even given the option to give this a go without a script.

I had this overwhelming urge to talk about my experience online, though I had tears in my eyes and was well defeated. I couldn’t believe the support and openness I received right back, and I am still so thankful and quite honestly still can’t believe how many people reached out to me. I had a synchronicity happening in my messages then too, a friend mentioned acupuncture being an option, and at the same moment, my close friend (who works at an acupuncturist’s office) said I should come in, as her doctor helped her with her own hormones.

I have been working more on trusting the universe, and letting go of control, and I saw the correlation, and took the soonest appointment.

Later that same day, after having a consultation at the Acupuncturists’, I felt like my doctor listened to me for the first time in my life.

I felt heard, accepted, and a sense of hope instead of just being thrown on medication and hoping for the best. Though it was just a consultation, we talked about a course of action for the time being involving different yoga poses, a small change in diet, and a new supplement to start before my first official visit the following week. He even took the time to make sure my supplements were vegan, and to give vegan recommendations on the diet portion, it all felt like a dream especially after what happened earlier that day.

As someone with a long history of anxiety, depression, autoimmune, migraines, severe allergies, and chronic pain from endometriosis, dissatisfying doctor visits are a reoccurring theme in my life.

At 26, to finally have a doctor say that my assumptions may be right, was amazing. I urge anyone having any issues at all, whether its chronic pain, mental health, autoimmune issues, anything really; please don’t just go off the recommendations of one doctor because that’s just what you’ve been conditioned to do.

If a doctor’s medication choice makes you uncomfortable, say something. If their course of treatment makes you uneasy, there is never anything wrong with getting a second opinion.

Personally, I would rather a more natural course of treatment be tried before having to go on medication, at the very least I could say “I tried”.

My acupuncturist said something very powerful that resonated so deep in my core about my hormones; “Picture your hormones going to work every day, and suddenly when they get there, their job is already done. Why would they keep going to work if they have no reason to be there?” I felt myself sit up straighter, finally having a sense of understanding for my body instead of feeling like a failure, and felt a deep sigh of relief.

The medical system failed me by blinding putting me on hormonal birth control at 14

Which I originally started because I had ocular migraines (plus many other ailments) during my time of the month, and was missing so much school from them. With each new birth control packet came more and more side effects (not to mention more severe mood swings, which I never realized until I was off it.) You would think they’d at least run a hormone panel to see if I had any imbalances while developing, but, instead I was just put on what was hot on the market, switched around from prescription to prescription, and for the following 13 years was told my symptoms are my bodies fault (AKA there was nothing I could do) or I was trying to get medication from my doctor for pain. When in fact, I was sick from the synthetic hormones I was putting into my body without any real explanation why, except that it would make my skin clear, even out my PMS, and stop the ovarian cysts. When in fact, since coming off the pill and switching to a menstrual cup (I say this because conventional tampons still make me cramp like crazy), my endometriosis pain has deeply subsided, and symptoms are less than half of what they used to be.

Of course, fixing my thyroid will probably change my cycle, but I’m at a place in my life where I no longer what to control my body, but give it everything it needs to run at an optimum level.

I’ve been apologizing to my body this year for the years of disordered eating, years of drug and alcohol abuse, and coming to a much better place of understanding, and quite honestly, I feel like even if my body doesn’t back to homeostasis on its own, my mind is reaping more benefits than ever expected.

Even during this time of struggle, I’m treating myself with love and respect, and I advise that you do the same in general if you’re not already. Take a moment today and be grateful for small things, and even more grateful for the bigger picture of being here in the first place.

Getting Off Hormonal Birth Control + Using a Menstrual Cup

So mid year, I got off hormonal birth control, which I had been on for close to thirteen years! I was told time and time again, that it would be the “solve all” to my ocular migraines caused by my time of the month, plus it was supposed to make my skin clear and healthy looking! I have endometriosis in my family, so that was something to consider, and my deciding factor on starting the pill at around 14 years old. I had switched to just about everything on the market, different hormone leveled pills, nuvaring, every birth control besides the implantation device (both arm and uterine) and hormonal shots because my medical history didn’t allow for either of those. The last pill I was on caused the worst side effects for me, and ultimately pushed me in the direction to stop it altogether. I was on a brand that allowed you to have three periods a year, which sounds fantastic, but holy side effects was I suffering. My migraines came back with a vengeance, my cramps made it so I couldn’t function in daily activities, I couldn’t keep any food down, and my mood swings were at the point to where I was thinking of going on yet more medication to keep those in control.

I was missing more work than ever, which is embarrassing because people who have no cycles, or normal ones just can’t understand that you’re truly not being a drama queen. Trust me, I wanted to go to work, I didn’t want to stay in bed in the dark with a heating pad on me keeling over in pain. While in conversation with my boyfriend, he asked “So, do they test your hormone levels to see what works best?” and I realized, no, they never did any extensive hormone testing for any of my birth controls, before or after new brands, or anything like that. You’d think playing with something so essential to our bodies would be more carefully regulated, but hey, it is woman’s health care and all.

Once stopping HBC, I noticed a huge difference by my second cycle. Keep in mind, I’m one of the lucky few to have a regulated cycle after stopping this medication. Many women wind up with not getting their period at all and suffering major hormone consequences that they weren’t warned about. Around the same time, I decided to get off the pill, I also concluded that I wanted to use a menstrual cup too, just to avoid any other unwanted chemicals lingering around in my body. The more research I did, the more that I found it was the right choice for me as compared to a natural brand of tampon. As if skipping out on bleach, chemicals, and who knows what else is in commercial tampons (because companies don’t have to disclose exactly what chemicals are in them, suspicious much?) If that doesn’t weird you out, it should, seriously. I don’t want to add to any conspiracies, but from what I’ve read, it’s quite alarming, and from the difference I’ve felt, I know a lot of the pain/heavy bleeding I was feeling was influenced by whatever was in commercial tampons.

Since making the switch, on a pain scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) I’ve been hanging out at a strong 6 on my very worst days, most of the time the pain doesn’t interfere with daily life, except when I have ruptured cysts, which is a whole other topic on its own! While on HBC, my heaviest days I’d hang out at a 9 or 10 in pain, all day. ALL DAY. Imagine not being able to even get out of bed, let alone work to make a living, or even have a social life during your time of the month. It was absolutely unbearable, and my only regret was waiting this long to get off it, it did its job though, so honestly, I can’t complain about that factor.

The cost difference just makes sense for me as well, plus they’re eco-friendly! Figure you spend about $10/month on your paper product of choice, factoring in at $120/year (and that’s assuming you don’t have to buy an extra box here or there.) Most menstrual cup products come in from 30-60 dollars, which I believe to be quite fair. I bought a Lunette cup which after doing some research seemed to be the best since; I have no kids and I have a pretty small lady area.

Lunette

I’ve found them ranging in price a lot, their website sells them for $39.99, but I got mine for $29.99 on Thrive Market (which I love, love, love using this site! Click here for 25% off your first order). I’m about to order a Ruby Cup (2 for $49.78) to keep as a back-up as well, because from the research I’ve done, seems to suit my body’s’ needs. If you’re not keen about shipping one to your house, or would rather an in-store purchase, I’ve seen cups even at Target & Walmart! I’ve noticed I’ve saved a substantial amount of money using this, and I feel great about not adding to all the waste that’s already being contributed on this planet. You can even donate on Ruby Cups website to help a girl in need of menstrual products, which I plan on doing for my next purchase.

To be clear, there is a huge learning curve! This isn’t something that you’re just going to get the hang of right away, and if you do, I hate you. I gave myself a time frame of 6 months (6 cycles) to really give it a go. I remember not freaking out anymore around month 4 or 5, so have hope, and lots of patience!  Keep in mind that keeping calm will help you in more ways than one, I had a panic attack after not being able to get it out during my first cycle of using, which is embarrassing to admit, but after I calmed down I laughed at myself for getting so anxious in the first place (it’s not like it’s going anywhere, having a mom in law enforcement, I’ve heard stories of ladies fitting a whole lot more than a soft silicone cup in there!) I also cut a few centimeters off the “tail” off the cup on my Lunette, be careful though when you adjust it and don’t get overzealous with the cutting, as it might make it super frustrating to retrieve if you cut before knowing how much actually needs to come off! Just make sure that your cup has the ability to be cut and altered, I know the Ruby Cup tail isn’t able to be modified.  I’ve seen people even turn them inside out to eliminate any irritation from the tail.

So, make sure to stay comfortable, and if one brand isn’t working for you, know that you can always switch, there’s so many to choose from! This is your body, and you need to honor and listen to its needs! I know making a switch like this can seem scary, or even gross (which it isn’t, and is far healthier for you!!) Reach out to some girlfriends! That’s what I did, and I got some well-taken advice from them, for some reason most women don’t talk about these sorts of things, so many of my friends already made the switch.

But, we can be the change, make this kind of conversation normal between your friend group! Remember to take care of yourself, especially during your time of the month, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest (and maybe a bit of some dark chocolate, shhh I won’t tell!!)