I hate my uterus. In my opinion, there wasn’t much to love to begin with, but in the past few years I’ve grown out of neutrality into disdain and hatred. With exercise absolved from my lifestyle, my menstruation cycle took a turn for the worse, and here’s my story… dun dun.
A little bit of a late bloomer, I got my first period right at the beginning of eighth grade. At this point in my life, I was a good little dancer that spent 10 hours in the studio a week; each year I moved up levels and tacked on more hours. As you can probably guess, this amount of exercise was enough to keep my menstruation in check. Adding the stress that I often felt at that age, my periods were virtually painless and spread out, occurring only every 35-40ish days with a few entirely skipped.
I didn’t even experience a single cramp until my sophomore year of high school. It turned out that the culprit of my pain was my Calvin Klein underwear; their thick elastic bands were applying too much pressure to my abdomen. Once I had that figured out, not another cramp plagued me until I reduced my hours at dance, and they weren’t even that bad, until I quit once and for all.
When I went away to college is when the beginning of the end fell upon me. Even with the constant walking across campus and back up the hill to Merrill, each period slightly worsened while still manageable. Second year was where the real torture began.
The increments in which my periods became more painful and concerning increased by a lot during that year. Fall 2019 and Winter 2020 were less of a quick decline and rather best described as falling off a cliff, perhaps West Cliff for imagery’s sake.
Every 30 days, as my cycle had shortened, I found myself both mad at my boyfriend yet needing his constant attention while writhing with pain throughout my entire pelvis, not just the uterus. My light flow had turned medium, which really isn’t that bad compared to what others experience, but that change still scared me nonetheless. Additionally, pressure on my bladder made it so I couldn’t go very long between bathroom breaks.
The day I finally realized that something was really wrong and I needed help was in April of 2020. Yes, right after the world shut down and my community dissolved, I was stuck in the dorms having the (at the time) worst period of my life, emotionally and physically.
My cramps and back pain were so bad that I shut my laptop in the middle of my live lecture, crawled back into bed, and only got out to use the restroom. My day consisted of scrolling through my TikTok for you page as a distraction while tears streamed down my face. Alternating between Tylenol and Advil did nothing, I was on my own.
Since pain relief medication had begun to fail me, it was time to take matters into my own hands. I researched birth control methods and came to the conclusion that the arm implant was what I wanted. I didn’t trust myself to take a pill every single day when I couldn’t even manage it with my multivitamins. A family member had a bad experience with the copper IUD which prejudiced me against the hormonal types as well. I didn’t even consider the patch or shot, they just seemed silly and an awkward in between of short and long term solutions.
I knew the side effects of Nexplanon; my goal was to reduce or stop my period but I was aware that bleeding could become more frequent. While the other possible side effects were already my menstrual symptoms, I also acknowledged the possibility of weight gain. What I was NOT prepared for was waking up the next morning to stretch marks covering my breasts, hips, and thighs.
It truly felt as if I had gained ten pounds over night and I was then covered in purple stripes. I’m serious, my boobs looked like this: (🎆) (🎆).
That weight was real, too. I still have it, strapped to me, even though through many lotions and oils, my stretch marks have faded. I also did end up spotting in between periods with minimal reduction in my cramp pain levels. Only when I got the implant removed a year later did I realize how negatively it was affecting me emotionally.
In the days that came after I walked out of the Planned Parenthood, free of the plastic stick I’d been carrying in my arm, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. It’s hard for me to pinpoint the difference in my mind, much less put it into words, however, there is a noticeable difference to me which indicates that Nexplanon had it out for me.
It was actually quite devastating for me that Nexplanon wasn’t my answer. I logically knew that most people have to try many birth control methods before finding the right one, yet I was disappointed in my decision making skills. I look back on that experience and feel disappointed in my doctor as well.
I’m sure she had good intentions in letting me make decisions and advocate for what I wanted, however, I find myself resentful that she did not listen to my range of menstrual symptoms and stop me given how similar they are to Nexplanon’s side effects. She made no effort to make a recommendation on what they thought would better be able to help me. On top of that, while I had researched side effects, the doctor seriously downplayed them stating that it would take only 3 months to adjust to the hormones and then the side effects should “go away” and I believed her.
In truth, my doctor did not do her job. She should have tried to give me the best care that she could, but I was only 20 years old and out of my depth with no medical degree to hold on to. It is too much re
It wasn’t until Tiktok and Reddit decided to invade my privacy, for which I am grateful, and push Nexplanon content my way. It was through validation that many other people out there had realized this birth control was not for them that I was able to reconcile with the fact that I had been wrong, and it was not for me either.
While there are a plethora of uterus-owners out there who definitely understand the trials and tribulations of birth control methods, I don’t really know anyone who gets it when it comes to the severity of my period. The few people, it may just be one person, who do get it, might not have experienced the complete shock of devolving down from light, short, and pain free periods to anything but.
And that is why I’m writing this. My hopes are two-fold. First, I would like to educate others on menstrual issues and other things such as pelvic exams, pap-smears, and ultrasounds (yes, all of that is coming to you soon). Second, I would like to help someone out there not feel alone in a struggle that is usually quite private due to our patriarchal society’s taboo on anything to do with periods.
Follow along with me as I conduct an investigation into the medical mystery that is my torturous uterus…Period.