If you are the type of person that runs screaming from the room when a woman mentions her period, you might want to stop reading now. I admit it, I’m not a fan of those conversations either. I mean, just because we possess the same body parts does not mean I need to know the inner workings of your bodily functions. But sisters do have to take care of sisters, and sometimes these conversations are a necessity. I believe this is one of those cases.
I have never been one to suffer from PMS. Sure, I am no stranger to the mid cycle freak out, followed with a chocolate induced coma. But really that’s a normal Thursday for me. For the most part, my mood never seemed drastically affected by PMS- until the last year or so.
It took awhile for me to put the pieces together. For much of my adult life, I have received compliments on my skin. Prior to having my first child, my aunt told me “I hope he has your skin and Ben’s dimples.” Never plagued with acne as a teen, somewhere around 38 I started breaking out like a greasy middle schooler. Not just breaking out. Huge, nasty, painful zits. Like the ones you get on the side of your nose that make you cry when you pop them, only they were all over my face. Having spent most of the last four years either pregnant or breastfeeding, I attributed it to hormones. But Kellen is now coming up on three years old. At some point, the postpartum excuse stops working.
Then the meltdowns started happening. Again, mothers with young children are no strangers to the “for the love of god, just stop it” cry of desperation. But this was different. My husband would poke fun at me in some sarcastic way and I would bite his head off, usually saying something like “you don’t have to be a dick about it!” I’d storm off to my room, shut the door, and fume about whatever tiny transgression he had committed. The worst was when I lost it on one of my kids for doing something kids do, like one asking for a glass of milk after I had literally just sat down from getting the other one a glass of milk. Annoying yes . Worthy of gritting my teeth and shouting “I JUST CAME FROM THERE!” at a two year old- probably not.
Then of course the cycle itself. I won’t get into tons of details, but it was a LOT longer. Two to three days became six to seven.
It took awhile, but I began to see a pattern with my meltdowns, bad moods, and break outs. Same time of the month. But why was I getting PMS at 38 when I had not had it my entire life? At first, I wondered if I was going through early menopause. But after talking to relatives, that did not seem to be a pattern for our family, and my cycle is still regular.
Then I had the light bulb moment. My second child was born by c-section, and I chose to have a tubal ligation (tubes tied) since I knew I did not want any more children. I no longer needed to take birth control pills. I had been taking birth control pills for twenty years. DING!
I knew that birth control could be used to treat other conditions, such as acne (perhaps I wasn’t just blessed with clear skin). I guess I just didn’t realize how many other things it affected. I began talking to a few other mothers who had also had their tubes tied, were similar ages, and who were now off of birth control after prolonged use. Bingo- we all had similar symptoms.
The main reason I decided to write about this is because when I spoke with other moms, we all seemed to feel like we were the only ones who experienced this scenario. None of us had considered this change before opting for the tubal and permanently stopping birth control. I believe we all just thought “no more pills. Yeah!”
I decided to talk it over with my doctor. She said birth control can regulate all kinds of things: mood, PMS. It can even affect your metabolism. Her solution- go back on the pill.
I have not been on the pill long enough to see if it is relieving my symptoms. I’ll have to wait and see how it goes. But it was nice to have confirmation that I hadn’t just started losing my mind in my late thirties- hormones had been at play. That’s my story anyway and I’m sticking to it.
Ultimately, I would have still made the decision to have my tubes tied. But I wish I had more information on what it is like to come off the pill after spending half of my life on it. I love, love, love that I was able to chose when I was ready to have kids. But you can’t mess with Mother Nature and not expect there to be some drawback.