Saturday, July 9, 2011

Personal Issues and Health-Related Things

Note: In this post I'm talking about some female stuff like birth control, periods, etc, and some personal issues I've been having so if you don't want to read about that stuff then this is your warning. :o)

There are some things that have been on my mind lately and things that I've been having to deal with. This post is just kind of my way to get it off my chest.

I've been on the Depo-Provera birth control shot since I was 17. I'm now 28 and I'll be 29 later this year. There have been some studies that have come out in the past few years showing that long-term use of Depo can weaken bones and in the very long run, lead to osteoporosis. I think I read somewhere that one shouldn't be on Depo for more than 5-8 years and I'm on my 11th. I've been kind of stubborn about finding a different birth control method because I really, really enjoy not having my period. I don't like having to deal with it and everything that comes with it and so I've been choosing to opt out, but I'm now at the point where I really can't do that anymore. I don't want to screw up my body in the long run and I have also been thinking for about the past year or so that I don't like having fake hormones in my body. Is it hypocritical of me to eat organically and try to take care of what goes into my body, only to get shot up with chemicals every three months?

Jonathan and I have been talking. We have known since we got together that we do not want children. Since I need to get off the Depo anyway, we've been talking about going to the next step. He would get a vasectomy and I would get off birth control. This means I would need to figure out how to manage my period. As it's been over a decade since I've had it, I'm not looking forward to this. I feel like so many of my friends and ladies online are in the, "Ohhh, I don't like having my period but it makes me feel like a woman!" mindset and that's so not me. I don't want it. But I will now be having to deal with it and there are so many options out there that it's kind of overwhelming. I have never used a tampon. At (probably) 29, I will have to learn how to use one. The DivaCup is weird to me. Using pads was the only method I was doing when I had my period initially and that was a pain in the butt. So what's a girl to do?

I am really looking forward to being able to do a yearly cleanse, something that I feel is important but have never done because I couldn't afford to possibly have the Depo out of my system. I also need to get back into taking vitamins. I know I am not getting as well-balanced diet as I should, so I want a little bit of nutrient back-up since I know that's not happening. I went to Rain Country Nutrition yesterday and picked up some vitamins and thought I'd share them with you. I talked to Margie, one of the owners, for quite awhile yesterday and feel pretty good about what I got. I also managed to take all of my vitamins yesterday and didn't get what is affectionately called "Barf Tum" in our household, and is the feeling I usually get when I take certain vitamins together, a feeling that causes stomach cramps and sometimes vomiting. Not so great.

Image from Amazon.

The Raw One vitamins are a raw food dietary supplement, meaning there are no crazy fillers and the ingredient list is basically berry powder, brewer's yeast, and the supplements. I got some of the powder on my fingers last night while I was taking the vitamin and it was pleasant tasting and not gross.

Image from Swanson Vitamins.

I got this bottle of liquid calcium and magnesium. (Or something similar to it. The label isn't exactly the same, so it might be a little different than what I got but it looks about right.) I like that it comes in a recyclable glass bottle. I was hesitant about the orange flavor because I thought it might be kind of gross and fakey, but it's really good!

 Image from iHerb.

I bought these vitamin D drops, which is enough for almost six months of vitamins. I now drop these into my calcium juice and shoot it back. Disclaimer: I don't use sunscreen. I know everyone knows that sunscreen is good, yes, but I have talked to several people in the health field and they have said they don't wear sunscreen usually because they work inside all day and the amount of sunlight they get going to and from work is almost negligible. If they are going to be outside for a longer period of time they'll put sunscreen on, but we all know that our bodies make their own vitamin D, but if we're totally covered in sunscreen, we can't. I'm not speaking for the whole population, obviously. If I lived in Arizona I would do something different, but I live in Alaska and NW Oregon. I am still pretty sure I am D deficient, so I'm taking the drops. Doing what I'm doing may not work for you, but it works well for me.

I do plan on buying this sunscreen for the days I go kayaking because being out on the water is like a giant mirror, reflecting sun rays directly onto you. I sometimes forget to put sunscreen on before I go and then regret it later because I got sunburned. Ouch!

Anyway, thanks for listening. This is kind of a random post but I haven't felt like there have been good times lately to talk with girl friends about it, but it's kind of a big deal in my life. Just kinda wanted to get it out there and if anyone has any input on anything I've mentioned I'd like to hear it.


  1. Vasectomy, yes. It's been a year and a half for us, and I am a much saner person without the pill. Periods are stupid, yes. But you can always hope for early menopause. :) Also, with some time off the hormones, your body will even out - the periods are more managible then when we remember.

  2. Thank you so much for commenting! You are making me feel much better! I feel like I don't know anyone else going through this and it just feels kinda lonely, you know? Most of my friends are either on birth control or trying to have/having children and so no one really has seemed to "get" it, although I do appreciate that they listen. I do hope the periods are manageable. It's the managing I'm not looking forward to. I want to do something that doesn't produce waste, so the DivaCup makes sense, but then I really don't "want" to do that and want to figure out tampons.

    The other part of me thinks I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but I don't think that figuring out babies and baby-making (or the lack there-of) is something insignificant. This is all just definitely something big that I've never had to deal with in life.

    And I totally love the people who are like, "Maybe later in life you will want kids and what then?" like this isn't something I've thought really, really hard about and they don't know my family/life/etc history. (There is always adoption, people.)

    Thank you for listening to my stream of thought about what has been going on in my head. Just kind of a lot of questions that won't get answered for awhile and new decisions that are officially official!

  3. Nope, I totally understand this! I've been on the pill since I was 16, so almost 11 years now. My boyfriend Davis and I have been talking about going off it too... I think it seriously messes with my sex drive, and I'm really bad about taking it. We're always careful to use backups if I forget, but I worry about the effect that these peaks and dips in estrogen levels are having on my body. I'm probably going to quit it in September - I just started a new temp job working outdoors so I'd really like to be able to skip periods until school starts again. But, we do probably want kids in a few years, so I'm not sure what I'm going to switch to. A good friend of mine uses an IUD, so I'll probably ask her opinion on that when she comes to visit me in a few weeks. In any case, you're definitely not making a big deal out of nothing! I think you're being responsible and conscientious and there'd be a lot less unwanted kids and unhealthy people out there if people gave this as much thought as you did.

    Coincidentally, I was looking at the Diva cup today too... it seems pretty ick, but I'm actually considering it. We'll see... :)

  4. I am with you both on the diva cup - I've looked into it, but am wary ("dishwasher safe"?!?) but I still think about attempting to figure it out. If nothing else, for the sake of traveling.

    Tampons you'll get used to. They're really much more comfortable and convenient than pads, though at first you should have a back up - your body adjusting is going to do some wacky things. They make organic non-bleached ones and whatnot, so you at least have options. And though this may be the line to cross, I do recommend applicators until you get used to the idea/location. Sorry if that was weird.

    It took me 6 mos to even out, but I'm actually more regular off the pill than I was on it.

    Victoria, going off the pill really made me notice how much my sex drive was affected by it! They don't tell you that side effect, but when I looked in to it later apparently a waning drive is common! It took a couple months, but it was a huge difference.

    And serious, I really wish that it wasn't just we folk who choose not to procreate who put this much thought into it. It really is insulting for people to assume you'll regret not having kids. I'm glad I'm not alone in this stance!

    I understand how lonely it is to go through this. I hope it's not as bad as you are afraid of! It will get better, and when we're 35 they won't fight us on getting "fixed" ourselves! :)

  5. Woo, thank you for the dialogue, ladies!

    As much as I really want to like the DivaCup I just am like, "UUuuuhhhhgggg" about it. Glad to hear I am not alone in my thinking, because I think us few ladies temper out my friends who use it and love it!

    Jenny, yes! I am totally going to do organic tampons. The thought of putting anything but the best for my lady parts in such a highly sensitive area is so important to me! I have seen a couple organic tampon articles around the web lately and it seems like my first choice, although I feel like it's creating waste. This is my whole wanting to be totally gung-ho about reducing my waste, but then there is the dishwasher safe Diva Cup. ;o) So are you saying you had a waning sex drive after you went off the pill? This is good info to know, just as a head's up. Thanks! And, noooo, thank you for the tampon info! I literally have no clue how to do this. Zero. I tried it once when I was, what, thirteen or something and, well, couldn't figure it out and so was just like, "Whatever! Pads are easy and I don't have to stick anything in me!" I don't think my friends and I ever talked about having periods until our twenties. I grew up in a private Christian school and that would be pretty much taboo, I'm pretty sure. I am seriously going to be Googling how to do this later and there may be tears. I may need practice runs. (I am so sorry if the line was crossed somewhere in those last two sentences! :o)

    Victoria, you are totally in the same boat as me! It is seriously so refreshing to hear from someone like you. THANK YOU!! From just the comments on this post I am feeling so much better about what I've been thinking about and the decisions we've made in our little family. And if you do the DivaCup then I expect a full report on it... ;o)

    Basically, I am 100% fine being the "cool aunt" for my friends' kids. I consider myself that for a few now and take my responsibility seriously! ;o)

  6. About the sex drive, no, being on the pill killed it. I was on it for like 14 years and apparently at about 8-10 years it's a common side effect of being on the pill. It came back shortly after I went off.

    Um... don't do practice runs with the tampons unless you um... make sure you have enough lubrication of some sort. It is really really uncomfortable to take out a dry one, and you don't want to wear it for very long if you don't need it!!! Note: if you did it right, you will not feel it at all. Also note: applicator does not stay with you while wearing. I learned this the hard way at 11. It scared me off for years! :)

  7. Can I just tell you that you are my hero for answering my questions and thoughtful ramblings? :oD

    You know, I wonder if the Depo is the same as the pill for sex drive because mine is definitely less than it used to be. (I just did a quick Google and apparently it's a common side effect. Maybe it just took longer for mine to happen?)

    I know I probably shouldn't be giggling about your applicator story but ouch! Aaagh! Gah! I can only imagine...owieeee.

  8. If my period would cheerfully disappear, I'd be delighted and still feel very feminine! Having cramps, mood swings, fatigue, and a mess each month just makes me aggravated. Ick! I empathize with you.

    As far as birth control goes, I tried about five types of pills and they all made me uncontrollably weepy (which, let me tell you, is 100% effective birth control). The NuvaRing worked decently with minimal side effects for me but, finally, I got my tubes tied (the dr was going to be rooting around in there to remove an ovarian cyst so I figured might as well get everything done at the same time) which has been an enormous relief. I've known I didn't want to be a mother to anything but critters since I was in elementary school and, thankfully, my husband is on the same page.

    As far as period maintenance goes, I'm still skittish about tampons (and I'm 37). I use organic cotton pads since brands like Always and Kotex give me an unappealing allergic reaction/rash (TMI, sorry!). Have you considered making your own reusable pads? There are several places online where you can buy pre-made bundles of them- initially, they're not cheap but I think they're probably a decent investment and certainly eco-friendly. I've been too lazy to make my own so far but it's on my To Do list. Oh, and I did try the Diva Cup- it wasn't uncomfortable at all and did serve it's purpose but, for me, it wasn't convenient using it in public restrooms- I'd want to wash it out before reinsertion (I assume that's necessary and not just my OCD kicking in) and that seemed a little weird to be doing with a stranger at the sink next to me, you know?

    Anyhow, good luck! And good decision re: vitamin D! I live in LA and still manage to be D deficient!!

  9. Since you haven't had a period for so long, definitely pay close attention to your body in the months after going off the shot. I got a copper IUD a few years ago because I wanted to stop putting artificial hormones into my body. At first, I loved it. Then, it became clear that I had had a previously undiagnosed hormone deficiency that hadn't been noticed before because I had been on the pill for so long. I turned into a monster of mood swings (and other delightful nonsense that I'd be happy to tell you all about by email if you're curious), and had to to back on the pill. Mine's an extreme case, but definitely something to be aware of as you're detoxing. (And, for the record, I love my diva cup!) Good luck taking your next steps!

  10. Amanda, yes, I've thought about making my own pads, but I kinda am curious to try tampons. I do think I will look more into making the pads, though. Thank you!

    Haley, wow, good to know! Thank you! (And I am glad you love your Diva Cup! My friends that like it REALLY like it. I wish it would work for me, but mentally the idea is just too out there for me.)

  11. Oh my god, I laughed out loud so many time while reading this post and the comments! I was going to e-mail you my input cause I feel weird sharing about this in public but WHATEVER, you other lovely ladies are :)

    My input - I tried the Diva Cup but had serious issues getting it back out. Real awkward and unpleasant. So that was the end of that. I use regular tampons right now and organic cotton panty liners as backup (I think it is safer to have a small back-up :) I'm sorry, I find it cute and so funny that this is SO NEW to you! LOVE YOU!). The other ones really irritate me down there now. I've ordered two soft cotton (washable) pantyliners from Etsy... I'll let you know how that goes if I remember & you want to know :)

    I want to have kids but that does not make this issue any easier! Harder I think if anything (can't just get things tied up). I don't want to keep taking hormones, and have had issues with the pill, but have not heard awesome things about getting an IUD :( Condoms disagree with me, and, well, there aren't many other realistic options. BOO. I thought they were going to have the man pill by now? It's time to trade!