Saturday, January 15, 2011

The uterine revolution

My uterus is in revolt.  Cut off from its nice little happy relaxing progesterone it is now in the anger phase.  Like a heroin addict in withdrawals – it is pissy and in pain.

 I hate periods.  I had terrible gynecologists in my twenties.  Nobody would tell me what was going on with my stupidly irregular, seriously heavy periods.  Nobody would mention that maybe there was something wrong here they would just offer me birth control pills.

Thing was . . .why did I need birth control pills if I wasn’t needing control of birth?  It never made sense to me.  Maybe because every other college age girl was sleeping around they needed them, and yes they would regulate my cycles, but no doctor ever took the time to let on that I had a bigger problem.

So I would go months without a period, and when it would come I was certainly in for it.  The cramping, the hemorrhaging – it was terrible.  I remember driving a half hour to see my grandmother and in that time going through a tampon, pads, 2 pairs of undies, pants, the towel on the seat ultimately onto the car seat itself.  At this point I realized there was something very wrong, but like most people right out of college I was (gasp) uninsured.  I actually quit my job after college (because I hated it) and I was too tired to work.  I spent a month in bed.  Probably was excessively anemic – but didn’t know anything at that point in my life to realize what was going on.  In retrospect I was dumb and uneducated.

I’ll never forget the day I heard about pcos from a pamphlet I saw on the wall of a gynecology rotation I was doing.  It was what Oprah describes as the “ah ha” moment.  All of a sudden everything became crystal clear.  That hair on my chin – check.  The acne that plagued not only my teens but into adulthood – check.  My stupid menstrual cycles – check.  There I was, it was me in a nutshell so I got the ultrasound and . . . polycystic ovaries – final check.

I felt validated and betrayed.  I finally had a diagnosis but there was no reason I had to go though all those years of suffering to figure all this out.  But I now understood the reason to use birth control pills and why it made sense – so I started.

There has been no better personal discovery to date than my start oral contraceptives.  For me it was a magic pill.  My periods came on time, light without cramps.  My face back and chest cleared up and the hairiness became more manageable.  Finally, I was attractive, predictable and healthy.  I LOVED MY PILLS!

Now, I miss them - terribly.  My face frequently explodes, I have given up tank tops, I have invested in laser hair removal only to find that the areas are being re-stimulated.  But never do I miss them more than days like today.  Days where I am sitting with my heating pad on my lap and my Advil by my side.  I have never missed a day of work for cramps, but I can certainly relate with those that do.  I actually have “take my heating pad to work” days.  A few of my patients have nodded in recognition.  I wish everyone could have such an understanding work environment.

This is all small beans compared to the infertility of course.  If I could get a pregnancy out of it I would happily become a hairy acnefied beast of a woman that can’t get out of bed.  But it is always a little insulting for my period to show up. 

My uterus is the victim of spousal abuse at the hand of my ovaries.  The years of hormonal control by its previous birth control were happy times.  Productive, supportive and predictable.  My uterus was an empty but happy place.   But then with the removal of the pills the uterus fell back into its old habits of listening to my ovaries and now embarks in monthly turmoil.  Its turned on me and is screaming out “ha ha – I am empty and I am going to purge myself to make you suffer even more”.

One day maybe my uterus will find its purpose.  It will find a good temporary relationship with hormones that come from a placenta instead.  It will get what it needs to relax, grow and feel self fulfilled.  I look forward to the lack of bleeding for nine months.  I hope my uterus gains its independence and stops the revolution but for now the battle is raging on.

So for now . . . Advil.


  1. That's exactly how my doctors were too, like, "so you only have a period once or twice a year, what's so bad about that?" Um, what's normal about that? Blech, I hope you feel better soon.

  2. I fortunately got lucky and don't have the extreme bleeding and pain. But I do have a serious case of the "PCOS ugly" thanks to being off the pill. Sometimes I lie awake at night dreaming of the day that this is all over and I can pop that glorious BCP back in my mouth again...

  3. Oh, I am so sorry! I hope your uterus gets happy soon and also finds itself a useful job (like carrying a pregnancy).