Want Better Option Than Pill—But it is all I am offered

Question

My name is Jourdan and I am 18, never sexually active, and with no history of breast cancer or cervical cancer in my family (I don’t think).
Ever since I started my period at 13 I’ve had really heavy periods with lots of almost unbearable cramps for the first two or three days of my period. Ever since I started, they have lasted between seven and nine days. So they’ve never really been all that great. But recently they’ve been absolutely horrible. For my last four cycles I’ve only had a week and a half, sometimes less, in between periods and they have each lasted 12-13 days! I’ve also been cramping severely even when I’m not on my period, to the point where I have to take the day off and lay in my bed with my rice bag & take muscle relaxants and ibuprofin to keep me comfortable. My skin has gotten worse, I’ve been feeling really tired, it’s just horrible.

So I went to my first gynecologist a few weeks ago and she scribbled out a script for the pill and did some blood testing. Apparently I’m severely anemic and need to take iron like twice a day, had a low blood count from losing all that blood all the time, and my thyroid was low. I started the pill four days ago, but I don’t really like the way it makes me feel. I get morning sickness symptoms and just feel down and out most of the time. In two days I’m going to get an ultrasound done to see if it’s something more serious like endometriosis or something… hopefully it’s not! My mother had to get a hysterectomy for fibroids, I do know that.

So is there any natural method I can try out to see if I can get this period thing under control? I feel like the pill is my only option, but I don’t really like that option. If I’m not on it my periods will be horrible, and I will be losing too much blood and being as anemic as I am, that’s not healthy for me and makes me super tired. What else can I do?

And ps. I am a Christian, so don’t worry about preaching abstinence to me or anything 🙂

Any answers or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks,

Jourdan

Answer

Dear Jourdan,

It’s a delight to hear an 18 year old seeking a natural solution to heavy, painful periods. If your thyroid is low, that may be much of the answer, and your periods may settle down once the thyroid gets regulated. It’s also great that you’re getting an ultrasound to look for other causes.

A terrific way for you to help understand your body at a higher level is to take a natural family planning course. Many women who are not sexually active chart their cycles just for the health benefits of knowing their body so well. With good documentation of your signs, blood tests can be ordered to look at the different phases of your cycle to see if there are other hormones low besides your thyroid.

Replacing other low hormones, like estrogen or progesterone will also help regulate your cycle in a natural way and make you feel better. The other nice advantage of charting, is that you will be able to predict when your menses is about to occur. Sometimes starting medications like ibuprofen the day or two before your period starts will help decrease the pain and amount of bleeding. Taking Vitamin E and thiamine (vitamin B1) on the two days before your cycle until about day three of your period can also help cut down the cramping. Some women are helped by adding magnesium supplements just before their menses.

If your cycles don’t smooth out soon, your doctor may look for other causes, as sometimes young women with heavy menses have a bleeding disorder, diabetes or an autoimmune disorder. The knowledge you will gain from learning about your cycles through an NFP course now will help you track the progress you are making, and can help your doctor see your pattern as well. In addition to helping right now, the knowledge you gain will help you for years, as you will have a tool that reflects the health of your body, as well as the power to know your days of fertility for when you are married. Look on our web site for teachers and doctors in California, many of whom teach remotely, if you are out of California.

I hope you take this opportunity to learn a lifetime skill, – and I hope you grab a few friends to take with you!

I wish you well!

Dr. Lynn Keenan

Answered By:

Lynn Keenan, MD
Lynn Keenan, MD, Immediate Past President of the CANFP Executive Board, is a Clinical Professor at the UCSF/Fresno Internal Medicine Residency Program (now retired), Board Certified in Sleep and Internal Medicine, and Vice President of the International Institute for Restorative Reproductive Medicine. She earned her BSN at UCLA, her MD at Temple University School of Medicine, and completed her Residency in Internal Medicine at UCSF/Fresno. Dr. Keenan served on the Executive Board of CANFP since 2004, as President of CANFP since 2010, and graciously agreed to continue her service to CANFP on the Advisory Board at the beginning of 2019, upon her retirement from the Executive Board of CANFP

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