Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Meet Daysy

In my last post about coming off hormonal birth control I mentioned that I might do a follow up post about what I am doing regarding contraception now. Well, here it is - meet Daysy!

"What on earth is that?!", you might be thinking - and I don't blame you, as a few months ago I would have thought the same myself! This little gadget is a fertility monitor that you use every morning to take your temperature, and it then shows your current fertility status. Your basal body temperature rises slighty after you ovulate, so after using Daysy for a few months she will have an accurate knowledge of your cycle, and based on your temperature in the morning she will then give you either a green light (meaning you are infertile) or a red light (meaning that you are fertile) for that day. She might also give you a yellow light, which means she is either still learning about your cycle (I am getting all yellow lights at the minute) or there has been an unexpected temperature fluctuation, so you should abstain or use a barrier method. Of course, if you are planning to get pregnant then the Daysy is also a very useful tool for that, too!

If you are a natural sceptic like me, you may be wondering just how accurate this will be. Basically, it is a high-tech version of the Fertility Awareness Method (NOT the same as the Rhythm Method!) in which you chart your basal body temperature, plus other signs such as cervical fluid, to gauge your fertile window. However Daysy does your temperature charting for you; there is also a DaysyView app you can download for your mobile and you can sync your device with that. According to the Daysy website, it is 99.3% accurate. This is around the same rate as the pill and the implant, which are both 99% effective, if used correctly in the case of the pill. 

I will report back with my thoughts and findings about Daysy in a few months, after I have had a few cycles of use. If it is something you might be interested in, I highly recommend doing plenty of research, like I did, and reading a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler which should, quite frankly, be a must read for anyone with a uterus! At the end of the day it's your body and you have to do what you're happy with. Right now for me, that is being as free from artificial hormones and chemicals as possible!

Have you tried FAM or a fertility monitor before, or is it something you would consider?

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Quitting Hormonal Birth Control - My Experience

Well, that's a rather serious blog post title! With what people might consider rather serious implications; however all is not as it seems - I am not trying to get pregnant, nor do I plan on it any time soon! I just thought I would share my story as it is something I have been very interested in lately.

Since around November I seem to have went rather 'hippie' with my approach to health and my body. It all started when I went vegetarian last March - since then I have been constantly educating myself about food and nutrition and believe that food is one of the best medicines we can use. I watch a lot of videos on veganism as, while I am not vegan, I do try and eat very little dairy etc and like to get meal ideas. While watching various videos by vegan YouTubers I stumbled across videos about hormonal birth control and why many vegans don't use it. Apart from the fact that many versions of the birth control pill contain dairy, putting artificial hormones in to your body can have so many negative side effects. It wasn't until I started watching these videos and then doing my own research that it really clicked with me how many of the symptoms I had. Some symptoms I had always attributed to my thyroid, but perhaps birth control was also having an affect too? I decided I wasn't going to use artificial hormones any more and that I would let my body get back to its normal, natural state of being.

I started taking the pill when I was around 17. Scarily enough, I took the pill in various forms for ten years - a decade! At which point I thought "Why am I taking a pill very day when I could get the implant and not worry about it?" so in September 2014 off I went to the doctor and had the Nexplanon implant inserted in to my arm. I really didn't give it too much consideration; I just thought it would be more convenient than taking a pill daily, plus the implant lasts for 3 years. Yet once I did my research I realised that the implant was affecting me much more than I thought. My main issues with it were:
  • Weight gain: (around a stone over the 16 months I had it)
  • Hair loss; (I have naturally thin hair but was losing loads)
  • Irregular periods;
  • Loss of libido; (TMI but a harsh reality - so many people complain of the same thing!)
  • Depressed mood;
  • Mood swings. (I was not fun to deal with! Apologies to my fiancé!)
I suppose as a contraceptive it was highly effective; you're definitely not going to get pregnant if you (a) have gained weight and feel self-conscious and crap, and (b) can't stand your partner touching you! I was a total nightmare. My moods were all over the place and at the time I couldn't understand why. I have always been a laid back person who enjoyed a good laugh but I felt like I was going slowly insane; being constantly grumpy and easily irritated, always putting on a show for others to make it look like I was ok... it wasn't me at all. 

I even went to the doctor several times about the low libido - I assumed it was due to my thyroid as that can affect sex drive. The first time my thyroid medication dosage was increased, with very little effect. A second visit resulted in a full blood test and hormone profile, which came back normal. A third visit resulted in a physical exam (which was normal) and talk of being referred to gynaecology and perhaps a therapist in case my issues were psychological! Honestly! Not once was it suggested that the implant might be to blame. And as for the irregular periods.... at first I went months without having any, then had one that lasted a fortnight, and after that they arrived whenever they felt like it! The last straw was in December - I had a period early in the month which was fairly light and lasted about 4 days so I thought that was me for a while, but no! Two weeks later I was in work one morning when I got the most horrific cramps - I just wanted to double over except I was in a meeting and had to grin and bear it. My period was back again, heavier than ever, and I had absolutely no provisions with me in work to deal with it. 

I had well and truly had enough and saw the doctor about having it removed. I got my implant taken out on the 12th January and already the difference is amazing. My cycle seems to have returned back to normal fairly quickly which is reassuring. I started what was either a period or a withdrawal bleed 2 days after the removal, and then I began tracking my cycle using the app Clue, which was very useful. I used cheap ovulation tests every day until I got a positive result on 6th February. I am definitely not wanting children any time soon, if at all, but it was still a relief to see a positive test and know that my body was doing what it should! I have minimal scarring from the implant, just a small red mark that I'm hoping will fade in colour over time.

Scar from implant removal - 8 days post removal
I may write future posts about what I am doing regarding contraception now that I am free from hormonal birth control, but so far I am very happy to be hormone free! My mood has improved dramatically which I am pleased about - I am more like my laid back self and much less grumpy. (Interestingly, my doctor said that the implant shouldn't cause mood swings as it is progesterone, however my own research uncovered forum threads about Nexplanon and so many women said it made them moody and grumpy and killed their libido, so I am not the only one!) I've noticed less hair loss, and libido seems to be on the right track too. My weight hasn't changed yet but I am starting back to the gym this week which will help; it is hard to shift weight with an under-active thyroid anyway! If you think that your birth control might be causing you any issues, perhaps have a think about what it might be doing to your body and consider what is best for you and your health!

I hope this has been in some way informative - let me know if you have experienced anything similar as I would be very interested in hearing other ladies' stories! 

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Well I guess this is growing up...

Every time I return to this blog it's after a stupidly long break! However life has been very busy, and was pretty mad through 2015 so I feel I am finally finding some equilibrium, with a bit more free time which I could devote to writing again.

I have some topics in mind that I would like to write about, which are definitely more in the 'lifestyle' category so expect some of those coming up soon. In the meantime here is a bit of a catch up...

I briefly mentioned in a post last April that I had got engaged at Christmas 2014... well, the wedding is this year, August 2016, so there has been plenty of planning for that going on, and there is still more to come! I'm not sure if any of the planning process really warrants being documented right now, but perhaps I will afterwards when I can discuss things more!

I welcomed in 2015 in Phuket, Thailand, and also had two trips to Scotland and one trip to Westport, Co. Mayo. Would you believe that I had three different jobs in 2015?! I started the year in a civil service job that I really liked, however it was always a temporary contract that I knew was coming to an end mid-March that year. I then got a new job at the end of March in a large law firm, which sounded a lot more promising than it was in reality! It was a very long commute (55 miles each way) and after a failed car share arrangement and weeks of bus craziness, I finally got my first car out of sheer necessity! I love my wee Micra though, she has been a life saver!

I was only at the law firm for a few months when I realised that I simply could not keep it up for much longer. I was totally sleep deprived, had no home life worth speaking of and to be honest, I felt like my mental health was beginning to suffer, too. I spent a few months applying for every job under the sun and then at the end of September I got something that I had been looking for since I finished University in 2009... A PERMANENT JOB! It was a miracle! I am still so thankful for my new job every day. It is much closer to home, in a small company and they are the nicest people you could ever ask to work for.

I also became vegetarian last March and haven't looked back, and I further embraced my crazy cat lady tendencies by volunteering at a cattery most weekends, which is messy and smelly and heartbreaking and soul soothing all at once! It's not for everyone, but I really felt that I wanted to do something selfless, and I love animals (cats especially) so I stared volunteering in September. I go almost every Saturday morning unless I have something else on. It takes 2 or 3 hours and then I still have the rest of the day ahead of me.

So really, I am finally accepting the fact that I am twenty eight years old; undeniably an adult now and it is time to not only embrace this, but also to learn about  myself a bit more! So that is some of what this blog will reflect and my ramblings will focus on these days... I hope you stick around for a mixture of everything that is to come!