Do you ever look around at the friends in your life and realize you aren’t in the same place as them? The friends who are getting married. The friends who are having babies. Maybe even the friends who already have a few kids and are quite settled into life? I have all of those friends. They are all amazing, inspiring and I’m so grateful to have them in my life. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, I’m not them.
My path will never look like theirs. I may get married in 2 years or 10. I may want kids somewhere between now and then. And whatever that life looks like, I want to be able to have options. I love kids. I love my friends kids. Someday I’d really love to have my own. So why at the ripe old age of 28 with no indicator of marriage or kids on the horizon am I thinking about fertility? Because on that day I decide I want kids, I want to have the choice. And if I’ve learned anything from my friends hormone health*, it’s not as easy as it looks.
BIRTH CONTROL ISN’T ALWAYS THE SOLUTION
During my first month of college, I started to get irregular periods. Looking back now I’d say this was the first clue my hormone health was off. For the better part of the month, my period was starting and stopping with no predictability. After things slowed down enough for me to get to my hometown, I made my first trip to the obgyn. Of course, she put me on birth control and that was that.
I stayed on birth control for the majority of college. I don’t think I really want off until after I graduated, moved to Atlanta and just didn’t feel like transferring my prescription. Oh if it was only that simple. . . A few months later, I started to get horrible breakouts. I’d never experience acne like it before. So I did some digging, found an acne face map, learned I had hormonal acne and went back on birth control. Within a few months, the acne cleared up and I didn’t think twice about it.
But last fall everything kind of came crashing down at the same time. After several years of a diet that wasn’t balanced plus too many years of birth control, I needed to make a change. My body was desperately trying to communicate to me that my hormone health* was off. Between acne was popping up and other various symptoms, I knew I needed to face my problems head on. I didn’t want to stick a bandaid on my issues and decided it was time to get to the bottom of it. I went off birth control rather quickly and hoped for the best.
YOU CAN’T FIX A PROBLEM YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT
If I’m honest, I’ve never really thought twice about birth control. Sure, it’s great for helping with terrible periods, cramp and other issues. It gives women the ability to prevent unwanted pregnancies. On the outside, it seems like this miracle pill that solves a lot of problems. And it really does. But what about the ones you don’t know about?
Roughly 5 million women in the US have polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. (1) Here’s the kicker: less than 50 percent of them are properly diagnosed. And unless you’re incredibly proactive about your hormone health, you may never know. I’ve had more than one friend spend months trying to get pregnant. They went off birth control, started trying for kids and found themselves heartbroken every month when they got their period. Some of them had PCOS and never knew. But how would they when birth control pushed away the symptoms. Or what about the friends who don’t get their period? Your body gives you a great indicator of what’s going on with your hormone health monthly. And if you aren’t getting your period, it’s not necessarily a good thing. So how do you fix a problem you don’t even know you have?
LEARN TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
As a female, I think it’s safe to say I know my period isn’t like someone else’s. It’s hard to create a baseline when everyone’s bodies are so different. But that little monthly check in says more than you can imagine. I started using the My Flo app* earlier this year. I’ve used period tracking apps before but this one is different. You add in your symptoms whether that’s acne, cramps or something else and it helps you to know what’s going on with your body. My hormonal acne? It’s been telling me for months that I wasn’t properly flushing the extra estrogen out of body. Those pesky symptoms going on aren’t just there to frustrate you. They are trying to tell you that something isn’t right and maybe you should do something about it.
Getting To The Root Of The Problem
After months of speculation and wondering, I took a hormone test. I shared the entire process on Instagram and I’m chatting about it in today’s video. However, the most important thing is I finally got answers. Instead of guessing or wondering what I needed to do, I now know what the root of the problem is with my hormone health.
If I’ve learned anything from the countless stories I’ve heard over the years, it’s that treating the issues sooner vs later makes tons of difference. Sure I may just have hormonal acne now. But I really have hormonal acne because my hormones are off. At my age, I shouldn’t have to worry if healthy enough to be able to get pregnant and carry a child to term. Except I do. The acne is just a symptom of a bigger issue. Pretending it’s just a phase rather than an indicator of my hormone health will only cause me issues in the long run. And heaven forbid, this turns into that requires me to have my ovaries removed.
I Want Kids On My Terms
So I guess the question is, why do I care? Kids aren’t going to be happening in the next 3 years. So why does it matter? Because I want kids on my terms. Try as they might men can only understand so much. But women get it. I want the option to be able to carry my own child. Years of periods have to earn us something right?
And here’s the thing: I could change my mind. I’m allowed to do that. I might decide I want to adopt or skip having kids all together. There is no rule that says I can’t decide differently. Choosing to not having kids vs being told you can’t have them is completely different. I’ve never been a fan of being told I couldn’t do something. So I’m definitely not okay with being told what my body can or can’t do.
There Are Options
I always knew when I sat down to write this post, I’d probably rant a bit. Let’s just add hormone health to my soap box closet. Nevertheless, I think it’s important to address that birth control isn’t the only option. Don’t be afraid to do your research and ask questions. One of my favorite groups to be a part of is the Almost 30 Podcast Facebook group. It’s filled with amazing women who are taking charge of their health. Many have gone off bc, found alternative and will happily answer questions. Your body, your fertility and your hormone health are important. And nobody knows your body like you do.