Tuesday, March 25, 2008

When Aunt Flo(w) is a Nasty Houseguest

WARNING: This post has a lot of personal information about female cycles and forms of birth control. If that's just stuff you can't handle, please do not read! Seriously, I ain't joking here, people. It's all comin' out! Well, within reason. I mean, I do have my pride, you know --what little there is left after giving birth four times...

So, it's no secret that I have hormonal problems. I've spoken candidly about my post-partum depression, and recently I've spoken about my PMS-depression. The reality is that my depression is triggered hormonally. But what I have not shared with you is that I have other problems when it comes to this natural biological thing we call menstruation: My flood days.

See, there's a reason it's called Aunt Flow --and flow, she does! I've always had a heavy period, but this year, it's been really bad. I blame my form of birth control. I have a ParaGard IUD, and frankly? I love it. I adore it. This is the second time I have used such a device, and I really like it as birth control. Seriously, it rocks! But for some reason, it has turned Aunt Flow into Aunt Niagara Falls. Holy cow, people! The worst days? Two and Three. Day one is the warning. Day Four, Five, and Six, the floods recede. Day Seven? The fading good-bye. But man, Days Two and Three? It's almost like after-birth!

I was expecting this, a little, though. Periods do get heavier with an IUD; especially the non-hormonal one. Which is what I wanted. No hormones, I mean. Personally, I like knowing that everything is working properly; I like the clockwork. I like to know I'm whether I'm pregnant or not the natural way because I tend to worry. But now I'm starting to re-think my decision. Not just because of the heavy periods, but because of the hormones I think my body desperately wants to balance. [No worries there, though, dear reader! These are all things I'm planning on exploring once we get to Utah in the coming weeks.]

Now, back to the heaviness factor. This causes problems when faced with important tasks. Like any form of exercise. Or doing something big. Like packing boxes and moving furniture. Which normally wouldn't matter, except guess what I'm doing? Exactly. So, basically, yesterday? On flow day Number Two? Nothin' got done, baby. Well, a box here and there, perhaps. Maybe some errands. But not nearly what I wanted to get done. Not even close. Just chalk it up to another day trying to entertain Aunt Flow.

Okay, now I know this subject bothers a lot of people. Women included! This candid talk about the body's private functions can totally turn people off. And that's okay. For you, maybe. But not for me! I have to talk about this stuff, because I have to deal with this stuff. For a whole week! Out of every four! That's a lot of weeks, you know. Oh, wait. You do know? You have to go through this, too? How delightful for me! Because now I get to hear about it!

So, dear women (or men, who, for some strange reason find this subject fascinating for whatever reason) how do you deal with the Aunt Flow in your life? Are you Lucky Light or Hellish Heavy? Or do you even care? I'm truly not above you telling me that this subject makes you gag. Just be sure to rate your gaginess, okay? Remember, this is for posterity, so please...be honest. (Brownie points if you name that movie!)


Lanette said...

Just wait for pre-menopause when Aunt Flow hangs around for a month or two at a time. When I seriously wanted to lick the dirt off the back of the car I realized I might need some iron supplementation or perhaps a transfusion. Let's just say these are the times we are not singing "I enjoy being a girl!!" Now that Aunt Flow never comes around life is fabulous!!! That's something to look forward to!

Rochelleht said...

Princess Bride.

I change as I get older. Nothing is ever set in stone for me. Used to be frequent and heavy, now frequent and not so heavy. But without fail, every single time, I have my period on vacation.

Jamie J said...

Before children my periods were short and light...not to many problems. Since having Rachel it's all been totally different. I usually have one heavy day and the rest are not so bad. This last period though, I'm telling you I have never had such a heavy period...2-3 days of soaking supers. It was kinda freaking me out a bit...I figure the first one post-miscarriage is bound to be pretty weird though. I hope they don't keep up like that! I miss my 5 day periods :)

kiddle97 said...

Princess Bride, one of the most quotable movies ever. Love it.
Anyway... I found you because a friend had referred me to a post on Tales of the Crib about birthday parties, one you wrote I think last year, where the kids said the party was boring. I'm freaking out at the impending party we are throwing for our 5-year-old next week. We haven't ever thrown a party before -- birthdays were always family affairs. Growing up, my parents threw parties for the kids when they were 8 (after getting baptized), and 12 (moving away from Primary and entering the "adult" world), but those parties were always, ALWAYS, the pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey type. The only reason we are throwing a party for our 5-year-old is because he gets invited it seems every other week to a party -- and they are always so blasted over-the-top -- that he has been talking non-stop for the last 6 months about his party when he turns five. Bounce houses? Swimming pool parties? Catered food? AAAAH! The very idea just gives me a migraine. So we are inviting a few friends over to our house, where we are going to let the kids decorate sugar cookies, play soccer and hockey in the backyard, have cake and ice cream and then go home. I have no idea what to do otherwise. The party is scheduled for 2 hours, and I fear we'll have loads of extra time that I won't know how to fill, and - ugh, it's just stressing me out. Especially since his best friends are the ones who really go all out EVERY YEAR for every birthday. So did you bust up in tears when the kids told you the party was "boring", or were you stalwart and took it with a grain of salt? Or did you hold back the tears? I think I'd burst out crying if the kids tell me that next week, 'cause I'm already so stressed about it. Anyway, thanks for letting me get that out. It was a relief to read your post and the ensuing comments that showed I wasn't alone in wishing parties would just be simple at-home affairs where innocence of children is preserved.
Oh, and good luck with your periods. I like being a girl and all, but I hate hate hate periods...

Brooke S said...

The Pit of despair! Don't even think about... cough, hack up a lung.. start talking much lower... don't even think about trying to escape... Love that movie.

I understand and hear your pain... Here is our situation... Chris and Chandler are the only boys in a house full of girls... Once last summer when the good ol' auntie was visiting us... Chris took Chan camping because there was so much excess hormones in the house - he needed to do something manly... :) Chris always knows when it's coming for me because while I usually laugh at his very funny jokes and comments - he is NO LONGER FUNNY! And he becomes very STUPID! Now, did he do anything different than normal - NO, but it affects me as if he is a completely different person... Ah.... Oh well... until we die, I guess...

LAHansen said...

Yes my dear...I have the lovely flow that just keeps flowing...and flowing...and flowing! Niagra...yep! Before having children, I had endometriosis (there's more about that in a post I did a while back: http://youjustgottalaugh.blogspot.com/2008/02/why-i-dont-have-10-children.html) and now my periods a little better...but still very heavy. For me...Day 2 and Day 3. Sometimes I get lucky and I get going at the end of Day 1...lucky me!

I also relate to the hormonal change in mood...I am very much affected by hormone changes...again, lucky me!

I told my husband that when we know (spiritually) that we are done having children that I'm gettin a hysterectomy...he thinks I'm joking...I'm NOT!

So sorry about Flow's bad timing...she's really inconsiderate!

Kellyry said...

I suppose I should acknowledge that when it comes to flow, I am on the luckier side and have little-to-no difficulties in keeping things under control with tampons, and with no restrictions on activity. And my period usually only lasts 4 days, 5 at the most.

However, where I am not so lucky are all the other physical side effects of having my period. Days 1 & 2 are HELLACIOUS and almost always include both diarrhea and vomiting. Oh, and being curled up in the fetal position while trying to keep the heating pad on the hottest setting attached to my front and my back. Oh, and I'm so drugged from trying to manage the pain that I walk through life in a fog.

But days 3 & 4 are usually a breeze and I can reenter the land of the living. But man, oh, man are those first couple days awful, with me cursing my reproductive organs and swearing that I'd happily live without ever having a biological child if only God would see fit to instantly remove whatever innards are causing me such agony.

bythelbs said...

My periods were always much worse before I had children--they're much better to deal with now.

I knew someone with your similar situation who wouldn't even leave the house on her heavy days because every earlier attempt to resulted in embarrassing situations and mad dashes home to change. She used "Poise" pads when she absolutely had to leave the house. I used to use those ginormous boat-sized overnight pads in my youth. Mighty uncomfortable though--and they made me very self-conscious.

Have you talked to your Dr. about it? Maybe you'll have to switch birth control methods if you really want to try to solve the problem rather than just suffering through it (insert pitiful Westley moans here). Good luck!

bythelbs said...

OK, I'm sorry, but Blogger is totally obnoxious! It took me like 10 minutes to post my stupid comment! What the $*#&?!

OK, rant over.

christy said...

Periods suck - that is all there is too it! I have learned that birth control sucks as well - which is why I don't do it anymore. I go with the "family planning" program...which is to figure out your "fertile" time and just avoid sex during that time. You can go to www.parenting.com and find the fertility calculator...it will give you 3 days that you are most fertile - i usually go 2 days before and 2 days after...so we don't have sex for a week - it is SOOOOOOOOO much better than having to deal with hormones, weight gain, and all that other crap you have to deal with when you take the risks of birth control.

Of course, this doesn't work for everyone...and i am sorry you deal with so much. I had a companion that had that same type of thing with the fetal position - heating pad deal and it always made me sad and grateful at the same time...

good luck! hope you get everything done despite your unwelcomed guest

Cheryl said...

Well, golly! I didn't realize this subject was such a rallying one. Okay, just kidding. I totally new people would want to talk about this! :)

Just to be clear, though, I'm having problems with my OWN hormones --nothing artificial. My IUD has no hormones what-so-ever; it's just a Copper T. The stuff I'm dealing with is my own chemistry, and I'm thinking I might need to GET hormones to balance them out again. We'll see. Plus, I'm an expert at the rhythm method and it doesn't work for me. I ovulate twice a month. Doh!

THANK YOU! You are right, it will end one day!

I had my period while we were on a cruise to Mexico. Oh, and in Canada. And Hawaii. And...yeah...I totally understand...why does it always do that?!

I'm a super-soaker (haha! that's funny), but yes, miscarriage periods (for a while) are the worst. I'm sorry about that...

WOW! I totally remember that post and NO, do not give in and do big parties! That's totally lame. Do your own thing.
My reaction to the "this is boring?" Well, I had to stop myself from smackin' the kid --I just said "Boring!? What?! This was the best party Ever!" or something like that. Don't worry too much about it. It's one party and there's no reason to stress about it. I promise.

Amen! I become a different person, too. Completely!

Ooh. Endometriosis is NOT a fun thing to have. I've never experienced it, but I've had friends suffer through it. So sorry! But glad it's in the past.

I have other friends who go through the same painful side effects. I have never had cramps that bad before (although labor has really put my pain threshold much higher), so I can't really relate. It's so not fair! To have a light period but be rendered helpless? Or to have no cramping but bleed like a burst artery? Not fair, not fair.

I'm definitely going to be looking at other BC options. So funny that I NEED BC to help fix this problem. Ah, well, so did my mom!

And sorry about the posting. Mine worked fine...? Are you sure you're doing it right? :) :)

Kimberly said...

I too, have had two IUD's. The first one I loved, my periods were a little heavier but managable. The second one is similar to what you describe. Very heavy flow. I put up with it for two years thinking it was just normal IUD stuff. I got it out in Nov. to start TTC and before my midwife yanked it out she did an ultrasound to see if it was in right. It wasn't! It was scraping the side of my uterus, thus causing the heavy bleeding. I was so mad at myself for putting up with it that long! So just in case, get it checked to make sure that sucker is in there right!

Stanton and Julie said...

I am one of the gaggy girls! I have always HATED the "period" commercials on TV and still change the channel. I think it's a sign of immaturity.
I didn't even tell my mom I'd started my period for about 9 months, I'd just sneak into the storage room and take the tampons from there. Luckily, I've never had anything serious to deal with in that department (ie: mood swings, pain, heaviness, bloating).
I've been pregnant or nursing for about 80% of our marriage (that's not an exaggeration), so I haven't had too much experience with it recently, either. Thank goodness!

Ann said...

I had MUCH worse periods before kids. I was like kellyry...I would lay on the bed for 2 days praying to die...2 heating pads, so doped up on drugs I couldn't have walked if I'd wanted to. At one point my dr put me on Percaset(I have no idea if that's spelled right) and some strong anti-inflammatory at the same time. It helped, but I was still rendered useless. And I was lucky compared to my mom....she had to go to the hospital twice and they just knocked her out for 24 hours. (Not sure if they'd even do that for you anymore these days, though). Oh, and also, I had WAY heavier periods then too. So I was one of the really unlucky ones w/way heavy flow and monstrous cramps too. But since kids, it's been a lot better, even when I had an IUD (the copper one). And since I had #4, Aunt Flo has yet to make an appearance. This is the longest I've gone w/o her showing up! #4 is almost 7 months old! I think the difference is that she's still waking up a couple of times for night nursings, whereas the other kids all slept through the night by now. So I have a hard decision....do I night-wean her and risk having Aunt Flo come back or do I just try to enjoy the night feedings and REALLY enjoy the lack of periods? I think I'm going to opt for the latter choice!

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Hey Cheryl,
I second Kimberly's idea, to have them do an ultrasound and check to make sure it's still in the correct position. I had one that "migrated" and they had to remove it & replace it with a new one.

And, if you ever want to completely get rid of good ol' Flow, get the Mirena IUD. I'm on my 2nd Mirena and I LOVE it!! After 1 or 2 months of regular periods, I stopped having periods all together. It's been great.

Cheryl said...

motwb and kimberly--

I had actually not even thought about that! My first paragard experience was fabulous (still heavier periods, but not like this!) and so that thought didn't even cross my mind. I'm totally going to get it checked out! Thank you!

The Mirena scares me. Anything that makes my plumbing dry up chemically doesn't make sense to me. I know a lot of people love it, but I just don't think I could do it...(of course, I'm always open to changing my mind!).

You did not! I can't believe you didn't tell your mother. I'm betting she was horrified when she found out that you went so long without telling her --was she? Anyway, how come you think talking about periods is a sign of immaturity? Just curious.

You and your nursing! :) I'm sorry you were in the pain dept --and your mom! It's amazing what our bodies go through just for the chance to reproduce. That doesn't mean I'm upset at our chance to reproduce, just annoyed it has to be so...so...annoying. Yes, annoying.

Cheryl said...

Sorry. I should have said: "anything that makes my plumbing dry up artificially" not "chemically". But I knew what I meant when I wrote it. :)

Lizzie said...

Christy - About, oh, 7 months ago, we decided to rely on the "timing" method one night, as we were, um, empty-handed and in the mood. I should have been 3 whole days before the danger time, and I'm usually like clockwork, so we trusted everything was safe. Long story short, I'm 29 weeks pregnant now.

MOTWB - Isn't Mirena the IUD that's for up to 5 years? Seeing as I'm unexpectedly pregnant this time, that sounds great! How have you liked it? Has it effected your mood or weight? I'd love to hear your personal experience with it.

Cheryl - I'm also interested in an IUD after this baby (see above), so I'll have to talk to you about what you learn once you move here. I'm also not into big mood swings or heavy flows (ok, who is, really?)

brenbot said...

Cheryl - If you decide to take hormones to balance out your mood or whatever, you should look into bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (HRT). I bet there are doctors in UT that prescribe it. You take your prescription to a compounding pharmacy and they make a formula especially for you according to what the doctor prescribes (this much progesterone, this much estrogen, this much testosterone, etc.). Big plus is that the hormones are identical to what your body makes, not a artificial pharmaceutical. You can totally call me with questions. Just an idea if you go that route.

Cheryl said...

The funny thing is, I hate mood swings and stuff, too --thus the paragard over the mirena. I thought "Oh, for sure! The mirena will make me all crazy, so I'll do this!" Obviously, it didn't work that way for me. Eh. For sure, we'll chat!

I'd love to hear more about it! I'll call you and we'll talk about it (after the move, though). :)

Hillary said...

Princess Bride. And who doesn't hate Aunt Flow? Even if you do have light periods (mine really aren't that bad, but they have gotten worse since I had a baby), they suck. Let's face it. Sometimes, like one week out of every four, being a girl sucks.

tracy m (dandelion mama) said...

Since baby #3, I swear, it's like giving birth to small farm animals (or perhaps internal organs- mmmm, liver?) once a month. Seriously.

I sympathize, and unfortunately share, your inability to do anything on days 2 and 3. A 33-year old friend of mine is having the lining of her uterus stripped away (medical reasons) and I find myself totally coveting this... hse's done having her kids, and now she won't have a period anymore....

Dan and Michelle said...

Well, all I have to say is Mirena...have you really ever gotten pregnant with an IUD in? I suppose it is possible, but not having a period is fantastic, and I really am not concerned about getting pregnant. Oh, this info is just for posterity though, right?

Jill said...

I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for taking on these discussions that most people won't bring up. I also have the Copper T, but my Aunt Flow has not returned since Chani was born. I'm looking for her to visit about 3 months from now (if Emery was any indication). I was very irregular after she came back after Emery was born (hence Chani), so we'll see how it goes this time around. We just didn't want to have another baby right away while Clint is trying to find a job and moving and all of that. By the way, Clint said he remembers your brother more than you, but he's not so good with names, better with faces.

One more thing I will say, is that my poor body cannot handle the hormones from birth control pills and the Mirena IUD. It makes me weird and caused me to get a lump in my breast, which wasn't so much fun. So, Cheryl, add me to the no artificial camp.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Hey Lizzie,
The Mirena is the one that lasts up to 5 years, and I love it! I got my first Mirena after my 3rd baby, almost six years ago. It was strange to get used to the whole no period thing...but not strange enough to stop me from getting the Mirena again after baby #4. I've had this one for over 3 years.

I love the fact that the hormones in the Mirena are less than the pill, and that I can have it removed anytime. I actually ended up having my 1st Mirena removed only a year after having it put in, as we decided to have another baby...and we got pregnant 2 months later!

Obviously I love not having a period. I still have occasional cramps, as of course my body still has an ovulation cycle. But the cramps and spotting only happen about every 5 or 6 months for me.

Another perk is the preparation factor...we never have to be prepared. :)

I haven't noticed any changes in my mood, which is good because the pill turns me into a lunatic. :) I also wouldn't attribute any of my weight gain to the Mirena, but wouldn't that be a good excuse?

Me: "No, it can't be all those midnight snacks...It must be my Mirena!" hee hee

It's still weird to me that I have a foreign object in my body, but it's definitely worth it. Any more questions?

Katie said...

Wow, 25 posts! I had such a scary problem with hormones back when Maren was a toddler that I swore them off for a while. I have been interested in an IUD, but we are thinking about #3 soon and so I will just wait a bit. I didn't know about the heavy periods. I used the patch for about a year and after a HUGE headache that only went away when I removed the patch, I have been off since. I later found out that the patch has a high incidence of blood clots, stroke and death related to blood clots. Scary. Maybe I will try Mirena after #3. We just use the old drug store method....if you know what I mean. It has worked for the last 3+ years. I do hate periods though. Actually, I am on mine right now and it sucks. Mine just decides to come on all heavy on day 1...unexpectedly. There have been a few times where I have had to run home to change. Ugh! I am like a 32 day cycle girl so it is hard to figure out when it comes.

Cheryl said...

Yes, it does suck!

Seriously, when we're done having children, I really think I'll do something to myself, and not just hubby. (Sorry, Hubby!) Perhaps that will be the time to think of something drastic. Of course, if my IUD is just placed wrong, then...well...you know...

Ah, but there you go! I like to know because there's always a chance of pregnancy, even with an IUD. Remember mom's cousin or something who got pregnant AFTER having a hysterectomy? Yeah! Plus, I ovulate twice a month, so I'm just paranoid about it. But I'm glad you like the Mirena. I may give in one day and get one. :)

Suh-weet! Well, you know, about not wanting artificial stuff. Except I'm starting to think I NEED artificial stuff. Sadly.

Awesome info. Thank you for sharing it with everyone!

That is one thing I'm grateful for --I'm so on time that usually I not only know the day my period will start, but I know the TIME. Crazy, I know! Sorry about the 1st day being the worst (yucky accidents!). Not fun. You're thinking about #3, eh? Awesome! :)

Julie said...

Cheryl, I just got back on to this post and need to clarify! I hope you're still reading these comments!
I meant that I think I'M immature that I can't stand to watch female commercials! Sorry I didn't say that right! I would have been ticked at me if I were you!

I don't think I ever really "told" my mom, she just noticed the tampons were disappearing at a faster rate. I don't even remember a conversation with her about it. I just know she started buying more for the storage room. I remember reading the instructions in the box and thinking..."Toxic Shock Syndrome??? Well, I guess it's better than having to tell anyone."

I am resolved to be better with my girls, but at the same time, I don't feel like I was sold short on anything, either, I kind of liked being on my own with the period. But I will totally make myself available to my girls if they feel like they want to discuss things. Hopefully that's a LOT of years down the road, as I still need to gather the stamina to watch the commercials on TV!

Lizzie said...

MOTWB - Thank you for the information! It's always nice to hear someone's real experience and not just what the company is putting out. I definately think I'll talk to my doctor about it.

Cheryl said...

Oh, no! I wasn't ticked. I knew something didn't quite feel right, that's why I asked. I'm so morbidly curious now; email me and explain why you find the whole period thing to be so...so...gaggy. Yeah, that's it. Why do you find it so gaggy? I guess I'm just remembering candid discussions in high school and for some reason I didn't think you...anyway...Just email me!

And of course, I'm always reading my comments. :)

Amber said...

Aunt Flow has been screwed up since I have been on birth control. The pill wigged me out hormonally so I use the Nuva, which gives me much lighter cycles and doesn't whack me out nearly as much. Which is always a good thing!

Cheryl said...

The Nuva Ring? I tried that once...but gravity being gravity, it didn't work for me very well...

Sorry BC wigs you out! That's so common, isn't it?

MIchele Davis said...

I had the Mirena until recently and I loved it too. I had very short (about 3 days?) light periods. Man the first time after I took it out, I was like wow! it made more of a difference than I realized! As for your pms depression, have you been evaluated for pmdd? It is something that I struggle with severely, but there are medications or different things that you can do to control it. You should check it out online and have your doctor evaluate you for it. :)