Hormonal Birth Control Solves Everything Right? Wrong.
Hi, my name is Jess, I have two children, whom I gave birth to at age 17 and 19. This saved me in ways I could write a book about. I also had one miscarriage. Members of my family have a history of gynecological problems and some of them struggle with fertility. I also was at high risk for hormonal problems due to my strong family history. What I did not know, was just how limited doctors’ understanding of menstrual and hormone problems was. For every problem I presented with, hormonal birth control and painkillers were the answer. When those didn’t work, surgery. I had 10 operations in the span of a few years, until finally and out of desperation, I had a total hysterectomy in my twenties. I cannot help but wonder if the Depo Provera prescribed to me after the birth of my second child was somehow the root of my illnesses and all of the other prescriptions for hormonal birth control added and worsened my pain. It seems like I was in vicious cycle. Here is my story.
Hormonal Birth Control, Pain, and the Long List of ER Visits and Unsuccessful Surgeries
Depo Provera: The Beginning of My Pain
At my 6-week post birth check-up for my 2nd child, the doctor I recommended that I go on the Depo Provera shot to prevent any further pregnancies. So, I did. In September 2013, after two more shots of the Depo Provera, I started having “a period” that lasted 7 months! After multiple doctors’ visits, lots of medications and tests, I was referred to my first specialist, a gynecologist.
Operation 1. In April 2014, at 20 years old, I had my first gynecological surgery: a hysteroscopy, along with a D&C and a Mirena inserted to stop the “period” I was having. The Mirena was also for birth control.
The Mirena Chronicles: More Pain and Ruptured Cyst
For the next 8 months, I had extremely irregular periods, unusual pain, and contemplated having the Mirena removed. The specialist recommended that I keep it in and see if it settles. Intercourse was painful, and after, I was guaranteed to wake up bleeding the next day. My pain became unbearable and after I had an ultrasound, they found
I had a cyst on my left ovary. I was given prescription pain relief and was told they would do another ultrasound in 4-6 weeks. That didn’t happen because the pain was slowly getting worse. After two more visits to the emergency department with more pain medication, I was still told that we needed to take a wait and see approach. My health was declining. I lost 7 kilograms in 3 weeks from feeling so unwell.
Then one day I collapsed with severe sudden pain. I went to the hospital straight away when another ultrasound revealed the cyst on my ovary had ruptured. I was told I needed to undergo surgery.
Operation 2. I had a laparoscopy, so they could clean out the mess from the ruptured cyst.
Irregular Bleeding, Another Cyst, Endometriosis, and Still, Mirena is the Solution
A couple months went by and my pain once again returned. I still was having irregular bleeding and was still guaranteed to be bleeding after having intercourse. It was like déjà vu. Unfortunately, I was back on pain killers and an ultrasound revealed another ovarian cyst. The pain was often unbearable. Off to the emergency department again. Multiple pain medications didn’t seem to be working and I was told I need to deal with it as there was nothing they could really do. I thought “Are you serious?!?! Why the hell won’t you help me?!?!” I was a mess.
At every hospital visit, I got the “Oh you are on a lot of bad medication; you shouldn’t take so much.” So I would ask “can you please do something? I don’t want to keep shoveling pills down my throat!!”. However, every time the answer seemed to be “here are some more medication for your pain because we can see you’re in a lot of pain and your vital signs are showing you are in a lot of pain”. This wasn’t providing any sort of solution to fix my pain and being told to suck it up and get over it, by one doctor, didn’t help either. I couldn’t help but feel depressed and severely anxious every time I needed to go to the emergency department. I was in so much pain I didn’t know what to do. When did I become a person who needed multiply prescription medicines to control the pain enough that I could function semi-normally? At one point, I weighed only 48 kilograms. I had lost 10 kilograms. I could barely eat. Every day I tried to stay positive, but it was so hard being consumed in pain 24 hours, 7 days a week.