My Experience with Estrogen and Progesterone Pills
Hormone pills are used for more than just the birds and the bees...they are prescribed for managing symptoms of menopause, PCOS, imbalanced hormones (e.g. acne, mood swings, uncomfortable periods and PMS)...and more. I've been on some type of pill for about eight years now, and while at first it worked magic for me, I'm starting to wonder if I should go cold turkey! I'll get into the deets below:
Why I decided to take an estrogen pill...
Back when I was about sixteen my period was the absolute worst. PMS brought on acne, severe mood swings, intense cravings and more. And then the period itself brought on cramps so painful and flows so heavy that I'd lie in the high school nurse's office for a week.
The estrogen pill (also containing progesterone!) was like magic. In a snap, all of these bad symptoms went away. I hardly knew when I had my period and my skin was crystal clear. Life was good for years after that.
And then, cue the migraines:
I think around a year or two ago was when the monthly migraines began. Every time my cycle came, I would be out of commission with a hormonal migraine for a solid four to five days. I attributed it to the dip in estrogen during my sugar pill week. The headaches were the absolute worst and nothing made them better.
Pain meds are a no-go for me since I'm allergic to ibuprofen and, since I have autoimmune kidney disease, I shouldn't be taking ibuprofen regardless and should limit over-the-counter meds in general. Since I've begun my natural/holistic healing journey, I've also become more fazed by Rx meds and genuinely want to limit my use unless I really feel the need to take them!
But I wasn't about to let these headaches continue to steal a week out of every month, so I tried something new.
I started skipping my period
I thought foregoing my cycle would be awesome...no migraines, no blood. It sounded like every woman's dream! For a couple months I skipped the last week of each pill pack and went right along to the next pack. But I quickly learned the tax of manipulating my hormones.
After skipping my period once I started spotting constantly, and it got heavier as each day passed. My body was dying to have a cycle, but I wasn't letting it. I was extremely bloated around the clock and just felt overall off and unwell. I was sore and fatigued, and had symptoms of high estrogen. Also, my headaches were better but not completely gone.
I realized I no longer wanted to fight my hormones, but rather find a way to work with them.
I went on the progesterone-only pill, also called the "mini pill"
I was highly considering going cold turkey on the pill. I've been working with an FNTP- and IHP-certified root cause practitioner for my autoimmune disease, and she also happens to be a hormone expert. I knew I could work with her on regulating everything naturally. And I was, and still am, just feeling burnt out from prescription meds!
But since I am doing a lot of other things with my practitioner to handle my autoimmune, I figured I'd start with baby steps and wean down from an estrogen/progesterone pill to a progesterone-only pill.
I'm now in my third month of the "mini pill" and so far so good. I haven't had a hormonal migraine since, and that's really been amazing. I am spotting throughout the month and my period is a little heavier; PMS is a little more intense than before. Nevertheless, I do feel better and I'm happy to sit tight with this for the moment and focus on some other aspects of my healing journey.
What comes next?
I definitely know I want to explore regulating my hormones naturally with my practitioner in the coming months when the time is right.
What I don't know is whether I'd want to consider going off the progesterone-only pill. The constant spotting is annoying and I'm not sure if/when it will regulate. But since my headaches are gone and that was my top priority, I don't want to mess with too much too fast. It's also a form of birth control that provides peace of mind.
But at the same time, I've had a severe candida infection in the past and there's evidence I may be battling one now. Hormonal pills create the perfect environment for this type of infection. If this is the case, it's probably a good idea I stop the pill.
I'll update this post when the next part of my hormone journey unfolds. <3