CW: Fertility issues, trying to conceive, loss of a parent
I have always thought that Bee picked a perfect name for her Menstruation Matters meme because it does matter in so many ways, to so many different people and I think the intensity with which it matters to those it affects often varies throughout our lives. In Periods: The Bloody Truth I discussed how my periods started and how unpleasant they were for me until I went on the pill to control them at 16. How they mattered to me in that time frame was that they made my life misery.
Once they were under control via the contraceptive pill they were less of a burden and simply just a thing that happened during my 7-day break from the pill. When I stopped taking the pill because my ex-husband and I wanted to try making babies, the way they mattered to me changed entirely. Thankfully age and perhaps years of taking the pill meant while still painful, they were nowhere near as bad as in my teenage years, and to my delight, they had at least settled into a 32-day cycle, though the number of days I bled for did vary but as far as I can recall never went longer than 5-6 days, which isn’t bad compared to what some folks deal with.
My mum being poorly and ultimately passing away meant that the first two years of TTC (trying to conceive) were filled with stress and upset. This meant less sex happened and I figured my body probably wasn’t at peak performance so it didn’t surprise me we didn’t get pregnant. In truth, I was also a little relieved. My mum never had to deal with knowing I was pregnant and that she wouldn’t see the baby. I didn’t have to deal with having a baby soon after losing my mum, which I think would have totally broken me.
Once we’d had her funeral though and for various reasons, I became a fulltime housewife rather than working, the lack of pregnancy became very noticeable. Like many women TTC, I became obsessed with tracking my cycle, I was a frequent visitor to TTC forums and eventually, when nothing happened we sought medical advice. As I previously mentioned the results showed I was not ovulating, and probably hadn’t been for a long time. I was prescribed 6 months of a fertility drug called Clomid as a starting point.
Taking that each month and then still getting my period was crushing. I felt like a failure every damn time. It was devastating. On our final month of the starting dose, we had sex once, it really wasn’t a great month for us, for reasons I don’t remember. By some miracle though that was the month we had success. I got a positive pregnancy result and I was blessed with a straightforward pregnancy, a labour that I actually have fond memories of and beautiful baby boy. Despite the trials we faced I actually think we were very lucky all things considered and our issues were minimal compared to what could have been.
When we started trying for our second baby, we fell pregnant on our 6 month of trying without any intervention. I cannot tell you how amazed and happy I was by that. As I have discussed before, that pregnancy was not successful and was I believe a contributing factor in my marriage ending and my discovery of kink.
While I was living the single life and going on kink adventures my periods were something I tried to control again. I could not longer take the pill I previously took, due to my migraines and updated medical guidance. I tried a different pill which was not a good fit, I had previously tried the Mirena coil whilst still married and that was a horrific experience, so I tried the implant. I’m sure you can guess how that went from my post titled Implant Misery & Eternal Bleeding.
Since the implant came out in march 2019 my cycles have been unpredictable in length, but usually no less than 23 days and no more than 25. They have however been 4 days long, no more no less, not as heavy as they used to be and also less painful. This is a huge win for me in many ways, but I do have my concerns about the short length of my cycles.
As I previously mentioned in Hopes & Fears a baby is something Mr F and I have talked about. We are not actively trying, but I will confess we aren’t actually using any contraception other than the pull-out method to stop it happening. The perfect use failure rate for this method is 4%, however, it’s estimated that 18-28% of couples using this method will fall pregnant within the first year. So it’s definitely not a great option if you absolutely do not want a baby.
So far it’s worked perfectly, or at least on the surface, it has. I had one month where I had a 29-day cycle, when my period came it was agony, extremely heavy and with a lot more clotting than usual. I honestly think that was a pregnancy that just didn’t stick. The truth is having shorted cycles can sometimes be an issue for having a successful pregnancy, so of course, given my previous history, I’m worried.
My last three cycles, however, have been 25, 26, and 26 days long. This feels good. It’s only been 15 months since I had my implant removed and I don’t doubt that it is taking my body a little bit of time to find a natural rhythm. I am curious to see if I can help my body though and I apparently can’t think about babies without being a little bit obsessed. My age, I am 36 in November is also a factor in my thoughts surrounding my own fertility.
I am doing a handful of things to try and create good uterine health. First of all, I started to decrease my caffeine intake. This was a direct response to that awful cycle I had. Caffeine is one of the things they advise you to avoid whilst TTC and in pregnancy. I was drinking a lot of coffee, too much regardless of circumstance to be honest and so I’ve slowly been cutting back. I am now down to one caffeinated drink a day. I am going to try and remove that completely next week and only have caffeine on occasions. For example, if I have a hot drink at someone else’s house and they don’t have decaf.
I am replacing one of my daily coffees with raspberry leaf tea. It is apparently a ‘uterine tonic’. It is said to tone and relax the uterus and pelvic muscles, soothing for menstrual cramps and can help regulate heavy bleeding. On top of that, it can balance hormones and can help prepare the body for ovulation. Does it work or not? No idea but it tastes nice and seems like a harmless thing to factor into my day.
Similarly, I have added two supplements to my daily routine too. One is an iron supplement which also contains the recommended daily dose of folic acid that is recommended when both TTC and during pregnancy. My iron levels are often an issue for me, which is another reason I should ditch the caffeine. The other supplement I’m taking is agnus castus.
For as long as I’ve been interested in fertility agnus castus has been mentioned in conversations. It can’t be used alongside hormonal contraceptives but many folks find it helpful in relieving PMS symptoms, but more importantly for me, one of its effects may well be lengthening the luteal phase, so the second half of my cycle. Its this phase being short that can be a cause of miscarriage in some pregnancies.
As you can see, right now, menstruation matters to me a hell of a lot. I don’t know when in the future pulling-out will cease, probably a little way off yet. I won’t like though, TTC aside, the idea of that gets me so freakin’ excited from a sexual point of view. I genuinely cannot wait for the first time Mr F doesn’t pull out, I’m gonna come so hard from that alone I think!
My hope is that over the next few months my cycle will remain at 26 days, ideally maybe even hitting 28 regularly. I’m also going to start tracking my ovulation, not because I necessarily need to know my most fertile days right now, but because lack of ovulation was my previous fertility issue. If for some reason that occurs again I’d like to have a head start on knowing it is a potential issue.
I will be back with an update on all of this, I did consider whether or not I should start a new blog for this kind of stuff, but I’ve decided against that. I called this blog FlossDoesLife for a reason, I wanted to be able to write about my life, regardless of topic, even though at the time kink was my main feature. I will always use content warnings for these subjects, so you’ll never be blindsided by talk of babies or fertility and maybe one day I will write about why I do that and how important it is to be mindful of how these topics can affect people.