Monday, 18 June 2012

Let's not get embarrassed

For months I’ve not quite been myself. I have blamed it on stress, uni and even thought it was all in my head. I’ve been suffering horrific mood swings. One moment I could be happy, the next I could be in tears and want to just sleep. My skin has been prone to break outs and even after training to run 5km and eating relatively healthy, I’ve gained a stone over a year.

And no, it’s not pregnancy as has previously been speculated on Twitter. Children don’t really figure in my life plan and I’m not good with under 10’s anyway, so I’m very conscientious about contraception and can predict my periods, often to the hour. I realised I was due to go for my six monthly pill check-up and that’s when it dawned on me. All of my symptoms are hormonal, the pill is hormonal, and I changed pill about 9 months ago.

All week I’ve been annoying myself. I rang the clinic I normally go for a check- up and booked in there, but then decided that it might be an issue for my doctor to solve so booked in there too. The clinic meant speaking to women about this sensitive subject and would be a much more pleasant experience, but my male doctor has always been reassuring, especially when I was recently paranoid about my moles, and I thought he might be able to give more of a knowledgeable insight and tell me if my problems were the result of something else.

So many people are reluctant to go to the doctor about feminine or sexual issues and they really should. I reasoned that this is what the doctor is there for and decided to pull myself together and go see him and he was incredibly understanding, talked me through my options, took my blood pressure and decided that a progesterone only pill may be better for me and advised a low fat and low salt diet, three months on my new pill when the current one ends and then to go back for another check-up.

I often got the feeling at the clinic that they would just give you what- ever contraception was available and was definitely not aware of the side-effects. I know a lot of people just dismiss them as it’s hard to believe that one pill a day could have such negative side effects such as depression, weight gain, recurrent thrush, migraines or high blood pressure. How many women have been diagnosed with something without even considering the possibility that the pill may be the cause?

I’m finding this entry a bit of a struggle to be honest, because I feel it's boring and not something people want to read about, however it’s something they should read and shouldn’t be worried or ashamed to discuss. If you have an awkward or ‘inappropriate’ problem, the worst thing you can do is sweep it under the rug. We should talk about contraception and similar issues; it’s not a big dirty secret. It’s sensible and we need to know our options, possible side effects and that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to talk about.

Perhaps all of that talking about swan rape, incest and other taboo and often sick topics in literature seminars has made me unshockable, but I truly believe that women need to not just speak to their partners, but their friends and their doctors in order to get all the facts and make the right choices regarding sexual health and contraception. I’ve said previously that the same needs to be done with mental health. Let’s stop whispering about it and let’s talk about it like adults. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, we’re all human and part of that is that we have different experiences and therefore side effects. If we don’t talk about it, how will we know what works for us? 

So I shall give this a go, happy that I’ve had someone to discuss it with and that I may finally have an answer to the puberty like symptoms I have been experiencing!   

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