My Period Journey | How I'm Navigating Menstruation Post Hormonal Birth Control

For the past two-or-so years that I've been on the Nexplanon contraceptive implant, my life has been hell, and I don't think I'm exaggerating. I have been bleeding non-stop since having the Nexplanon implant inserted, and it came with a slew of other horrible side effects that had me wondering; am I the only one feeling like this?

Maisie Hill's book Period Power is laying in a patch of grass. Beside the book are two Dame reusable period pads.
Maisie Hill's 'Period Power'

Starting Out on Contraception

My contraceptive journey started later than most. I didn't have my first sexual partner until I was 22, and I hadn't used birth control as a means to manage my period beforehand, so I was completely new to the idea of contraception. When I talked to my GP about wanting to have a birth control method, they recommended the mini-pill; a contraceptive pill that you take once a day. I thought this was brilliant. I'll take it in the morning and I could be on my merry way. The Mini-Pill worked really well for the almost year I was on it. I had no side effects, and I still had my periods as expected. Until I didn't. One day, they just didn't stop. I, at the time, put it down to stress, as I was going through a horrible housing situation and wasn't quite sure where I was going to live.

And then Covid-19 struck. I usually got my contraception from a local sexual health clinic, and they were only seeing people for emergency situations. So I stopped taking the pill, and, from what I can remember, I think my periods went back to normal.

The Nexplanon Implant From Hell

I was now without contraception, but at the very beginning of the pandemic I had moved in with my partner, so I thought it would be very wise to get a more long-term birth control method that didn't need as much upkeep as the pill. I had spoken to my Mum about the different methods, and she was currently using the Nexplanon implant, so I did some research and booked an appointment to have one inserted. I was told that there would be minimal side effects and that most of what happens to people is that their periods get lighter or they stop altogether. None of those things happened to me. In fact, I think I had about one or two normal periods before the bleeding just didn't stop. And it didn't stop for the almost two years I had the Nexplanon implant. It was horrible.

Every day the bleeding didn't stop I just thought "maybe tomorrow will be the day it will stop?", and that's what I thought for the first year. I just got so used to bleeding that it felt like the new normal for me. I contacted my GP and told them what was happening, and I had some bloodwork done, but everything came back normal. They didn't know what was happening. I was then put on a round of pills called Norethisterone, which helps to delay your period. And the round that I took worked, so I phoned my GP up and told them my period had stopped. Wonderful! A few days later I had the worst bleeding, and the worst period pain I had had in my life. And of course, the constant bleeding started again and I was back to square one.

It wasn't until about a year and a half in that I started experiencing anxiety. Triggered by catching Covid earlier that year and losing a family member, it felt like it took a while for it to fully show itself. I had my first panic attack once I had gotten home from shopping. I felt sick all of a sudden, my mouth went dry, I felt dizzy, my heart was racing, I had hot and cold sweats, my body was uncontrollably shaking, and had such a horrible feeling in my stomach. I honestly thought I was having a heart attack. It wasn't until after I realised I was having a panic/anxiety attack. The only reason I'm mentioning this at all is that it wasn't until I started reading Maisie Hill's book Period Power that I learnt that natural Progesterone (the hormone that our body produces to help thicken the lining of the uterus) helps regulate our nervous system by calming us down. When I had the Nexplanon implant, my body was riddled with the synthetic Progesterone hormone, Progestin, which doesn't have any of the wonderful benefits that the natural Progesterone has. And as Progesterone dips in the lead-up to your usual period bleeding, that's why we sometimes feel irritable and have low moods or are anxious. So yes, my anxiety was probably caused by my fake, horrible, synthetic Progestins.

Post Hormonal Birth Control Life

I FINALLY had my implant removed in late May 2022, and I am already feeling so much better. I feel less bloated, my energy is back up, my bleeding has stopped, although I am yet to have a 'proper' period. My anxiety flutters here and there, but it's nowhere near as bad as it used to be - it's almost like I'm having the physical symptoms without the anxious thoughts, which feels really strange but oddly comforting because the anxious thoughts made it so much worse.

I am so excited to live my life without synthetic hormones ravaging my body. I haven't decided if I'm going to go back on any birth control (my partner has always worn condoms), but I know for certain that I'm definitely not going back on any hormonal birth control. In Maisie Hill's book, Period Power, she talks about Fertility Awareness as a method of contraception, and I must admit, it looks fascinating. Whilst reading her book I have learnt so much. It almost makes me want to cry because I didn't know this earlier, like, are you really telling me that I've spent 14 years having periods and I've not known this basic information? They should have her book in every school, it really is life-changing, and I'm so excited to continue to learn more about my cycle.

An Eco-Friendly Period

Going forward with periods, I want them to be the most eco-friendly they can be. It's quite annoying that I didn't have this revelation whilst bleeding continuously for almost two years, but I'm glad I'm making this decision now. I think learning about my cycle has made me view periods in a different light, and I see them more as a blessing now than the curse they are often made out to be at school. And with this new view, it has made me appreciate my body and therefore made me want to treat it well. I want to use only eco-friendly period care products - reusable period pads, period pants, and biodegradable and compostable disposable period pads.

I have been using the Dame re-usable period pads recently and have been getting on with them really well, although I don't think I have enough in my collection for me to solely use them for a whole cycle. I've heard they're bringing out period pants soon, so I will definitely be investing in some of them!

Daye are also on my radar for sustainable period care items. They're soon to be releasing compostable bamboo period pads, and I'm so excited. I think these will be a great option for when I don't have a reusable pad or pants available. If you'd like, you can use Kayleighc at the checkout for 20% off of your Daye purchases.

It's been a long journey to finally be on the verge of having a regular period. That moment hasn't come yet, as I'm still only 18 days out from having my Nexplanon implant removed, but hopefully, by the end of the month, we'll have some changes! I urge any menstruator to go out and buy Maisie Hill's book. I haven't even finished it yet, and it has taught me so much. Goodness knows what revelations I'll have when I finish it.

Kayleigh x