My Experience with Endometriosis, PCOS, and Other Ovarian Problems
When I was about 16, I went to the doctors with my friends to get the ‘morning after pill’ due to a condom breaking. (Just to note I was told by my sister when I was that age that you could only have that 3 times or it impacts your fertility, but it turns out this is a myth).
When I was there the doctors gave it to me but also suggested if I was having regular sex (with my boyfriend at the time) then it may be a good idea to go on some form of birth control. I agreed and we talked through the options. For me, I was limited. Due to suffering with migraines I could only be on birth control that was progesterone based and so I was put on a brand of ‘mini pill’ or progesterone only pill (POP). I took this everyday and set an alarm to ensure I took it at the same time each day. There is no break with the mini pill like there is on the combined version. After taking this for about 5 months my period started to carry on for 2-3 weeks, so I went back to the GP who suggested I change to another progesterone-based birth control to try and stop this.
The next form of birth control that I started at 17 was the depo injection. This was injected into my bottom every 3 months (I think?). The benefit was that I didn’t need to remember to take a pill every day, but I did need to remember to book the appointment in for my next appointment a few weeks before it was due. This form of birth control worked okay for me until I started to again bleed. The depo injection had pretty much stopped my periods completely apart from minor spotting, but I had started to bleed a week before my next injection was due. I told this to the nurse who said that this may mean I have a shorter cycle and so we could bring the injection forward by a week each time to stop this happening. This originally corrected the issue but when I next booked in a different nurse told me that bleeding wasn’t reason enough for me to have the injection early and so I went back to the normal time frame. A few months more of this and my periods started coming for 2/3 weeks at a time.
By the time I was at Uni I was bleeding lightly / spotting every single day. I went back and forth to GPs and sexual health clinics who checked me for STI’s (even though I had been in a committed relationship for 4 years by that point). They then concluded that it was the hormones so I came off of birth control to see if it would work itself out. I went back after 2 months, after 5 months and they kept saying it was still the hormones.
After a year of being on no birth control but still continuous bleeding I was getting really emotional about it. It was draining to constantly have to wear at least a pantyliner and try to arrange sex for the hours of the day when I wasn’t spotting/bleeding.
Finally, I saw a different GP and she suggested that I try the Mirena Coil or IUS (intrauterine system). She said that form of coil was known for stopping periods (unlike the copper coil which often makes them heavier) and that if my periods still carried on, I could try and take the mini pill at the same time as having the coil. I was apprehensive about the coil due to hearing the stories about how painful it is to be put in but at this point I was so fed up; I was willing to try anything. It is also important to note that I did raise whether there could have been other causes and in response to this they did hormonal blood tests, STI tests and some brief physical examinations using a speculum. They concluded from all of these that there wasn’t another cause.
I had the coil put in shortly after the meeting with the GP once I had been booked in at the clinic to get it. I ended up going to get it on my own, but it wasn’t too bad. It was painful to go in and I had quite bad cramps for the first 2 days after, but I was in a house full of girls who supplied me with tea, hot water bottles and ibuprofen so I wasn’t too bad. The coil did originally stop my bleeding, I would just get a short regular periods or spotting when it was due which was great however, whereas before I didn’t really get bad cramps, after about a year of having the coil fitted my cramps were a lot worse.
After being told that the bleeding was all hormonal and thinking my blood tests would have found something if there was another problem, I just decided to leave it. After a couple of years on the coil I also started to get night sweats. By that I mean I would wake up in the middle of the night with completely soaked pyjamas. Apart from that I’m usually someone who moans about being too cold and have never really had much of an issue with sweating even when doing exercise, so I was really confused about it.
I went to the clinic for something else and while I was there, I mentioned it to the doctor there who didn’t seem phased and said it was unrelated and so I didn’t bother to look into it further. 2 and a half years on I am still getting the night sweats and I am booked to talk to my GP about this since I now believe there may be more to it as a few months ago I ended up having to be rushed to A&E due to extreme back pain and cramping and finding out I had a dermoid cyst or ‘growth cell tumour’ on one of my ovaries which had twisted itself around my ovary and so now I only have one ovary.
It is possible that all of my previous issues may have been due to this cyst as a dermoid cyst is one that has always been there but, in my case, it had kept growing.
The only way they had noticed this and some small cysts on my other ovary was due to a CT scan (originally to look at my kidneys) and then further confirmation by an internal ultrasound.
I still have my coil and plan to keep it in until the 5 years are up and then I will discuss with my GP or a gynaecologist what I should do next.
The message I want you to get from this is not to scare you off certain forms of birth control but to be aware that all bodies are different and react differently to different forms but that if something is causing you constant bleeding, pain or extremely heavy bleeding you should keep at your GP to look into it.
Due to this happening and feeling that there is a definite lack of all ovary related matters I started my All about Ovaries Page and group on Facebook and Instagram. Please feel free to check it out and message me if you have any questions.