What is your cycle telling you?

Written by
Emily Kirkwold, PharmD, NFP Pharmacist
on September 13, 2020

Have you ever celebrated getting your period? 

Emily Kirkwold

I seriously get EXCITED when I get my period. But it wasn’t always this way.

If you’re like most women, you probably dread that time of the month. Or maybe you just don’t like to think about it. That’s how I was too. In high school, I hated using tampons and I didn’t know about menstrual cups, so I would just use pads. Which worked fine, except on those heavy days. And if I didn’t remember to go change them after each class, I would end up leaking through my jeans and nervously sneaking through the halls hoping no one would notice.

Periods just meant worrying for me: worrying about leaking, worrying about keeping my purse packed with supplies, and worrying about boys finding out that I had a period (how awful, right?)

Then, in college, I started getting two periods per month for a few months in a row. “What is this?” I thought. “Wasn’t one period bad enough?” I went to see my OB/GYN and she confidently told me that taking birth control would solve my problem. Because I didn’t know any better and I wasn’t motivated enough to learn about any other options, I started taking the birth control pills. Plus, I was entering pharmacy school, so I was supposed to be pro-medication.

And my doctor was right. My problem with having two periods per month was solved. I started only having one bleed per month again (little did I know that this bleed was not a true period). And now I always knew when that bleed was going to come. It was convenient.

Fast forward about 6 years, past going off the pill to have my son, and then going right back on it. Then, my husband and I decided we wanted to have another baby. I figured things would happen just like they did the first time. But they didn’t. I had been off the pill for a few months, we started trying, and then my period came. I was sad, but we tried again, and then my period came again. And again. Each month it returned, I became more heartbroken, disappointed, and frustrated.

Thankfully, my husband and I finally did get pregnant. And at that moment, I knew I was NEVER putting synthetic hormones in my body again. I had done my own research and I learned how birth control can affect your cycle for months or years after (funny how that never came up in pharmacy school). But, as happy as I was to be pregnant, I also knew I didn’t want to have a 3rd baby right away. Thus began my search into and discovery of natural family planning (NFP).

If only I knew about NFP in college, I could have asked my doctor some more educated questions about WHY I was having more than one bleed per month. If only I knew about NFP when I was married and wanting to avoid pregnancy, I could have spared my body the effects of synthetic hormones by using a natural method of birth control. If only I knew about NFP when I was trying to get pregnant, my husband and I would have known exactly when to try, instead of guessing (and miscommunicating and even arguing about it). 

Natural family planning gives you a FULL picture of your menstrual cycle – not just the bleed of your period. Sure, it can help you know when your period is coming, but it can also help you know when you will be ovulating, confirm you did ovulate, and get valuable information about your hormone levels based on the different phases of your cycle. I had learned about the menstrual cycle in health class and in pharmacy school, but it wasn’t until I was tracking my unique signs of fertility that I truly appreciated how amazing a woman’s body is.

And when you pay attention to your body, you can also have a clue when something isn’t working right. After having my daughter, I lost my periods altogether, even after I stopped breastfeeding. My NFP instructor helped me realize that this wasn’t normal and encouraged me to see my doctor. After many tests (including a brain MRI!), I received the diagnosis of functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA). Basically, my body wasn’t producing estrogen for some reason. There was no treatment. The endocrinologist told me if my periods didn’t come back, I could just take birth control to get a monthly “period.” I didn’t go back to see her. 

Instead, I learned how to support and work with my body. I did all kinds of things: prescription medication, diet changes, supplements, stress-reduction strategies, and worked with a holistic chiropractor.

Fast forward to today where I am overjoyed to know that I ovulated this cycle, meaning I should be getting another period in a couple of weeks. This will be my 7th recovery period since my diagnosis 1.5 years ago. And I will be celebrating when it is here!

Are you curious about what is going on during your cycle besides just the bleed of your period? Do you want to know how you can determine if you ovulated? Are you interested in appreciating the way your body was designed to function?

Join the discussion in the Hassle-Free Family Facebook group to dive in further or add your info to this form to receive updates by email.

And save the date for Tuesday 9/22 at 7:30pm CST! I will be hosting a free virtual workshop called “Know Your Body with Natural Family Planning.” You do NOT want to miss this! For more details or to register now, head to: www.bit.ly/nfpevent

Written By
Emily Kirkwold, PharmD, NFP Pharmacist

I am a pharmacist who works for YOU (and not for your doctor or a pharmacy). You deserve to make truly informed choices. You should only be taking medications that are needed, safe, and effective. If you desire to understand ALL your options and choose what’s best for YOU, then a visit with Dr. Emily may be just what you are looking for!

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