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Trying to Conceive: Irregular Periods After Birth Control

By Amalah

Oh Dear! Amy… I have a dilemma and I honestly have no one to turn to…

I went on the pill when i was 17, switched to a different pill, and then a different… blaming weight gain and other things on the pill. Then I changed to the ring which I neither loved, nor hated… Other than the fact that I absolutely hated being on birth control full stop. It changed my sex drive-(what sex drive?) and above all, my husband and I really want a baby.

Getting back to it, I accidentally took the Ring out a week early, on October 31st-I then had a full normal period on November 6th. I went for this full month without replacing the b/c and had the following period on December 14th. It was ‘late’ and I thought I could be pregnant… But at the same time, I’m not really sure how ‘normal’ my periods are, or how far apart they would be.

I then picked up and moved with my husband to his home in Europe. Surprisingly all of my stress went away-as I’m generally some control freak with money-moving-unsettling-no jobs-eeeek! But, I have taken this time as a great break while we get our sh*t together… Being off of the b/c allowed us to have a normal sex life, yay! But then…my period didn’t come. We were full sure that I was pregnant, and completely upset when I tested on the 22nd of January, again on the 26th and finally on the 4th of February.

All negative. After the first negative one I gave up hope that I was pregnant. Made sure that I was relaxed and calm and not thinking about really anything… And then I started, on the 8th of February.

My question, after all of this long drawn out explanation is— What is up?! is it okay that I missed a full month? Will i ovulate normally? I want babies ohmygod I want babies so bad… I know I know I know-it’s waaay too early to worry that I won’t be able to, but gaaah.

Please tell me that it’s okay…

Oh my goodness gracious, it is SO OKAY. Take a deep breath, stop wringing your hands over this (I can see you doing it through the computer screen) and chill. This is totally, 100% normal and to-be-expected as your body gets used to being off of birth control and attempts to regulate itself.

Sure, some women get pregnant on the pill. Some women get pregnant the first month off the pill. But some women need a few cycles — sometimes up to six months or even a year — to get back to “normal” cycles and regular ovulation.

It’s been…what…four months since you took out the ring? You had the period you were going to have that month anyway. And then…one sort-of late period and then a bit of dry spell. All during a stressful and life-changing time. Sounds to me like your body just needs a few more months to get back in the groove.
Obviously I can’t quote you all kind of science-y things that really explain why this happens, but if you just think about it on the most basic level — you’ve been quashing ovulation (already a delicate and temperamental process to being with) since you were a teenager. Now you suddenly expect your body to snap back to attention and do something (perfectly, like clockwork) after all those years. I would guess that for every Christina Aguilera with her super-egg and super-sperm talk, there are probably a lot more women like you.

The ONLY cause for the barest bit of concern would be if your periods were this irregular BEFORE you went on the pill. Always late, no real discernible pattern, and months and months in between. This was me, from the time I was 13. So after going off the pill, I had a couple regular periods right afterwards and then…nothing. My cycles averaged 75 days…or longer. So for me, annovulation was my body’s natural rhythm, and it sucked. But obviously, it’s not an insurmountable problem, either with medical treatment or a buttload of patience.

If your periods were regular-ish when you were a teen, they will probably level out again soon. (And remember, even women who menstruate like clockwork STILL occasionally have annovulatory cycles for one reason or another. Stress is usually blamed, although you know I would rather poke myself in the eye with some lipliner than tell another woman trying to conceive to “just relax.”) If another six months goes by and you’re not pregnant and still having really irregular periods, by all means talk to your doctor. But a lot of doctors will tell you the “six months to a year” post-birth-control time period. (Of course, you should still be getting your pap smears and regular pelvic exams during this time too, nag nag.)
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If you feel like you must do something in the meantime or you will lose your damn mind, head over to Whole Foods and pick up some prenatal vitamins and some raspberry leaf tea. Prenatals are always a good idea for anyone actively trying to conceive, plus they will correct any underlying deficiencies that could be keeping your body off-kilter. The raspberry leaf tea is just one of the many crockpot natural remedies I tried (it “supports the female system” and supposedly has been used by Native American women for centuries to correct irregular menstruation). I don’t know. I certainly didn’t drink the recommended three cups a DAY, but I did drink a cup in the morning occasionally and well…huh. I got pregnant. (I didn’t use raspberry leaf to get pregnant with my first son, Noah, by the way. That time I got a dog. So you could also try that.) (Thus ends the possibly specious logic portion of the Smackdown.)

But seriously: it’s okay. You’re describing something that has happened to a lot of women. You’re not alone or some barren freak of nature. It’s unnerving, once you decide that you really really really omfg want a baby, to discover just how random and delicate the whole egg-meet-sperm process is. (Even my OB has said, on multiple occasions, that it’s pretty amazing any of us ever manage to get born.) But it is not time to panic yet. Even if you DO end up heading down the ART route, there will be plenty of time to freak out and regroup and come up with a plan and deal with whatever obstacles are in your way. But right now, at this moment in time, there’s just no reason to be anything other than optimistic that everything will work out just fine.

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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