The Nutcracker

A few posts back I wrote about my own particular battle with menstrual problems. At that time, after other unsuccessful treatments, I had decided to try the Mirena Coil. Having had a bad reaction to the Pill many years ago – one that made me feel as if I had permanent and raging PMT – I had grown a little fearful of the power and impact of synthetic hormones. With the Mirena, I had been reassured that very little of its progestogen (this is the synthetic form of progesterone) passes into the blood stream, staying localised in the cervix and therefore drastically reducing any potential negative reactions. I had come to view the decision to have the Mirena fitted as a potential life-saver having felt increasingly worn down by dealing with exhausting symptoms each month.


The morning of my Mirena insertion I had a gut feeling all would not be well. To my frustration and annoyance, I am one of those women whose internal anatomy is not compatible – in others words the Mirena wouldn’t fit! I apparently have a rather ‘petite’ cervix, so much so, that at one point the doctor asked if she could show the nurse. As I lay, spread-eagled upon the bed with two people, their heads craned to one side, straining to see into my nether regions, I could suddenly see the funny side. I wondered if anyone in the waiting room might have liked a look at my freakishly tiny cervix too – I wished I could have seen it for myself! On the plus side, apparently I have vaginal and pelvic floor muscles that can crack nuts! Can’t have everything!


I came away from the surgery clutching a prescription for the synthetic progestogen pills – Utovlan. These are used for everything from breast cancer to endometriosis. The plan was to take a very low dose a couple of days prior to menstruation and throughout my period to see if that made a difference to my flow and the pain. I did this and was amazed to find that the extreme physical heaviness and tiredness I felt in the days running up to my period were amazingly replaced by an almost manic euphoria (Laurie – after reading the Utovlan leaflet –  later informed me that the euphoria was actually a side-effect!). I felt worryingly well and energetic. As time passed and it became apparent that the pills were delaying my period, I started to feel caught in an odd place of suspension, my body on some level wanting to bleed but unable. Knowing that as soon as I stopped taking the pills I would bleed, I realised that merely delaying my period couldn’t happen indefinitely. I made the decision to stop taking the pills to allow my cycle to continue. From here things started to get pretty awful. Suddenly I felt like I was on the verge of the worst of panic attacks; I couldn’t stop crying, I felt so ill, my only thought that I wanted to be anywhere but in my own body and head. I felt horribly restless and fidgety, I literally didn’t know what to do with myself to feel better. Over hours this eventually eased – thankfully – and I began bleeding almost a week late and with absolutely no change to flow or pain…and so, back to square one.


I feel stumped. There are progestogen injections and implants but after my recent experience I feel nervous about trying them. Both are slow release and so once in the body are there for months, making any bad reaction something that must be lived with until the hormone is worked out of one’s system. The frustrating thing is that all of these treatments seem to be such blunt instruments for dealing with menstrual problems. Most of them are forms of contraception that just happen to help some women’s menstrual issues – happy accidents for some but not necessarily appropriate for all. The actual medical reasons why women suffer seem frustratingly missing from the treatment process; it feels horribly hit and miss. One doctor admitted that at present they really don’t know why some women have such difficult symptoms. I wish there was a greater focus on the discovery of the causes, perhaps then more appropriate treatments might be developed for individuals that do not necessarily want to go down the synthetic hormone contraceptive route. Sadly, I can’t see this happening any time soon.


I am not sure where to go now and am trying not to feel despondent. Do I continue to risk the experiments with what is left on offer and hope that I don’t end up feeling worse? Or do I embrace my situation, accepting that this is my lot and work with changing my attitude to it? The thing is, I have felt so physically under the weather, increasingly so, as if each period drains a little more of my energy away; like a creeping slick it takes over more and more of my time and life and energy – I don’t want to feel so at odds with my body. I have the feeling there are many other women out there who share my frustration and long for a more positive solution; no more blunt instruments or ‘fingers crossed’ experiments but workable treatments that bring genuine relief and healing.


1 Comment

  1. trish said,

    May 4, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    i am so behind with my reading of your blog, all of Aprils entries are so thoughtful and beautiful, i have missed reading you. 🙂 x

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