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The first cycle I charted was definitely the most intense. If you want to read more about why I am sharing this and some of the things I went through during this first cycle, read my most recent post.
Each post in this series will follow a similar format. To start, I’ll give some quick stats about this cycle. Something to note is that many people in the natural family planning world emphasize the fact that if you do not ovulate, you have not completed a cycle. Your bleed is not a period and the clock does not start over. This is true. However, with such long anovulatory cycles at times, I believe it is clearer to share a cycle as the time between bleeds, as opposed to one cycle per ovulation. For example, I have charts for 18 cycles, meaning 18 bleeds, whether a true period or a breakthrough bleed. However I only ovulated 13 times in that time period.
Cycle 1 Stats:
- 184 days
- No ovulation
- Began with a withdrawal bleed
Cycle 1 Analysis
I started charting this cycle the day my withdrawal bleed started after taking my last birth control pill – April 22, 2013. At this point in time I was really concerned about my health. I was running, walking, doing yoga, or some other type of activity every day. I was nearing the end of the school year, so I was stressed, but doing okay. By going off the pill, I noticed a lot of symptoms disappear that were troublesome for so many years, in particular my night anxiety.
I spent this cycle getting acquainted with charting. I quickly got into the routine of taking my temperature every morning and I learned about the wonderful world of cervical mucus. In June, my then-fiance and I took a Creighton class, which helped a lot with learning how to read my mucus, which was fairly continuous.
On May 23, I began my first elimination diet in order to heal my eczema. It worked wonders in that regard and to this day I am benefiting from that diet. However, I also dropped a lot of weight. By a month into the diet, I weighed 96 pounds. I thought I looked great, but everyone around me was noticing and later told me they were worried. Well, once I started adding foods back in it didn’t take long for my weight to go back up to a more healthy 105-110 pounds.
While it is very likely that my weight loss stalled my cycles from returning, I do think this diet helped my hormones a little. When a woman is having fertility problems and she has been on the pill before, the first assumption is estrogen dominance. In the many times my hormones were tested over the years, my levels never suggested this problem. I believe this is because my elimination diet helped clear out all the extra estrogen my body had after being on the pill for 3 years.
In August my period still hadn’t returned and my charting showed no signs that it was on track to do so. I started getting nervous and looking into what I could do to help my hormones remember their job. I started taking Fem Rebalance, a combination of herbs designed to support hormones. After returning to school for my senior year, I made an effort to exercise (my summer job had been very labor intensive) and stick to a healthy diet. You’ll notice in my charts that I developed some shorthand, since I was also using Creighton charts at the time.
Finally, in October, my NFP instructor referred me to a NaPro doctor to figure out why I hadn’t gotten my period yet. My instructor had never heard of someone taking so long to start cycling again simply from the pill. From the shot or the implant, maybe. But not from the lowest dose pill available. But before I had a chance to see the doctor, I started bleeding. Finally. I hadn’t ovulated, but I was bleeding. That was the first step. And now that my body had found the reset button, maybe things would get better.
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