Me and synthetic hormones don’t mix

The clock has already reset. I didn’t want to blog about this at first because it’s embarrassing, but for my own historical record, I really NEED to record this.

My husband and I were not careful enough during intimacy on our anniversary, and as a result, I was afraid of an unwanted pregnancy.

I know, it may seem as strange when the media feeds everyone’s brains with the lie that endometriosis always results in infertility. Furthermore, I’ve not seen anyone in the endometriosis forums bravely declaring that they don’t want children. No, instead the forums and media are filled with stories of women with endo who are also having a hard time trying to conceive, and are distraught over it.
Their situation is real and I feel bad for them. I have stage III endometriosis but I am unfortunately still quite fertile, yet I do not want children. If there were only a way to switch that with someone who wanted kids…

Because of my anxiety that I could become pregnant, I sought out emergency contraceptive (in the U.S. it is known as Plan B, and it is over the counter at the pharmacy to women 18 and older).
I have taken Plan B before, many years ago. I knew that it would make me depressed, and I have established that my body cannot tolerate synthetic hormones. But due to our carelessness, I needed peace of mind, and it was only a one-dose hormonal treatment, so I took the Plan B.

Wed. July 15 – anniversary – unprotected sex.
Thur. July 16 – first dose Plan B at 1:58pm. Within 30 minutes, I developed a gurgly stomach, which turned into stomach cramps and intermittent uterine pain for the rest of the day. I also experienced mild nausea. Heavy fatigue took over by 5pm – I could barely keep my eyes open. Later, I had a poor appetite – I did not want dinner. I forced myself to eat a banana before bed. I took a shower, forced myself to do some mild housework, and went to bed by 9:30pm.
Fri. July 17, 2009 – took last dose at 1:58am. I had crazy dreams all night involving tornadoes, floods, murderous gypsy types and a world of magick and sorcery.
Friday – Sunday was hugely emotional, depressive, moody, and angry for me. I spent much of the time not wanting to interact with my husband or anyone, because I was in such a bad head space to even try saying anything polite. I mean, even my husband was concerned about me, and at times got his feelings hurt, and would react by saying, “hormones.” I seriously agree – I also attribute the moods and anger to the Levonorgestrel.
Tue. July 21 – I had an unexpected sugar crash around noon. I only ever get hypoglycemia right before menses begins, because my hormones are out of whack. Ever since adhering to a gluten and yeast free diet since 2006, I don’t get the hypoglycemic attacks with regularity – ONLY within a few days of menses. So having a sudden sugar crash on July 21 concerned me.
Wed. July 22 – 12:20pm I had another hypoglycemic attack, AND began spotting. It was dark red “dirty blood” and looked a bit coffee ground-like sometimes. There were tiny clots. Shortly after going to the bathroom, the cramps started.

I checked for info:

“Some women may experience spotting a few days after taking Plan B™”.

“The effects of Plan B™ on carbohydrate metabolism are unknown. Some users of progestin-only oral contraceptives (POPs) may experience slight deterioration in glucose tolerance, with increases in plasma insulin…”

I took 600mg Ibuprofen, called my GYN and ordered a refill for Tylenol 3 (I don’t normally let myself run completely out but accidentally did so this time), and took off to the grocery store to get some ready-made foods in case I would be bedridden again.

The spotting lasted all day, and so did the cramps. On the pain scale, I’d rate the cramps as a 4 on the Mankoski Pain Scale. Over the course of the day, I also developed low back pain, but I mostly attributed that to having moved stuff around all day (and yes, I did wear a protection belt for lifting).

Thur. July 23 – I awoke around 5:39am from the pain. I went to the bathroom and found to my dismay that I’m full on bleeding – I filled the bowl with blood. The pain in my lower back became very strong, and I started to get a bit nauseous. The pain level was at 7.5. I took my temperature but it was ‘normal’ (normal for me being around 97.5°F, but I don’t have thyroid issues, so say all the blood tests I’ve gotten for the past ten years… riiiiiight).
I called the makers of Plan B and told them about my experience. They said it was all normal. They said some women spot and others get what looks like a full on period. She even said the level of low back pain and the cramping were normal. Still, she took a basic medical history from me to put it on file so they can have a log of adverse reactions up to date.
By 7pm I was severely depressed with suicidal ideation. I called the Plan B hotline again. They have no studies and no records of anyone ever experiencing depression as a side effect to Levonorgestrel.
Fri. July 24 – I bled through my pad, underwear and bedclothes, and went through a pad an hour since I woke up. The cramps were still persistent, ranging from 4-7 on the scale, and mostly centered in the lower back and vagina, or lowest part of the uterus if anything.
I endured a pelvic exam w/ speculum, which made the cramps worse. I did a pee test. Negative as expected for pregnancy. I was told that I am obviously having a reaction to the hormone from the Plan B, and there’s nothing to do at this point but to ride it out, taking Ibuprofen 3x/day, as it is supposed to help ease up the blood flow. The doc also is supposed to send in a script for some Tylenol 3 – not my usual supply – just a sampling as it were, to get me through this. I am referred back to my GYN, who has not returned any of my phone calls this week.
Had another hypoglycemic attack – at 12:43pm. The third in as many days, around the same time of day.
My GYN office finally called back to tell me that my doctor has sent in my Tylenol 3 prescription, which should be ready today. The office seemed indifferent to my Plan B story, but did say the pain with the bleeding seemed unusual.

I spent all last night into today digging through every diary entry I’ve ever made, be it handwritten or typed to myself in an email or filed somehow or another on my computer, because I know I detailed Plan B side effects before. I just can’t remember anything past a general sense of ‘I got depressed on it’.
With all my searching, I found three instances in the past ten years where I took Plan B, prior to the current run:

July 2001
S M Tu W Th F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31

July 11 – got my normal period
July 13 – drove to Tahoe w/ my hubby (who was then my bf)
July 14 and/or 15, 2001: unprotected sex
July 16 – Period ended but I took Plan B anyway. Depressed from having spent money I didn’t really have that weekend, from getting sunburnt, from being careless w/ sex.
July 17 – continued deepening depression.
July 19 – feeling happier emotionally
July 20 – started spotting, then bleeding
July 21 – very heavy bleeding
July 22 – heavy bleeding
July 25 – stopped bleeding
July 26 – severely depressed and angry
Aug 15 – got my normal period late; bedridden from the pain.

December 2001
S M Tu W Th F S
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31

Sun. Dec. 9 – Took Plan B (forgot to take 2nd pill). But one pill was enough to depress my central nervous system and I noticed the depression within a day.
Mon. Dec. 10 – took Flexeril to ease the back pain – I’d thrown out my back the week prior.
Mon. Dec. 17 – severely depressed. 3 hour mental breakdown. Convinced I was still riding the depression from the Plan B. My back was better by the 17th, however.

Did not mention bleeding as side effect in my long journal entry on Dec. 17, 2001. However, I had a phone conversation with my ma, who was still going through menopause at the time. I had asked if she could see a doctor to ease the menopause side effects. She said she can’t take hormone pills – they mess with her – make her angry, very bitchy and depressed. She said her older sister, my Aunt J, gets the same way. I told my mom that was VERY good family info to have on record.
It’s already been noted by my mom that several of her sisters had painful periods like I do. Adding sensitivity to hormone pills, and depressions locks it down to a known family history.

Well, you know how people are stupid and history repeats itself…

October 2002
S M Tu W Th F S
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31

Tues, Sept. 17 Got my period, which was quite painful
Monday Sept. 23 Had a severe emotional breakdown
Tues, Sept. 24 Sister called and told me she’s pregnant
Sun, Sept. 29 Hubby (then bf) and I fooled around
Tues, Oct 1 Took Plan B, paranoid from fooling around
Fri, Oct 4 My sister arrived from Michigan to visit
Thurs, Oct 10 I became sick; strep
Sun, Oct 13 Sister departed for Mich, I called in sick
Mon, Oct 14 off work sick, went to doctor
Tues, Oct 15 off work sick, got my regular period
Wed, Oct 16 returned to work, still very depressed

Did not mention bleeding as side effect in my journal entry on Oct. 17, 2002. Still trying to find any emails or journal entries from that time frame to see if I talked about bleeding at all.

I’ll be adding the full text of those diary entries at some point, just so I have the history on this site.

I’d like to note for the record that Plan B has the same ingredient that is found in the Mirena IUD, which my gynecologists have been begging me to try since 2006.
Since I cannot even handle low doses of drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol synthetic hormones (as found in birth control pills), and now I know that Levonorgestrel also sets off the depression and rage, there is no way in hell I want a continuous dose of it through the Mirena IUD. I do not want a repeat of 2007, when I became suicidal on Yasmin, thanks.

My husband said he is going to look into getting a vasectomy.

In the meantime, I have to ride the rest of this nightmare out, and then in the next two to three weeks, endure more pain and suffering when my actual period reappears.
I hope that I can once and for all remember two things: be super careful if I don’t want to worry about pregnancy, and never, ever, EVER take Plan B or any synthetic hormone ever again. My husband said he is happy to remind me to never go near hormones again after seeing me get severely depressed from them twice, now.

One Response to “Me and synthetic hormones don’t mix”

  1. I Will Not Suffer In Silence » Blog Archive » Bedridden again

    […] emotional effects of the Levonorgestrel lasted through the end of July before I started evening out […]