Starting Natural Cycles

by - 08:00

If there's one thing that I feel is not discussed frequently enough, it's the struggle that girls face when it comes to the question of contraception. Currently, there are very few options to prevent a pregnancy that put equal responsibility on men and women so, inevitably, us gals end up taking on most of that particular role. The majority of contraceptive options include the use of hormones which, while effective, can have some pretty unwelcome side effects including severe mood swings, anxiety, paranoia, weight gain, headaches, nausea, ...oh: and a decreased sex drive to boot. YAY.

I've been on differing variations of the pill for five years solidly: since I was 19. I've experienced big changes, both physically and mentally, since taking it and now - at the grand old age of 24 - I'm starting to wonder how much of the way I am has been influenced by that. It's kind of scary to think about and I know for a fact that I wouldn't have experienced some of the mental health issues that I've had if I hadn't have taken one of the pills that I tried a couple of years ago called Cerazette. I seriously thought I was going round the bend. 

This year, I decided it was time for a change: to get back in touch with my body, my moods and just myself in general so I decided at the beginning of this year to come off of the pill and start using a more natural method of contraception through the use of the app Natural Cycles. I'm sure we've all seen adverts for it floating around on Instagram and all thought that surely it's too good to be true: 'All you have to do is take your temperature and it will tell you if you're fertile? Surely it can't be that simple.'

And it's not, really, but it's not super complicated either. The app works to learn your menstrual cycle through information such as your daily temperature, your period length and LH (ovulation) tests. There are a few key bits of info to get right - all can be found on their website - but it's actually a very convenient and natural way of learning about your fertility.

I've been using the app for just over a week and have found it easy and straightforward to use with a lot of FAQ-type information included in the app to help you when you're first starting out. The main information that Natural Cycles uses is your daily, morning temperature and it's important to take it at the right time and under the right circumstances. This has been the only thing I've found a little tricky as your temperature is only valid after you've slept at least four hours but within a 2 hour window either side of the time you usually wake up. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, but not always, so was worried about whether my temperature would be valid. However there is plenty of information available to help you manage the app with your sleep pattern and I guess once it knows your cycle it's not so important for the app to know your temperature every single day.

As I've come off the pill quite recently, I have a lot of red days predicted (and confirmed) for this month, and the app predicts that it will take at least 9 months for it to correctly know my cycle with the amount of 'red' (use protection) days decreasing as the months go by. Honestly - I am more than ok with this! I'd rather be more careful while my body is readjusting to its normal state and give the app as much info as possible to help it know my cycle.

I feel like the only side effect of stopping the pill (which I guess is temporary) is that I've been more prone to headaches. I usually get a migraine on the day before my period starts and I've been experiencing the same type of headache on and off for the last few days. I'm assuming it's to do with how the hormones in my body have been adjusting and I've started taking some hormone-regulating supplements to hopefully help my body get back to normal.

Other than that - I'm loving being pill-free! After such a long time of being on hormonal contraception I'm looking forward to getting back in touch with my body and emotions and I already feel a lot 'lighter' in my general mood.

I'm planning to do a few updates as I continue to use Natural Cycles to track my experience with it as a previous pill user as well as how my body/mental health changes - hopefully for the better!

Stay inspired,

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