I've always been scared of being infertile. Especially when I learned that is is possible to have your monthly bleed without ovulating.
This fear only increased when I heard that most infertile women do get their menstruation (monthly bleed). In this article I'm looking more into how hormonal birth control contributes to this, if it's temporary and what can be done do 'fix' your cycle, ovulation and fertility.
Before we dive into that I want to start off by saying that within this article I am no way diminishing the services hormonal contraceptives provide for women's lives and independence. This post is shared out of the believe that every woman has the right to learn more about what we put into our bodies on a daily basis. In this particular case, what were to happen if we stopped using hormonal contraceptives.
How the pill works:
The hormones in the pill stop ovulation. No ovulation means there’s no egg hanging around for sperm to fertilize, so pregnancy cannot happen.
The pill’s hormones also thicken the mucus in the cervix. This thicker cervical mucus blocks sperm so they can’t swim to an egg.
Quitting the pill:
As you now know hormonal birth control suppresses communication hormonally between the ovaries, the uterus and the brain.
For some women that come off of the pill, this communication resumes in a cyclic, hormonal, appropriate fashion and the woman goes back to having regular cycles shortly after quitting.
However, some people who menstruate may experience this lack of an ovulation for multiple years after coming off the pill. Meaning that the pill made it (temporarily) impossible to conceive.
This is because the pill doesn't contain progesterone but progesterin. A hormone that isn't naturally present in your body. Meaning that it causes your own hormones to go out of balance making it hard for your body to restore it normal cycle.
The absence of an ovulation means that there is no egg that can be fertilized meaning that you are infertile. Temporarily at least.
Let's say that you were fertile before getting on hormonal birth control however, your ovulation is now suppressed. In that case there is no need to worry. There are ways to restore your hormonal balance naturally.
Monthly bleed without ovulation:
You might wonder how it is even possible to bleed without ovulation?! It's possible your teacher taught you that the presence of a monthly bleed meaning you can get pregnant right?
unfortunately that isn't always the case. You may experience something that called an anovulatory cycle.
Let's walk through a healthy cycle first. Starting the day your period ends. Your estrogen is rising and your progesterone is still quite low. Estrogen stimulates your ovulation. After you have ovulated your progesterone rises. fast forward to a day or two before your period, your progesterone drops and your uterine lining starts shedding (you start bleeding).
An anovulatory cycle:
When you have an anovulatory cycle an insufficient level of progesterone can lead to heavy bleeding. A woman may mistake this bleeding for a real period.
This kind of bleeding may also be caused by a buildup in the lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium which can no longer sustain itself. It can be caused by a drop in estrogen as well.
Still no need to worry
It’s not uncommon for a woman in her prime conception years to experience an anovulatory cycle occasionally. In fact, you may have experienced one and not even noticed. That’s because when a woman experiences anovulation, she may still seem to menstruate normally.
Getting to the root cause of your irregular/ painful/ heavy/ light/ long/ short cycle:
Recommended read: '' The Period Repair Manual" from our revolutionary professional Dr Lara Briden.
Want to learn more about your cycle and how to find out if ovulation? Stay tuned for the next article in the 'what my GP didn't tell me about'.