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What Happened When I Missed My Period For 6 Months In A Row (On Purpose)

Self

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Typically, missed periods are a serious cause of alarm for women who aren't hoping to get pregnant, but there are also plenty of women who are more than happy to try skipping their period on purpose — with the help of their OB/GYN and birth control pills. But how does purposely messing with your menstrual cycle affect women's health and wellness, especially if she's prone to depress? Well, I found it.

I was fourteen the first time a doctor recommended that I go on birth control pills. This suggestion wasn't made because I was sexually active. God no, that was still years and years away. The doctor in question was actually my dermatologist, who thought "the pill" might help sort out the hormonal war zone that was my face.

My mom and I talked about it on the way home, and by talked about it, I mean that she promptly stated, "If we do this, don't think it gives you permission to go running around."

(To this day I'm not sure why my mom would have thought 14-year-old me was chomping at the bit to do so, but regardless, that very much was not the case.)

Ultimately, my parents decided I wouldn't go on birth control, as apparently neither of them believed I could be trusted to remember to take a pill at the same time everyday, which is totally fair. The fact that I remember my own name on a daily basis is a small miracle.

So I didn't start taking birth control pills until I was in my late 20s, and when I did, it changed everything.

You see, I have Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), which is kind of like PMS, but with even more head-spinning, agonizing pain, as well as an impulsive need to say say things in anger which you can never take back.

 

RELATED: What Is PMDD? Symptoms, Signs & Treatment Of The Devastating Yet Frequently Undiagnosed Disorder

 

In order to ease the symptoms, my OB/GYN put me on birth control pills in the hopes of regulating my periods and lessening the pain and depression they brought on, and I'll be darned if it didn't work.

I soon became the living embodiment of every sanitary napkin commercial ever released.

I ran through fields. I kissed handsome men. I danced like no one was watching. Everything was perfect! Each month like clockwork I had a regular, dulled-down version of my usual period, and life was grand.

So, of course, I decided to go ahead and tempt fate by changing the way I took my birth control.

See, with most birth control pills, you get three weeks of active pills and one week of inactive pills. It's during that last week that you have your "period."

Except that what you're having isn't the same as an actual period, but rather withdrawal bleeding from your three weeks of active pills. The only reason inactive pills were originally designed was in order to appease the Catholic Church.

As explained in detail in Vice:

"[One] of the scientists who helped develop the birth control pill, John Rock, was a devout Catholic. He was convinced, however naively, that the church would accept the pill as a form of 'natural' contraception if it were presented in the right light. (Because the pill contains progestin — a hormone naturally released after ovulation, during the 'safe period' — Rock considered it a sort of scientific extension of the rhythm method.) But in order for it to be palatable to the church, he knew that it had to seem natural. And if women took the pill consistently, with no withdrawal periods, they'd potentially go months without any menstrual bleeding — which would freak pretty much everyone out."

This means that, in theory, if you skip the inactive week and go straight to your next packet, you'll never have your period.

Of course, if you do any reading about this online, you'll find a ton of mixed opinions. Some say it's perfectly fine for your body to skip periods. Other sites say you absolutely NEED to have a period each and every month.

So I did what any sane person would do and asked my OB/GYN. Her response was that it's perfectly safe, and that it's also not for everyone, so the only way I could know if it would work for me would be by trying it out for myself. So try it out I did.

Guys, that was six months ago.

 

RELATED: I Invited My Boyfriend To My Period To Save Our Relationship From My PMDD (Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder)

 

For the past six glorious months, I have been without cramping, bloating, fatigue, or bleeding. I haven't bought a single tampon. I've been feeling great and living my life blood-free! My period underwear (and sheets, and okay, pants) stayed in their drawer, gloriously unneeded.

Then, a week ago it happened.

I woke up to the sound of my cats meowing, as I usually do, but instead of chatting back to them sweetly and feeding them right away, I bolted up in bed yelling, "EFF OFF, YOU RATS," only I didn't say "eff."

My poor cats were understandably terrified, and I was inexplicably enraged.

My mood continued to decline when I left the house only to realize I'd forgotten both my keys and my shoes.

"Maybe I should walk in front of this bus," I thought to myself once I actually made it out the door. Thankfully, my next thought was, "Huh. That's not healthy or normal. Something's up."

By the time I made it to my work place, I'd broken out into a cold sweat. I was shuddering and felt like I needed to vomit. I couldn't figure out what was happening, so naturally, I assumed that I must be dying.

But then, I felt it. The twinge. The beginnings. Right there in my uterus: PMDD.

I might have kept the devil at bay for years now thanks to my antidepressants and birth control pills, but now it was back and it was badder than ever.

I called my OB/GYN and told her what was going on.

"Well," she said, "some bodies just know what they need."

Which frankly, is some hippy trash to hear from a doctor, but I agreed to take her at her word and go back to taking my birth control the right way, fake period and all.

That was a week ago. One full week. My period hasn't even arrived yet, but the PMS is some of the most brutal I've ever experienced. I want to curl up in a little ball and sleep until my period actually arrives. If I haven't borked things up downstairs too completely, it should arrive at some point today, and that feels exceptionally likely.

Science may not have reached any definitive conclusion that there's any harm in a woman stopping her period with birth control, but this woman found some about how doing so affects her body, and she won't be going down that road again.

If it's a choice between six months without my periods and what's happening to me now versus my regular old birth control periods, the choice is an obvious one. I'll be back on those inactive pills to stay.

Besides, I missed having an excuse to cry for no reason and mainline Ben and Jerry's once a month. You know you would, too.

 

RELATED: What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Taking Birth Control

 

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the love and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.

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