When Birth Control May Do More Than Just That

Other than a couple of questions here and there on social media, I haven’t really mentioned the chronic pain that I have been experiencing for the last 2.5 years.

It started in the summer of 2010, and I originally thought that I had a herniated or slipped disc in my neck/back. By the time the cooler weather came around, the pain was not as bad, so I kind of wrote it off as changes in the weather, humidity, and in my body, as I approached 40.

The problem is, the pain never fully went away. It retreated occasionally, but never completely, and never for long.

During this time, there were also increases in other issues, such as skin, scalp and hair issues (eg: eczema, hair thinning) and slight weight gain. All of these have ‘normal’ reasons, such as approaching and passing 40, allergies, diet…

So:

I’ve spent many days and nights wearing hand and wrist braces, thinking it was just really bad carpal tunnel.

I’ve changed to a standing desk, thinking it might just be really bad tension in my muscles caused by how I sit at the computer.

I’ve upped my exercise, thinking it might be rheumatoid arthritis and that it was best to keep moving.

I’ve tried OTC pain relievers, thinking if I could just get some relief, my body might heal itself.

I’ve added various vitamins to my diet, thinking it might be perimenopause.

I’ve gone shampoo-free, hoping to alleviate scalp issues.

I’ve changed my diet, trying my best to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, thinking it might be a food allergy, issues with wheat/gluten…

Until two months ago, I didn’t have health insurance, so I’ve prayed daily for healing and (/or, at the very least) comfort. I’ve laid awake many nights worried about what was wrong. It’s become a part of my daily life.

Last year, at Randy’s prompting, I started keeping a journal – tracking the pain: the dates, levels, locations. We knew that when we saw a doctor, in order to have a good grasp on things, and help along a diagnosis, we needed to have a sense of when things were happening.

Eventually a pattern emerged.

Almost three years ago, I got a Mirena IUD. It basically stopped my periods, but in my journaling, I realized that the pain always increased around my usual cycle.

It didn’t make sense to me, at first, that they might be related, but I searched the internet for correlations, trying to figure out if the IUD created symptoms, or exacerbated symptoms that were created by other issues.

In other words: was I already struggling with health issues? Or was it possible that the IUD was creating them?

My searches didn’t turn up much. I still felt at a loss to explain what would have brought on such a sudden, chronic pain.

In the last few months, I’ve realized that my search terms were off. I changed my search from searching the internet for “IUD chronic pain”, (which brought up a bajillion posts on chronic pelvic pain) and changed my search to “IUD autoimmune issues”.

And I found that there are many women who have been dealing with the same types of pains and issues. Some of them found great relief upon the removal of the IUD, many, after having had testing (and even possible diagnoses) for RA, MS, and many other autoimmune diseases.

After a few months of a mild decrease in severity, my pain has been back in full-force for the last few weeks, and the last few days, it has been worse than I can remember in awhile.

I’m making an appointment with my doctor, and I’m planning on having my IUD removed. It may turn out not be the root cause of my pain, but it is the simplest test I can do at this time.

Honestly, I’m hoping that it really IS just the IUD.

Be Smarter about Your Medications: iGuard.org

medicine

Most of us take some sort of medication. Whether it is over the counter (OTC) or prescription or a combination of both, it is important to understand the risks associated with each, as well as the potential for interference to occur from other meds we may be taking along with them.

As consumers, we are responsible for trying to be as informed as possible. If you were to purchase a new car, you would go to the dealership having done some research already. Our health should be no different. Especially when it comes to putting chemicals into our bodies.

Pharmasicts and doctors are willing to speak with us on these topics, but it helps to have other resources available. That’s why iGuard.org should be bookmarked by anyone who wants to stay informed on medications.

iGuard.org is a healthcare service that helps monitor the safety of your medications (including prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, nutritional supplements and herbal extracts).

iGuard.org helps you stay safer by:

  1. Routinely checking the safety of your medications, screening for drug-drug and drug-disease interactions.
  2. Alerting you and your doctor (optional) as important safety information arises for your medications.
  3. Providing an easily accessible summary of your medications and conditions that you can share with your healthcare team.
  4. Helping you learn and share treatment satisfaction and side effect information within our patient community.

Additionally, you will see any warnings associated with the medication, along with some basic facts and figures:

iguard black box screenshot

The profile is quick and simple to fill out. Just be sure to have all of your medication names gathered so that you can have a complete profile.

iguard profile screenshot

The risk ratings are used to rate side effects of any medications, from low to high risk. Beside each medication you will see one of these ratings:

iguard risk screenshot

If you are uncertain about the medication and what it is used to treat, there are charts with each medication profile that tracks the number of people taking the medication and the reasons they are taking it:

iguard zoloft screenshot

If any of the medications your are taking interfere with each other, you will be alerted. Email alerts are sent to you to help you keep track of the medications and any issues that are found with any of them. Additionally, if a medicine is recalled, you will be notified.

Reactions to medications, though rare, can happen. You want to be sure to take every precaution possible and stay informed. While iGuard doesn’t replace your doctor’s advice, it is another part of being well-informed.

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